Several years ago, I made my first visit to the Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club. Like so many others over the past seven decades, I was enchanted by the resort’s unparalleled location, casual charm, and the warm hospitality offered by everyone with whom I came in contact.
It was clearly evident that the Naples Beach Hotel is a unique, special place.
That first visit turned into a countless number of returns, as I worked with my team at The Athens Group to learn everything we could about the resort, the City of Naples, and the Watkins family. We wanted to be certain, as we pursued the opportunity to acquire the property, that we had a sincere appreciation for its history so we could carry on the legacy in the best way imaginable to meet, and exceed, the demands of the marketplace.
These intervening years have been both exciting and hectic. A diverse set of decisions — spanning everything from preservation of open space, architecture, construction routes, and floor plans to landscaping, public spaces, and amenities — have consumed our time each day as we strive to exceed the expectations of those who have placed their trust in The Athens Group.
When the new year rang in 2021, I was struck at how quickly the time has gone. Just a few short months from now, The Athens Group will officially take our place in the storied history of the Naples Beach Hotel property — a true honor for our team.
Our commitments remain steadfastly in place:
- The Athens Group will continue the tradition of hospitality on the property by creating a luxury resort befitting its location in the heart of Naples;
- We will protect 104 of the 125 acres on the site as recreation and open space in perpetuity;
- The open space will include a minimum of 70 acres of permeable surface, to ensure the residents of Naples continue to receive a discount on flood insurance premiums;
- Everything in our plan is entirely consistent with the entitlements granted by the City of Naples, including the new hotel and condominium residences, the Market Square and Clubhouse areas, and the on-site amenities, including golf and tennis;
- HB’s on the Gulf and the Sunset Beach Bar – though closed throughout construction – will be refurbished and re-opened to the community;
- Market Square and its shops and restaurants will be available to the community;
- All parking will be provided on-site. Garages will be located under the hotel, Market Square, and each of the residential buildings;
- The valet parking program will be enhanced. Because ample parking is planned on both sides of Gulf Shore Boulevard, the need for valets to cross the road will be virtually eliminated;
- Construction traffic will be routed through the golf course rather than utilizing neighborhood streets. Also, other than the construction haul road, the golf course will remain green until the course renovation begins;
- Our Construction Management Plan has been created with care by our local team and contractor to minimize noise, dust and vibration impacts on the project’s nearest neighbors;
- The redevelopment plan includes enhanced stormwater storage and improved water quality upon discharge to ensure we are responsible stewards of the environment; and,
- Following the completion of construction for the project’s first phase, we will restore Gulf Shore Boulevard North with bike lanes and sidewalks, add a safe pedestrian crossing, and create the lush Gulf Shore Garden for all to enjoy.
I also want to share that after listening to so many friends, neighbors and stakeholders informally call the resort the “beach club,” we will adopt that name for the new resort. The Naples Beach Club is expected to open in December 2023.
We sincerely appreciate the warm reception Naples has provided to The Athens Group, and we are pleased that so many new friendships have been formed throughout the extensive public outreach and education process we’ve undertaken these past several years.
You have already made the Naples Beach Club better by sharing your opinions, desires, sentiments, and expectations.
I can honestly say that, after all these years and visits, my team and I are more excited than ever about our plan and what it will mean to the great City of Naples. We are honored to be here and look forward to welcoming you back to the Naples Beach Club in 2023. Not to worry — the time will go quickly.
Kim Richards is Founder and CEO of The Athens Group.
This article originally appeared on Naples Daily News: Guest opinion: The storied history of the ‘beach club’ continues