Beach lures Jekyll hotel

The Brunswick News
By NIKKI WILEY
April 24, 2012

A third hotel could be constructed at the Jekyll Island beach.

Operators of the Jekyll Island Club Hotel, once a playground for wealthy American industrialists on the west side of the island, want to construct 39 beachfront suites near the island's new convention center at the Atlantic Ocean. Owners of the hotel presented their plans Monday at a meeting of the Jekyll Island Authority, which operates the island state park.

Their plan is to construct three three-story buildings as an extension of the Jekyll Island Club Hotel, said Dave Curtis, vice president of Jekyll Landmark Associates.

The new hotel would have guest rooms, a swimming pool, a small lawn where events could be held, and its own guest check-in area independent from the Jekyll Island Club Hotel.

The proposal falls in line with island revitalization plans that include a new convention center, retail village, beachfront park, a Hyatt Place hotel and a Westin hotel. The Hyatt Place and Westin hotels are expected to be completed by 2014.

Original revitalization plans called for three hotels, but when construction plans were drawn the third hotel was dropped because more space was needed for the Westin hotel and additional parking was planned for Great Dunes Park. A third hotel is the final piece of the island's revitalization, Curtis said.

Because the hotel is relatively small, Curtis expects it could be completed within six months after construction begins. Ideally, Curtis said he wants to begin work on the project in August, alongside construction of the Westin hotel, which is being constructed by his company, Jekyll Landmark Associates.

"We could probably have this open by March of next year," he said.

Jekyll Island Authority Board members approved the initial concept and design of the hotel, but were unwilling to give final approval because of uncertainty regarding the ongoing Westin hotel project. The Authority will hear more detailed plans at its board meeting in May.

Other revitalization projects on the island are continuing. Tenants for the Beach Village retail center are being solicited and letters have been sent to potential tenants, said Michael Dahmer, president of RetailWorks.

Of the 20 letters sent, 10 have been returned. Ground breaking is anticipated in October and construction is expected to last eight months.

The Beach Village's proximity to the convention center will be an asset for convention participants and business owners, Dahmer said.

The village will have a space to purchase and ship items for convention booths and an area for convention attendees to network between activities.

"A convention is going to require goods and services, and we want that to be accessible in the village," Dahmer said.

Dismantling of the temporary convention center campus in the island's historic district that has been used since the original beachfront center was razed in late 2010 will begin in late May, after the opening of the new convention center May 20.