Letter to the Editor: Scale matters in a small tropical town

The Marriott Hotel Resort & Spa is embarking on a public campaign to inform the folks as to the benefits and need to expand its facilities to meet the market of the 21st century. The expansion will add more conference/meeting space to the existing facility as well as adding rooms/suites.

The latest proposal requires the addition of significant number of parking space. Why the concern?

Marriott General Manager Rick Medwedeff’s opening salvo was to dispel rumors circulating about the size of convention centers. He showed the Orlando and Tampa convention centers with meeting space in the millions of feet. Folks would have been better served if he provided a more realistic perspective by comparing the size of various Marriott Resort & Hotel branded hotels in Florida for a fair comparison, specifically total conference and meeting room space. More important is the size of meeting space relative to the communities that host them.

To offer a perspective, I believe scale is important. When reviewing the 29 Marriott hotels under this brand in Florida, the current Marco Island Beach Resort is the thrid largest in terms of total meeting space as defined in the online Marriott website. The top five are:

Marriott Hotel & Resort (Brand) Meeting space Population Location

Orlando World Center 450,000 250,415 Orlando

Fort Lauderdale Harbor Beach & Spa 100,000 170,065 Fort Lauderdale

Marco Island Beach Resort & Spa 56,888 16,556 Marco Island

Sawgrass Golf Resort & Spa 56,000 832,993 Jacksonville

Tampa Waterside 50,000 346,609 Tampa

The expansion will provide total meeting space approaching 73,000 feet with an additional 15,943 feet for restaurant and bars.

Given this scale, Marco is looking more like the large metropolis than the “tropical small town and resort character” found in the documents that control the future development on this island.

There is a cry among many residents to not become a Fort Lauderdale. I believe we are about to cross that road at 400 South Collier Boulevard, Marco Island.

Alfred Marchand

Marco Island

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Comments » 32

lauralbi1 writes:

Dear Mr. Marchand: Please take a look at the original plan developed by Deltona Corporation. Not only does it represent the antithesis of a small Tropical "Town", but if not for Veteran's Park, our Island would be even more dense and have more traffic.
The Marriott is the largest charitable organization on the Island. The Marriott pays the most County and City taxes on the Island. The delta that the Marriott is requesting will have no impact on your quality of life, if you are even here during summer. Yes, I am biased, but you need to appreciate the impact to restaurants and other businesses and your property values when you micro-analyze like you are doing.
Ed Issler

marco826 writes:

I for one an not opposed to the Marriott expansion. Opponents are making hysterical claims dooming Marco island as if the Marriott is planning to overtake the entire Island for their self serving needs. Marco remains a sleepy town with a busy main boulevard.....Let's be honest, our town fathers allowed that distinction a long time ago. Every conceivable commercial enterprise exists on Collier Blvd. Now people are trying to make the Marriott out to be the Big Bad Wolf.....silly.

MrBreeze writes:

When will you two fools just leave. Stop with the rah,rah, already. We know that one has a business interest in the deal and the other one who knows? But please, do you really think people are as s----- as you to believe your crap?

Wake up fools, people pay alot of property taxes on this island. There are alot of million and multi-million dollar properties that pay taxes. You fools think that the Marriott is everthing. Just keep thinking it and maybee you can convince each other to believe it.

MrBreeze writes:

As far as I am concerned, every resturant and business on Marco Island could close if it meant the place to become a tourist trap.

Deltona never thought that, so stop making such ignorant statements. Deltona was about the residents.

If it were not for the legal battle Deltona was in, I doubt they would have ever sold the hotel property at all.

tikihut2206 writes:

in response to marco826:

I for one an not opposed to the Marriott expansion. Opponents are making hysterical claims dooming Marco island as if the Marriott is planning to overtake the entire Island for their self serving needs. Marco remains a sleepy town with a busy main boulevard.....Let's be honest, our town fathers allowed that distinction a long time ago. Every conceivable commercial enterprise exists on Collier Blvd. Now people are trying to make the Marriott out to be the Big Bad Wolf.....silly.

