MARCO ISLAND, Fla. — After three and a half years of rebuilding and renovation, employees of Marco Island's JW Marriott celebrated their new look with a champagne toast on the beach Monday.
"We needed to elevate our level of service and luxury," said JW Marriott general manager Sharon Lockwood.
That meant closing the Marriott - one of Southwest Florida's major resorts - for three months at one point during the heaviest period of construction.
With over eight hundred rooms, architect Malcolm Berg said one of the most challenging tasks was to create a building that didn't appear too massive on the beach.
"When you look at other towers that are very imposing on the beachfront, this tower actually recedes back in a stepping fashion in order to create those sweeping vistas of the sky," Berg said.
Lockwood said that the hotel has added almost a hundred and fifty new jobs - and she said that isn't the only way the resort is helping the island's economy. They're also heavily marketing the Marriott's convention amenities.
"You take the unparalleled one hundred thousand square feet of meeting space we have now, and it opens up a whole new set of customers," Lockwood said.
With that boost in convention tourism, Marco Island's Chamber of Commerce director Dianna Dohm is excited about the potential year-round impacts the Marriott will have on the island's businesses during the off-season summer months.
"We foresee a lot more people coming to visit, and using our restaurants and recreational facilities throughout the year, not just during season," Dohm said.