Fort Myers Beach is about to get a whole new look and feel, as construction crews broke ground on the Margaritaville Resort Friday.
For a while, the resort was blocked by lawsuits. Then, the pandemic delayed construction. Now, fencing is up around the area, and they’re finally ready to start building.
The resort will take up over 6 acres and will have around 254 hotel rooms once complete, as well as a beach club and restaurants.
It’s a diamond in the … sand here for them to be coming here,” Scott Rediger said.
Rediger has been a fan of Jimmy Buffett since the beginning. He wears his fandom proudly in his clothing and his beach setup.
While some are concerned about the traffic, Rediger thinks that’s a good thing.
“You’re bringing in the crowds means money,” Rediger said.
That’s the hope for many businesses on the beach, especially for Kathy Doherty, a hostess at Sunset Beach Tropical Grille.
“They’re not just going to stay at their resort,” Doherty said. “They’re going to venture out, and they’re going to come to all the other shops and restaurants around the area.
As with any big change, this one has met with resistance and excitement in equal measure. Some neighbors don’t like to see the small town of Fort Myers Beach grow too big, and were upset when the iconic Mermaid Lounge got shut down.
The project will be adding a lot of new things while also paying homage to the area’s culture. The resort will be turning the Cigar Hut into a pool club facility
“That’s been around on this island since about 1933,” said John Gucciardo, a spokesman for TPI Hospitality. “We tried to do everything we could to incorporate that into the finished product, and we were able to.”
Many people told WINK News of their excitement for the new resort.
“I’m actually very excited; I think it’s going to do good,” said Isabel Garcia, who lives and works on Fort Myers Beach. “I’m really hoping to see how Fort Myers Beach has been growing because it’s been growing, and yeah, I’m so excited about it.”
“It’s going to bring a lot of tourism to the area and restaurants and things to do and shop, so that’s good,” said Elaine Robarge, from Fort Myers.
The Fort Myers Beach Chamber of Commerce and other businesses say they think more people will come for the resort alone, but will then spend money outside of Margaritaville and come back for the beach.
“I think change is good for all of us,” said Jacki Liszak, executive director of the Fort Myers Beach Chamber of Commerce. “I think it’s going to bring increased opportunities for our frontline workers and our hospitality workers. It’s going to bring opportunities for new people to come to Southwest Florida, who would, like I mentioned, may never have thought to come see us. And they’re going to come over our Sky Bridge, and they’re going to fall in love with us.”
Rediger said Margaritaville’s arrival was an added bonus for him and his wife to move to Southwest Florida from Indiana. He says he will be in the region full-time in two years when the resort opens in 2023.
There was only one thing that would have made the groundbreaking of the resort better for Rediger and likely many others.
“Wish Jimmy Buffett would fly his seaplane in here and land here and play a few songs,” Rediger said.