A hallelujah moment on Jekyll Island
The Brunswick News
By Donna Stillinger
April 21, 2015

For Jones Hooks, one word was all that was necessary to express his jubilance at the opening of the Westin, Jekyll Island’s newest hotel: hallelujah!

“This is a hallelujah moment!” exclaimed Hooks, executive director of the Jekyll Island Authority during the ribbon cutting ceremony Monday of the new Westin Jekyll Island.

The convention-class, beachfront hotel will officially welcome its first overnight guests this week. Some 1,500 people will make their way to Jekyll Wednesday for the annual conference of Rotary Club’s District 6900.

The Westin will serve as the host hotel.

The hotel is part of the Beach Village project that includes a retail center, the hotel and the 128,000-square-foot Jekyll Island Convention Center.

The Westin is owned by Jekyll Oceanfront Hotel, LLC, a joint venture of Leon N. Weiner & Associates, Inc., a nationally recognized real estate development company, New Castle Hotels & Resorts, an award-winning, independent third-party hotel manager, owner and developer, as well as several other investors.

Representatives from the companies gathered with members and staff of the Jekyll Island Authority to celebrate the occasion.

“This hotel was built to be a catalyst for the revitalization of Jekyll Island,” said Dave Curtis, president of Leon N. Weiner and Associates.

“The Westin Jekyll Island will give a significant boost to the local and regional economy and there’s no better group than the Rotary, business people devoted to community service, to appreciate that importance and help us christen it with a celebration of their own.”

Curtis is part of the team that spearheaded the renovations of the Jekyll Island Club 30 years ago and fell in love with the island.

“I fell in love with the Jekyll Island Club and this island when we started working here a long time ago. The projects we have worked on here have been a labor of love for me over the last 30 years. The opening of the Westin is another chapter in this love story,” Curtis said.

David Buffam, chief executive officer of New Castle Hotels and Resorts, said the Westin brand fits in perfectly with Jekyll’s vision.

“Jekyll Island is known for its thoughtful stewardship of the island’s environment and its storied past. That’s why the Westin brand, with its emphasis on well-being and careful handling of natural resources, was the preferred choice for this one-of-a-kind project,” Buffam stated.

“We are confident that this combination of location, premium convention facilities and well-chosen hotel brand will resonate with leisure travelers and meeting planners in search of a destination that satisfies the mind, body and soul.”

JIA Chairman Richard Royal echoed Curtis’s feelings on the island’s rejuvenation, saying he is looking forward to the positive impact the new hotel will have on the island’s visitors and economy.

“The opening of the new Westin hotel on Jekyll Island is yet another significant step in the revitalization of this beautiful island,” he said.

The Westin Jekyll Island features ocean views and direct beach access, along with all of the amenities of the brand.

The hotel features The Reserve, an upscale, casual restaurant; Salty’s, a poolside bar and café for cocktails and lighter fare; and Harry’s at The Reserve, the hotel’s outdoor rooftop bar, where guests can enjoy sweeping views of the beach and ocean.

There is a 5,350 square foot indoor meeting space, as well as outdoor venues for smaller events, a group workspace, gym, and, of course, a resort-style outdoor pool, beach chair and umbrella service.

Alex Lugo, the Westin’s general manager, said Monday’s opening was a hallmark in the rejuvenation of Jekyll Island, one that he and the entire development team and staff are excited and honored to be a part of.

“We have all had a lot of sleepless nights, but they are all worth it. We are honored to be here on Jekyll and to serve the island’s visitors and residents,” he said.

Lugo said the hotel is completely booked through the weekend with the available rooms it has. More rooms should open up as work is completed.

Reporter Donna Stillinger writes about government and other local topics. Contact her at dstillinger@thebrunswicknews.com or at 265-8320, ext. 321.

Reporter Donna Stillinger writes about government and other local topics. Contact her at dstillinger@thebrunswicknews.com or at 265-8320, ext. 321.