Some hold out hope historic Naples Beach Hotel can be somewhat preserved

Reporter: Taylor Smith Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Published: Updated:
The Naples Beach Hotel & Gold Club in December 2020. Credit: WINK News.

A beloved beach hotel in Southwest Florida is getting revamped into luxury condos and a resort.

The Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club has been a fixture in the Naples community since the 1940s when the golf course and original hotel and beach club were developed into what people see present day.

The 75-year-old beachfront hotel has a lot of history for people in that community, and people told us they are going to be sad to see the local spot go — a place where they have shared a lot of memories.

People we spoke do think it’s an advantage for Naples to get a Four Seasons hotel, but they hope the golf course does not go anywhere.

“It’s a controversial topic,” Marline Yiankes said.

“We are very supportive of the Watkins family needs to move on,” Diane Ladley said.

The Athens Group says a Four Seasons Hotels and Resort will give the area Naples a facelift, and Discovery Land Company will sell the high-end residential condos.

“Four Seasons doesn’t put their name on just any location,” Deno Yiankes said.

Some locals wish those upset about certain aspects of the redevelopment would also consider the future benefits yet to come.

“I see the glass more half full, and I’m super excited about it,” Marline said.

“When you look at what we are all going to be able to enjoy as Florida residents, the small pain over the next couple of years is well worth the gain,” Deno said.

Still, signs that say “Stop the Athens amusement park” dot some people’s yards.

“The brochure showed a sports court, tennis, pickleball right across from our homes, and we were against that,” Ladley said. “It’s not what we thought they would be doing.”

Ladley explained, while she is not against a Four Seasons, she wants the golf course to stay 18 holes instead of a possible 10.

“I’m a golfer,” Ladley said. “I would never play a 10-hole course.”

The Athens Group said it has not submitted any finalized plans to make the golf course a 10-hole course yet. If the development group does submit the idea, it would keep it an outdoor area with different golf and outside activities.

Ladley hopes the game, the views and the history of the course can stay.

“We have to do something because what happens if you don’t do something?” Ladley said. “Then, they think you’re OK with it, and we are not OK with it.”

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