I agree with you..really what is wrong with the Marriott expanding..I just received a letter from Marco Island because I live next to the hotel...I don't care if they expand...more money for the Island...

SmallTownAdvocate writes:

Here is the official rebuttal from the Marco Marriott:

http://www.marcoislandflorida.com/art...

I love it! The heading provides a clue as to the nature of convention centers:

"Marriott GM: Redevepment (sic) will allow resort to be competitive with other state meeting facilities"

So Marco Island is now competing with STATE meeting facilities!!!!!!!

Time for a real conversation outside of the town hall "sales presentation"!!!!!!!

I am a small town advocate and simply reflecting the laid out land plans and future direction as stated in the City of Marco Island Comprehensive Plan and evaluated through the Evaluation and Analysis Report (EAR).

http://www.cityofmarcoisland.com/inde...

Documents matter and that includes a PUD agreement with very specific language and few restrictions/limitations: HEIGHT NO HIGHER THAN 100' ON WEST SIDE AND NO ELEVATED PARKING ON THE EAST SIDE OF COLLIER.

Not difficult to comprehend, no ambiguity.

But I truly love the GM's comparison of ratio of meeting space to # of rooms since it simply portrays the obvious... large facilities have large meeting rooms, but they are still not typically found in small communities!

seasonala writes:

An official rebuttal from the General Manager of the Marco Marriott:

http://www.marcoislandflorida.com/art...

The argument is specious since its about size relative to community NOT size of room relative to convention hall, or is it exhibit hall, or now ballroom. So many changes in such a short time frame.

ajm3s writes:

in response to seasonala:

An official rebuttal from the General Manager of the Marco Marriott:

http://www.marcoislandflorida.com/art...

The argument is specious since its about size relative to community NOT size of room relative to convention hall, or is it exhibit hall, or now ballroom. So many changes in such a short time frame.

I believe you are referring to the GM of the Marriott claim that the ratio of total rooms to meeting rooms is the important metric.

What is in a name? Well, to dispel rumors that the Marco Island Marriott is NOT a convention center....can the Marriott please explain the name of it affiliate called:

Fort Lauderdale Marriott Coral Springs Hotel, Golf Club & Convention Center

http://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel...

So what is in the name or rumor? There will be those who will claim we are rumormongers!

For the record, the first Marriott town hall meeting (aka sales presentation) had Level 1 Exhibit Hall, second town meeting revised Level 1 to Ballroom, without a change in specifications.

Konfuzius writes:

in response to lauralbi1:

Dear Mr. Marchand: Please take a look at the original plan developed by Deltona Corporation. Not only does it represent the antithesis of a small Tropical "Town", but if not for Veteran's Park, our Island would be even more dense and have more traffic.
The Marriott is the largest charitable organization on the Island. The Marriott pays the most County and City taxes on the Island. The delta that the Marriott is requesting will have no impact on your quality of life, if you are even here during summer. Yes, I am biased, but you need to appreciate the impact to restaurants and other businesses and your property values when you micro-analyze like you are doing.
Ed Issler

"Yes, I am biased, but you need to appreciate the impact to restaurants and other businesses and your property values when you micro-analyze like you are doing."

Eddi,Eddi,

what will you do me believing? You have special business interest in the Marriott expansion.
Why shall I look in the original plan developed by Deltona Corporation created 40 years ago? Maybe 50. We are living now under different circumstances. The BS from the past is not relevant anymore if the people today want another plan by the majority or by political decisions of our free elected and powerful city councilor parliament.
If I follow you I will open next time the most fantastic strip-club in southwest Florida on Marco Island, located next to the cemetery C-$ zoning, donate every month the double amount of the Marriott cooperation for charities and everything is fine? That is your moral. Money talks, BS walks. That is not a concept for Marco Island and his citizens. They want to preserve their paradise. Nothing else. For this expansions of Marriott and Rose Marine is no space in the heard of the majority of Marco Island peoples.
I follow Alfred Marchand:

"There is a cry among many residents to not become a Fort Lauderdale. I believe we are about to cross that road at 400 South Collier Boulevard, Marco Island."

