Sea change: Marco Beach Ocean Resort undergoing a shift

Lance Shearer
Correspondent
Much is not clear about what is taking place at Marco Beach Ocean Resort, but two things are clear: the facility is undergoing major changes, and nobody wants to talk about it.

Much is not clear about what is taking place at Marco Beach Ocean Resort, but two things are clear: the facility is undergoing major changes, and nobody wants to talk about it.

At least not on the record. The “all-suite beachfront boutique resort” (description from their website) on Collier Boulevard has been operated primarily as a hotel for years, but the 103 suites were owned by individual owners, who had the option of participating or not in the overall room rental program.

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Unit owners participating in the program received a letter dated February 1, 2022 from FCC Hotel Tower LLC, the rental manager, notifying them that the rental agreement is being terminated.

“As we discussed, we are disappointed to inform you that the number of Units in the Hotel Program has decreased to less than sixty (60) and the revised Projected NOI … has decreased by more than 10%. …  please allow this letter to serve as the Hotel Manager’s three (3) months written notice of its decision to terminate the Agreement, effective May 2nd, 2022.”

Attempts to reach Gulf Bay Group of Properties, the developer of Marco Beach Ocean Resort (MBOR), for comment were unsuccessful. Chelsea Kolenda, the MBOR general manager, did not return several calls seeking comment.

While the website for renting hotel suites at MBOR is still active, every date through the end of this year entered into the system failed to allow a reservation. Most dates are simply x’ed out, and those that are not display a message, “You selected a restricted date. A date within your stay is not available.” If reservations had been available, prices during the month of April would range from $917 to $1,002 per night.

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The event that triggered the sudden drop in the number of units in the hotel program appears to have been the sale of a large block of units. The Collier County Property Appraiser website shows 22 MBOR units owned by an entity listed as MBOR Investments LLC, with one massive transaction on Dec. 7, 2021, with a price of $9,000,000.

In all, the property appraiser’s site lists 22 units as owned by MBOR Investments, with acquisition dates for 18 units indicated as Dec. 7, and the others going back April of 2018, May of 2019, and June of 2020. The last transaction took place on Jan. 11, at a price of $485,000. The principal representative of MBOR Investments is Thomas A. Drummond. Through a third party, he declined to be interviewed or give a statement for this article.

Rental of hotel rooms still seems to be available through third party booking companies, such as Expedia, Tripadvisor, Kayak, Orbitz, and Hotels.com. But therein lies what has been part of the issue at MBOR.

While the number one amenity at the resort is surely the strip of sugar sand Marco Island beach behind it, and the Gulf of Mexico waters, the property has a number of amenities and common areas on the property itself. As the overall owner of the property, Gulf Bay controls areas such as the lobby, parking garage, elevators and swimming pool.

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According to the MBOR website, the resort “also features a spa and fitness center, executive conference rooms, waterfront ballroom, rooftop swimming pool, beach and poolside food and beverage service and casual and fine dining options.” What access guests or rental visitors of units that did not go through their central reservation system, and thereby furnish revenue to the developer, have to these amenities is an issue that presents itself anew with every new group of visitors. Sale e Pepe, the adjacent restaurant, is another question mark. 

The property underwent a comprehensive renovation in 2016 of its 78 one-bedroom and 15 two-bedroom suites, as well as updates on the resort’s Gulf Ballroom. Unit owners reportedly were notified last summer to expect an assessment for work needed to be done.

There are reports of staff being laid off at MBOR, but these could not be confirmed due to the lack of response from the resort’s management.

“We have 100 positions open with a total of 1,1100 in our workforce,” said Amanda Cox, director of sales and marketing at the JW Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort. “We would welcome those applicants with open arms, but we haven’t seen a flood” of applications.