When you first enter the property at the Marco Island Marriott Resort on South Collier Boulevard you can't help but be taken aback by the buzz of activity surrounding what will become one of the "crown jewels" in the Marriott Corporation's portfolio of properties.

"We want the island to be as proud of this property as all of us on the Marriott team are," said Rick Medwedeff, the longtime general manager of the resort facilities on Marco.

An army of more than 1,340 workers received badges to be on the property that is seeing a phased renovation. Not all are onsite all the time, but they are coming and going in a military-precise movement that would make a West Point graduate proud.

PCL Construction Services of Orlando is the lead contractor on the 90-day phase I section of the job. Phase 1 will see a major facelift of the interior of the lobby, office space, pool patio areas, restaurants, kitchens, parking facilities, air-conditioning plants and portico.

Work began on May 4, as the hotel facility closed to the public for the first time in its history, with the exception of an evacuation for Hurricane Wilma in October 2005. The resort is to reopen for business on Aug. 1.

"You're bound to run into some issues in a job of this magnitude, but I think we have a great team in place which has really stepped up to the challenges and is doing an outstanding job for us," said Medwedeff.

The second phase of the project will entail the construction of an entirely new tower with an additional 94 guest rooms. Those will be accompanied with a new roof-top dining area, pool and upscale lounge. All of these amenities will focus on views of the Gulf of Mexico. That construction will be done in a collaborative effort by both the Austin & Gilbane Companies.

Gilbane is on the property now, dismantling and removing the area that encompassed some of the older and outdated areas formerly used for meeting space.

"Those areas served us well for many years, but time and technology had frankly passed them by. When we would meet with potential clients they loved the property, but would be put off by the smaller rooms and no ability to cater to adequate break-out areas," said Bob Pleffer, the director of sales and marketing.

The new adult-only tower will sit above the newly constructed and configured meeting space.

Some of the work being done will help the facility to utilize space that was formerly lost to them in the basement areas and provide for improved storage and offices. As part of that they will also be expanding and improving the employee cafeteria and break area.

"The present cafeteria served us OK when we had only 350 people staying at the facility; we've outgrown that and are now looking at approximately 850 employees and we have to adequately provide for them," said Medwedeff.

When complete, the new facility will become Marriott's first waterfront JW Marriott.

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