You hear me Eddi? I am crying!

MrBreeze writes:

tiki2206 Maybee you believe that the expansion next door will boost your already upside down value of your property. Maybee yes, and maybee no. Might go down even further.

26yearsonmarco writes:

Just think how much room the Marriott would have for expansion if Mass Mutual didn't build the monster condo next door.

Marriott is now faced with building a mountain out of a mole hill.

GorgonZola writes:

Wake up indeed. The Marriott expansion is NOT about Marco Island (it just happens to be located here) and it sure as shootin' isn't about the residents who live here: it's all about THE MARRIOTT! People who come to the Marriott for conventions or any other reason tend to eat, sleep, and live there. Their contributions to the island's commercial life is negligent -- unless the tuck shop is out of toothpaste or they can't find their size of bathing suit which they left at home.
When we take our families on a holiday to a large resort, we look for a place that has all the amenities under one roof -- that's what we pay for. We live in our resort clothes and bikinis and can't be bothered to put on more than a cover-up when we want a meal. As for affecting the value of your real estate -- dream on! It's too late to sell if you are close to the new building, and having a monster hotel on the island certainly won't increase anyone's house value. As for affecting the life style, if you live here year-round of course you will see an increase in traffic for the next two years as construction carries on. Plain and simple: the Marriott is only out for the Marriott -- how naive can you be!

MrBreeze writes:

Gorgonzola Excellent!!! Right on. Just look at how many bars have folded up on Collier. I went to the Toucan Bar in April and it was gone in September. The Marriott is not going to make local business grow.

tikihut2206 writes:

in response to MrBreeze:

tiki2206 Maybee you believe that the expansion next door will boost your already upside down value of your property. Maybee yes, and maybee no. Might go down even further.

MrBreeze...not talking about value of my property just saying will bring in more money to Marco...which is a good thing...

Konfuzius writes:

in response to tikihut2206:

MrBreeze...not talking about value of my property just saying will bring in more money to Marco...which is a good thing...

Money god!?!?

ajm3s writes:

in response to MrBreeze:

Gorgonzola Excellent!!! Right on. Just look at how many bars have folded up on Collier. I went to the Toucan Bar in April and it was gone in September. The Marriott is not going to make local business grow.

Bear in mind, the Marriott expansion is adding two bars and a restaurant which require 55 parking spaces. I guess this is the new restaurant on Collier Boulevard under the Marriott sign.

And this will lead to a preponderance of new business in Olde Marco? Perhaps but I believe the money will be spent primarily on Collier and more specifically at 400 Collier Boulevard on a bar seat. Love improved margins and no need to drive.

The Marriott business plan is to provide as many amenities including retail shop that will keep guests on site for a greater portion of the stay especially near the pool or 15,800 ft2 game room with bar during inclement weather. A home away from home all under one roof!

Folks! It is about the Marriott which is good for the Marriott! And when the 800 lb gorilla wants a bigger cage to grow, must be oblige or does it need a larger zoo with more grounds?

MrBreeze writes:

ajm3s Right again. People staying at the Marriott are just going to do that "stay at the Marriott" they are not going out to the local business or venture out to explore the island. Some may, most will not.

Konfuzius writes:

in response to ajm3s:

Bear in mind, the Marriott expansion is adding two bars and a restaurant which require 55 parking spaces. I guess this is the new restaurant on Collier Boulevard under the Marriott sign.

And this will lead to a preponderance of new business in Olde Marco? Perhaps but I believe the money will be spent primarily on Collier and more specifically at 400 Collier Boulevard on a bar seat. Love improved margins and no need to drive.

The Marriott business plan is to provide as many amenities including retail shop that will keep guests on site for a greater portion of the stay especially near the pool or 15,800 ft2 game room with bar during inclement weather. A home away from home all under one roof!

