New numbers show open hotel rooms in parts of Lee County are low

Reporter: Olivia Jean
Published: Updated:

Lee County released new data this week on how different areas in the county are bouncing back after Ian, based on the number of hotels that have reopened since the storm.

In the entire county, 78.1% of hotels and rentals are open following Hurricane Ian, including Sanibel, Captiva and Fort Myers Beach, which have less than half of their hotels open at this time.

Here are all of the numbers from Lee County on the percentage of how many hotels and rentals are open:

  • Boca Grande: 100.0% open
  • Bonita Springs: 94.4% open
  • Cape Coral: 100.0% open
  • Captiva: 56.0% open
  • Estero: 100.0% open
  • Fort Myers: 98.7% open
  • Fort Myers Beach: 42.9% open
  • Lehigh Acres: 100.0% open
  • North Fort Myers: 74.8% open
  • Pine Island: 66.3% open
  • Sanibel: 17.5% open

You’ll find that the numbers show Fort Myers Beach, Captiva, and Sanibel struggling to reopen. They are the three hit hardest by Ian.

Boca Grande, Cape Coral, Estero and Lehigh Acres are the only areas fully open at 100% capacity.

Lee County also shared that during April 2024, 1,133,256 passengers traveled through Southwest Florida International Airport, an increase of 15.5% in comparison to April 2023.

Many said it is going to take some time, and not just a couple of years, it is going to take a lot of time.

Laura Becker traveled all the way to Fort Myers Beach from Minnesota.

“It’s a very lowkey vibe and a very fun place to be,” Becker said.

She’s staying in Cape Coral but wanted to stay on Fort Myers Beach.

When Becker looked at places on the island for her entire family, she couldn’t find what she wanted.

WINK News spoke with Jacki Liszak from the Fort Myers Beach Chamber of Commerce.

“As of this week, we have about 1,755 rooms available, that’s a hotel and vacation rental. Pre-storm, I have that we had 4,315 rooms and vacation rentals available,” Liszak said.

Those who spoke to WINK News on Friday said they are staying in surrounding areas, and not actually on the island, due to the limited options.

“We’re here to help rebuild houses after [the] hurricane and for people that don’t have the money to support to do it. And, we’ve been like talking and doing flooring and painting inside people’s houses,” a missionary group from Minnesota said.

The three-day rainstorm messed up their plans.

“Most of the things we’re doing like inside were also like low-income houses, so it was obviously not like the best situation with rain,” they said.

As well as Laura’s beach day.

“It’s not fun we did that drove through flooding yesterday. We actually tried to hit some of the other islands and got turned around because the roads were closed because we kept trying to find beaches, but not so much fun. We did puzzles and indoor games,” Becker said.

Locals were also shocked to see the rain.

“It’s the craziest rain I’ve seen since Ian. It was horrifying,” Paula Gray, a local, said.

Maybe in years, the area will be rebuilt.

“We’re not even close yet to gaining back what we had pre-storm,” Liszak said.

But there is hope.

“It’s very good. Feels good to be back,” Becker said.

Feels good to be back.

Liszak said even with the number of hotels and rentals in the process of opening on Fort Myers Beach, the numbers wouldn’t even come close to pre-Ian.

She said people could look forward to these in the future as the public would have access to new and great things, like rooftop terraces, new restaurants and bars.

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