SW Florida's South Seas sailing to September open; and where is Bed Bath & Beyond closing?

Phil Fernandez
Naples Daily News

It's a question many have been asking about Captiva's South Seas Island Resort ‒ like Naples resident Charles A. Turner this week:

"When are they projecting to reopen?"

More:With LeBron, Brady in on pickleball, group seeks to rule Florida's indoor courts. What we know

And:'Old Florida is gone' but what will new Southwest Florida look like post-Ian?

Plus:Ian's impact went beyond damage. SW Florida led state in job losses by far

Celebrities:As indoor pickleball expands in Florida, who are world's big names investing in the sport?

In what's been described as a close to billion-dollar battering by Hurricane Ian, the storied South Seas Island Resort has set sail for a September reopening.

That would put it close to the one-year mark of the earth-shattering storm that slammed Southwest Florida Sept. 28.

“We estimate we had eight-and-a-half feet of storm surge,” said Greg Spencer, CEO of Winter Park-based Timbers Resorts, the compound's owner since 2021. “We took a pretty good hit. Almost every building on the property needs a new roof.”

Extensive renovations will provide the South Seas Resort on Captiva with a new look after Hurricane Ian's devastation.

The targeted date wouldn't be lost on Spencer, who first talked last year of Ian's timing.

"Ironically, our one-year anniversary was the day the storm hit," said Spencer, who referenced the renovation price tag. "We estimate it's going to be anywhere from $800 million to a billion."

All of the resort offices and support functions were destroyed, and retail buildings like the former Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grille were rendered likely unsalvageable, he said. The marina on the surface looked good, but divers have been cleaning up below the waterline, and gas pumps were destroyed.

Hurricane Ian hammered the South Seas Island Resort, which sits on 330 acres on Captiva.

Immediate plans include stabilizing facilities, then reopening the hotel and main swimming pool by September, said the Florida State and Columbia University-educated Spencer, who grew up in the Sunshine State.

Long-term goals will bring reconceptualization of the resort’s food and beverage operations and golf course, plus the building of an amenities-rich Captiva Club, he said. Rather than keeping all the features and services congregated at the island’s northernmost end, the idea calls for spreading them throughout the 330-acre property and along the 2.5 miles of beach.

Its return by Timbers, which operates 16 resorts in North America and Europe, is key for Sanibel and Captiva, where it occupies about a third of the island.

“I think Greg has instilled a sense of hope and pride in us all," said John Lai, president and CEO of Sanibel & Captiva Islands Chamber of Commerce. “We look forward with eager anticipation to South Seas’ comeback as the island gem it once was, and even more."

Balcony view from the South Seas Island Resort before Hurricane Ian.

Those who have been coming for decades would agree.

"We are patiently waiting," Lee County resident Heather Thomas said. "We live in Fort Myers so we’ve been coming to South Seas for years. We stay three to four times a year. We actually had a trip booked the week Ian hit us."

Atlanta visitor Pam Masters Mancosky said she's been going since the age of 7.

"I turn 49 this Saturday," she said last week. "I grew up coming almost every summer. Now all of us kids from then are grown, married and have kids of our own, and still vacation together at South Seas."

Bed Bath & Beyond closings; Naples, Cape Coral, Fort Myers spared

Struggling home goods retailer Bed Bath & Beyond is set to close dozens of additional stores, but this time around, Southwest Florida is not on this week's new list of 87 locations.

The permanent locking of those doors for 2023 come amid talks of the storied chain filing for bankruptcy protection. The additional shutdowns come just three weeks after it announced the shuttering of 62 stores.

More:What thousands of you told me about FMB Margaritaville expansion; and new housing rules

And:Margaritaville builders buy land of oldest FMB hotel; deals in Times Square, Bonita Beach

The organization has had two locations in Naples, one in Cape Coral and another in Fort Myers.

Here's where they are closing:

  • Apopka 
  • Brandon
  • Boca Raton
  • Boynton Beach 
  • Coral Springs
  • Delray Beach
  • Hialeah
  • Jacksonville
  • Orlando 
  • Royal Palm Beach 

Based at the Naples Daily News, Columnist Phil Fernandez ( writes In the Know as part of the USA TODAY NETWORK. Support Democracy and subscribe to a newspaper.