Folks! It is about the Marriott which is good for the Marriott! And when the 800 lb gorilla wants a bigger cage to grow, must be oblige or does it need a larger zoo with more grounds?

Marriott Island is a long time business development plan of Mass Mutual. If this project is finished the next will be the final development of the Marriott Vacation Club property. The entire infrastructure for all of this is paid by the citizens of MARCO!!! ISLAND!!!! Collier Boulevard, Smokehouse Bay bridge, SEWER and and and. What a great plan.

Expensive by the peoples, profit by Mass Mutual?Marriott!!!!

Especially if some people believe on this blog, Marriott BRINGS a LOT of money. All the money the citizens of MARCO!!!ISLAND!!! paid will be never recovered from that what Marriott will pay now and in the future. If you have a resort concept than you have a resort concept. That means: EVERYTHING under ONE roof. There is no big impact for small businesses on MARCO!!!ISLAND!!! The other way around is fact. Marriott gets a LOT of money from the citizens of MARCO!!!ISLAND!!!.
Many Marco Islander rent rooms for family members or friends. Celebrate weddings or family parties. Did they get a MARCO!!!ISLAND!!! discount? Of course not. Marco Islander have money. Go out for dinner TO Marriott or just sitting by sunset in the Sunset Grill on the bar and enjoy the evening atmsopshere. Don't understand me wrong. Marriott has nice facilities. I like to eat Sushi and Sashimi at the "Cougar Bar' inside the lobby. Marriott offers a great service and best quality. But to believe that Marriott brings a big money impact to MARCO!!!ISLAND!!! and small businesses are fond hopes of naive peoples.

One more time! This is a political subject. If the majority of Marco Islander want the change to Marriott Island let them vote.
It is REFERENDUM time. Nothing else.
I will keep MARCO!!!ISLAND!!!

lauralbi1 writes:

I really had to take a moment and temper my response as there are bloggers above that have absolutely NO IDEA about what thet are talking about. My wife and I personally send 100's of people from the Marriott, each month, to eateries and businesses om Marco Island. I suggest to those of you above that actually want to know the truth, that you go around and ask the owners of the restaurants on Marco Island the following question "if the Marriott closed up, would your business be able to continue more than 1 year?".
You people above that think that your property values and the appearance of Marco Island have nothing to do with the Marriott are burying your heads in the sand. That, along with the MIA and other local charities have their success directly related to the Marriott.
I dare any one of you to speak with local business owners and let us know the results !!!
It just goes to show how lame the arguments are and how naïve and out of date some of you are.
Ed Issler

MrBreeze writes:

I would ask this question. How long would you be able to last in business without the Marriott? Maybee the day might come when then space you have might become more viable to something else inside the Marriott.

Remember, bigger is not always better....

RayNetherwood writes:

Whenever I find myself in agreement with Konfuzius, I do a double take. Let the Marriott do whatever it wishes within its walls ... but hold it to the contract it signed.

Ed .... if you have any sense of objectivity, is there nothing that you would find objectionable while the Marriott lined its coffers (and you lined yours)? Why not a three - story parking garage? A pedestrian bridge over Collier, why not let the Marriott build to 20 stories ... rival Cape Marco ??? After all, wouldn't that be good for business? Isn't that what it's all about?

Residents don't matter, quality of life doesn't matter, safety doesn't matter, it's clearly all about what winds up in your wallet. I didn't move here for YOUR wallet.

ajm3s writes:

in response to lauralbi1:

I really had to take a moment and temper my response as there are bloggers above that have absolutely NO IDEA about what thet are talking about. My wife and I personally send 100's of people from the Marriott, each month, to eateries and businesses om Marco Island. I suggest to those of you above that actually want to know the truth, that you go around and ask the owners of the restaurants on Marco Island the following question "if the Marriott closed up, would your business be able to continue more than 1 year?".
You people above that think that your property values and the appearance of Marco Island have nothing to do with the Marriott are burying your heads in the sand. That, along with the MIA and other local charities have their success directly related to the Marriott.
I dare any one of you to speak with local business owners and let us know the results !!!
It just goes to show how lame the arguments are and how naïve and out of date some of you are.
Ed Issler

The majority of businesses and bulk of their business on this island serve the residents, i.e. supermarkets, car repair shops, marinas with boat storage, laundromats/cleaners, legal services, real estate agents (yes even real estate agents that sell homes and condos) for most of their business is NOT from Marriott referrals.

