June 2, 2023


Just Do Travel

Naples Beach Hotel’s days are numbered with demolition to start soon

The Naples Beach Hotel’s days are numbered.

While the landmark hotel’s buildings off Gulf Shore Boulevard will soon come down, some of its elements will live on thanks to the new owners’ charitable donations.

The Athens Group and MSD Partners, who recently purchased the 125-acre hotel property for a multimillion-dollar redevelopment project, known as Naples Beach Club, began the site’s transformation by removing the remaining contents, inside and out.

Valuable contents went to four local charities: Habitat for Humanity, St. Matthew’s House, Greater Naples YMCA, and von Arx Wildlife Hospital.

Donations included everything from indoor and outdoor furnishings and kitchen supplies to towels and soap.

Lending a helping hand

Lisa Lefkow, CEO of Habitat for Humanity in Collier County, said her homebuilding charity received many bedroom suites, as well as patio furniture and other money-making items from the decades-old hotel.

“These things will be sold in our ReStores,” she said. “Some will end up in Habitat homes, as they are selected and purchased by homeowners. Others will end up around the community and the proceeds of all sales will help to build more Habitat homes.”

Last year, the chapter’s ReStores, selling donated furniture, appliances, home décor and building supplies, both new and used, in Collier County, netted more than $1 million to help build homes for families in need.

The von Arx Wildlife Hospital at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida received towels, its No. 1 ongoing need, said Joanna Fitzgerald, the director.

“We care for thousands of injured, sick and orphaned animals each year,” she said. “To have this donation of towels from Naples Beach Hotel is a huge help for our wildlife hospital, especially as wildlife admissions are on the rise.”

Donations help charity’s operations

St. Matthew’s House received enough furnishings from the hotel to upgrade 24 guest rooms at its Port LaBelle Inn & Conference Center in Hendry County, said Steven Brooder, who became the charity’s permanent CEO last week, after serving in an interim role.

“That was awesome,” he said of the donations.

The Port LaBelle Inn operates as a social enterprise, generating money for the charity’s operations and providing temporary and permanent jobs and training to needy clients as they look to rebuild their lives.

Donations included bed frames, tables and nightstands.

“It was just beautiful,” Brooder said.

Earlier this year, he said, St. Matthew’s House received boxes of food from the hotel’s freezers and pantries as it wound down its operations, which helped the charity feed the homeless.

“It was great when they backed up the truck here,” Brooder recalled.

The Greater Naples and South Collier YMCAs are “incredibly grateful” for the donations they received, said Richard Tamer, sports director.

“They donated a wide range of equipment and supplies, including but not limited to, kids toys, pool chair lifts, golf carts, tables, chairs and more,” he said. “Their generous donations will make a lasting impact for both YMCAs for years to come. We are very thankful,” he said.

A step forward

The salvage operation at the Naples Beach Hotel marks an important step forward for the property’s new owners, as it will make way for the demolition of the former hotel’s buildings.

In a statement, Jay Newman, chief operatin
g officer of The Athens Group, said demolition would begin after the new year and take about three months.

A new five-star, 216-room Four Seasons resort is anticipated to open in mid-to-late 2024, along with a Market Square — and the first residences — in the new Naples Beach Club development.

Market Square will include shopping, dining and entertainment options, offering a new and unique experience, open to residents, guests and the community.

The first residences will be built on the beachside and in a mixed-use building in Market Square, across the street. 

A new life

The upscale project will include up to 185 homes designed by renowned architectural firm Hart Howerton, headquartered in New York and San Francisco.

The new resort will mark the debut of Four Seasons on Florida’s Gulf Coast.

The Athens Group and MSD Properties purchased the vast property last month in what one real estate observer described as a ‘monster deal,’ paying more than $362 million for the hotel and its other assets, including its 18-hole championship golf course and tennis center.

While many Naples residents welcome the project, a vocal group continues to oppose it, concerned about its size and scope and the future of the open, green space, most especially the golf course.

The new owners are raring to go.

“Although we have experienced some minor delays with respect to our overall schedule for the hotel, we are pleased to be moving forward with our redevelopment,” Newman said.