The Marco Island Marriott was the location for two events for the island at the end of the week.

First, Rick Medwedeff, resort general manager, announced the kick-off of the impending $250 million renovation, set to begin on schedule on Monday, May 4.

It's ironic that the last event to be held at the facilities prior to the start of the renovation was a 50th anniversary celebration of the Mackle Brothers' creation of the community that is now Marco Island. That party was to be held on Friday at the Marriott; at its conclusion, the resort was to begin shutting down for the next 90 days.

When asked when the last customer will leave the hotel, Robert Pfeffer, director of sales and marketing, said by Sunday evening the facility would be devoid of guests. This will be the first time since Hurricane Wilma threatened the island in 2005 that the facilities would be closed to guests.

"The resort will gain an additional 84 rooms and the two new ballrooms and improved meeting space," said Medwedeff. "The meeting rooms will have 24-foot ceilings, a must in today's world of state-of-the-art audio/visual presentations, therefore enhancing the ability to attract top-shelf conference requests that the outdated older configurations couldn't.

"Couple the improved 100,000-square-feet of space with full-length windows for that open feeling and you have a win-win situation for the property and what we have to offer in this very competitive business," said Medwedeff.

The $250 million project will be financed in part by Marriott International and the MassMutual Insurance Co., the owner of the property on South Collier Boulevard.

The following is be accomplished while the resort is closed to the public from May 4-July 31, Medwedeff said. This is referred to as phase 1 of the project.

* A new Porte Cochere, lobby and grand front entrance to the hotel will be created;

* The popular Kurrents and Tropiks restaurants will be redesigned;

* A new tiki pool restaurant will be built;

* The southernmost end of the property housing today's ballrooms, some offices and support facilities will be demolished to make way for a new 110-foot tower;

* Renovations will begin on all bathrooms for a more luxurious experience for guests.

Phase 2

Phase 2 will commence on Aug. 1 and run through Dec. 31, 2016, and include the following:

* Creation of the Banyan and Calusa ballrooms and enhanced meeting spaces;

* Construction of a 94-room adults-only tower. This area will feature a rooftop pool, restaurant, bar and 12,000-square-foot indoor entertainment center;

* The new restaurant will feature a celebrity chef.

Throughout phase 2 of the project, all amenities on the property will be open to guests and functioning, Marriott officials told reporters on Friday.

As part of the demolition at the southernmost end of the property, 10 of the Lanai Suites will be demolished to make way for the expansion of the new tower, ballrooms and enhanced amenities. This will leave 20 of the popular Lanai Suites.

The conversion of the property to the JW Marriott brand will come on Jan. 1, 2017, at the completion of phase 2. There will be some minor work after that, but the major portion of the changes to convert the Marco property to the first-ever beachfront JW Marriott in the United States will be complete.

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