In fact, I will go on record the Marriott is taking advantage of the "small tropical town" ambiance to lure summer tourists and companies to a quiet retreat away from the hustle and bustle of metropolitan environment.

To be pithy, the Marriott over-expansion will soil the fabric of Marco Island's "small tropical town" atmosphere for the its own benefit and those that have much to gain from an over-expansion are complicit in spoiling the waters as well.

And to Mr. Ed, (not the talking horse) I suggest you hone your driving skills the Marriott will require more valet attendants....since Mr. Medwedeff said at the MIPO meeting last nite: "will reduce pedestrian traffic crossing the street".

I thought that was the intent of the wider sidewalks on Collier? Or we are now going to have more vehicles crossing the street? Oh what are we to do....since the Marriott will not increase traffic per Mr. Medwedeff?

God help us all!

MrBreeze writes:

RayNetherwood & Ajm3s I agree totally. You are both correct in the sense of its a "money thing". Let them go ruin another town with overbuilding. I Love it the way it is. I would have liked to seen it in 1970 when my house was built. I think it was probally something to see when it was new.

Tom_Massie writes:

I would like to take a opportunity to look at the so called bringing more business to Marco businesses as the GM has claimed.

Did anyone consider the amount of restaurant business that the Marriott has actually taken away from local restaurants? How many restaurants have had to close their doors because some of us locals have gone to the Marriott for Sushi and such?

This whole line that the Marriott brings business to us is contraindicated by the local businesses who have suffered as a result of The Marriott eating up their profits.

Come on now folks, do you, really, think that The Marriott gives a rat's derriere about other local business establishments?

They are in it to get larger crowds, more money and could care less about anything else including the residents of this island.

Tell your City Councilors NO to this gold digging plan.

Tom Sr.

Konfuzius writes:

in response to RayNetherwood:

Whenever I find myself in agreement with Konfuzius, I do a double take. Let the Marriott do whatever it wishes within its walls ... but hold it to the contract it signed.

Ed .... if you have any sense of objectivity, is there nothing that you would find objectionable while the Marriott lined its coffers (and you lined yours)? Why not a three - story parking garage? A pedestrian bridge over Collier, why not let the Marriott build to 20 stories ... rival Cape Marco ??? After all, wouldn't that be good for business? Isn't that what it's all about?

Residents don't matter, quality of life doesn't matter, safety doesn't matter, it's clearly all about what winds up in your wallet. I didn't move here for YOUR wallet.

"Whenever I find myself in agreement with Konfuzius, I do a double take."

Why that? I have the most common sense on this blog. I have an independent opinion. I tell the truth. I know what's up. But the most valuable character is: I am critical! Even against Gods most preferred nation: America!
So I am happy that so many of my enemies on this blog follow my criteria for evaluation that the Marriott project is a big "miss mutual" against our island interests!

Eddi,

you are excused. Your self contamination asbestos test shows effects. You have no bearing anymore. Marriott is not a business bringer for Marco!!!Island!!!.
It is a business taker for Marco!!!Island!!! small businesses.
However - it is a political subject. Let the people of Marco!!!Island!!! decide what they want.

Marco!!!Island!!! or (Marriott Island)

Konfuzius writes:

in response to Peter_Panzer:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

OHHHHHH!!!!!
SS General Fegelein is back. Now as Peter Panzer. Identity is Al (I guess he means ALBERT) Speer another celebrity of the German Nazis. And in best NAZI German he attacked with NAZI wording honorable Marco Islander like

Councilor Joe Batte
Councilor Bob Brown
Chairman Kenneth E. Honecker
Councilor Larry Honig
Councilor Chuck Kiester
Councilor Amadeo R. Petricca
Vice Chairman Larry Sacher

I mean how sick can you be to insult over and over again other people with this execrative Nazi wording. Hopefully marconews staff stopped him immediately. No one council member has it deserved to be insult in this way.

