Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Suite Time for Jekyll Lodging Offerings; Construction on the Island's First Hotel in 36 Years Begins Today

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Suite Time for Jekyll Lodging Offerings; Construction on the Island's First Hotel in 36 Years Begins Today

Article excerpt

Byline: CAROLE HAWKINS

JEKYLL ISLAND - Today a decades-old spell on Jekyll Island hotel businesses will be broken. The Hampton Inn Hotel and Suites, the first new hotel the barrier island has seen in 36 years, will begin construction. The project closes a chapter of infrastructure decline at the state park.

Designed by a local development group, the Hampton Inn and Suites will target mid-market consumers, said Kevin Runner, general manager of the Jekyll Island Club Hotel.

"For Jekyll Island it means we're going to offer something that hasn't been seen in over 30 years - a new hotel." he said. "Hampton Inn is a solid, value-driven product."

There will be a ceremonial groundbreaking today on a 138-room hotel, the first of three phases of the $75 million project. Phase two will add a conference center, a restaurant and boutique and 88 rooms. Phase three will build a 66-room condo-style hotel, with kitchenettes for long-term stays. The whole resort will be called Jekyll Island Club Beach Village.

It will be built by Jekyll Ocean Oaks, a local development team, and will have the same owners as the Jekyll Island Club Hotel, Runner said.

The Hampton Inn will replace the Holiday Inn, which had been the island's newest hotel before it was torn down in May 2006. The Holiday Inn was built in 1972.

Jekyll's hotels had suffered decline for many years, according to Runner, because old lease structures did not encourage property reinvestment. But new extended leases and business friendly agreements have been turning the tide.

The governing Jekyll Island State Park Authority issues leases on the state-owned barrier island.

"Thirty years ago, Jekyll Island State Park had something for everyone," Runner said. "We had the mom and pop hotels, mid-market inns, the Jekyll Island Club Hotel and a convention center that was state of the art. …

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