Konfuzius writes:

in response to Peter_Panzer:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Removal of corruption with name lists means in Nazi Germany gas chamber!
You are just sick!

BarbieDoll writes:

My goodness, talk about phobias run amok. Since when does a person become sick because they are multilingual?

tikihut2206 writes:

in response to Konfuzius:

Money god!?!?

guess u have the money to afford taxes on Marco..but some of us would like to see lower taxes..if I live next to Marriott and don't care...why should you..do you live on South Collier...

MrBreeze writes:

tikihut2206 That is where you are making a mistake. The Marriott expansion will not lead to lower taxes it could lead to just the opposite higher taxes.

With growth comes cost. The infrastructure burden alone with more need for public safety, Police, Fire, EMS all adds costs.

Is the Marriott going to have their own EMS? If one of the guests falls ill or has become drunk or unruly is their a Marriott Police Force and EMS service to handle the situation? Do they call Marco Island Police and Fire? If the building has a fire from a display from a convention booth do they have a Marriott Fire Dept on site?

Simple math is the money that Marriott will pay in taxes can easily be used up and ultimately the Taxpayers of Marco Island will be paying more for a reduced quality of life on the island as we know it currently.

So tikihut, please try to have a open opinion on this matter as you live next door and can be greatly effected financially by this project.

ajm3s writes:

in response to tikihut2206:

guess u have the money to afford taxes on Marco..but some of us would like to see lower taxes..if I live next to Marriott and don't care...why should you..do you live on South Collier...

For the record, the Marriott located on 400 Collier Blvd S is situated on two lots that are valued at 73.4MM of which the city and county collects $830,757

The equivalent of about 120 new single family homes. Now which do you think contributes more to this island for the benefit of funding the city government? Homes or hotels?

For the month of January there were 11 new permits issued for single family homes alone.

The bulk of tax revenue on Marco Island is from condo and single family homeowners.

How's that for tax revenue! The hidden jewel that the Marriott wants to exploit by building a larger facility on a plot of land that quite honestly is only about 17 acres and 10 acres of parking across the street.

Perhaps the Marriott could consider scaling down and meld into a small tropical setting, like the Hilton and Marco Beach resort just south on Collier.

We all know the feeling when guests wear out their welcome and become too demanding and want more. I think its time the Marriott abide by the land codes and special consideration it received when the city reclassified the lots as a Planned Unit Development to include the Madeira to build above the height limits established for residential tourist zoning.

Folks, the way it works, if you do not like the zoning simply get a few neighbors and create a PUD with a whole set of new regulations, except in the Marco Beach Resort PUD they gave more height to the Madeira and stipulated the Marriott would not exceed 100' for any redevelopment. And 13 years later they wan to renege.

On another note:

If you review the list of hotels that compete (i.e existing competitive set) with the Marriott per Mr. Medwedeff, the total number of rooms do not exceed 475 rooms.

Marco Island Marriott Resort Existing Competitive Set:

Sanibel Harbor Marriott: 383 rooms 45,000 ft2 of meeting space

Naples Waldorf Astoria: 474 rooms 49,000 ft2 of meeting space

Hyatt Coconut Point: 454 rooms, 38,261 ft2 of meeting space

Are we seeing the 800# gorilla or is it 810 room gorilla!

MrBreeze writes:

ajm3s Agree! It is like the guy who wants to build the largest house on the smallest/cheapest lot. All it brings is divide in the neighborhood and it never fits in. I agree it would be if five neighbors form a PUD and a "Resort Rental" designation could then occur.

This is textbook, stay to the rules that were agreed to when the PUD was granted plain and simple.

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