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Jekyll Island Authority Development Partners Showcase
Plans for New Hotel Offerings

Hilton, Westin & Marriott are Top Contenders for Management of 200-room Full-Service Property

By Anna Ferguson Hall, The Brunswick News, Ga.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News

May 24, 2011--The Jekyll Island Authority learned Monday that its development partners are making strides toward kick-starting new hotel and retail options to join a new convention center being built on the island.

Three contractor companies hired by the authority to create two new hotels and a new beachfront village adjacent to the convention center revealed their individual plans during the Jekyll Island Authority board meeting Monday.

Jekyll Landmark Associates, the developer also responsible for the Jekyll Island Club Hotel, opened the round of presentations by showcasing its concept for a full-service hotel, as well as announcing the three hotel chains in the running to operate it.

Major hotel chains Hilton, Westin and Marriott are the top contenders to manage the hotel, said David Buffam, chief executive of New Castle, which operates Jekyll Landmark Associates.

David Curtis, a developer with Jekyll Landmark Associates, said he can't yet make the call on which hotel will stamp its name on the Georgia coastal resort, but if he "were a betting man, I'd say that Hilton is out in the running first, Weston is closing in fast and Marriott is out in the field."

Buffman said all three are working with Jekyll Landmark to find a way to make the partnership a reality. When that happens, it could be a monumental occurrence. The island's 200 room, full-service hotel will likely be the first in the nation to be constructed from the ground up in more than two years, Curtis said.

An operator for a second new hotel has been selected, with construction possibly to begin in August and completed by next summer. Hyatt Place will operate a limited-service hotel, said Larry Thomas, project manager for Phelps Developers, which is overseeing the second hotel site.

Terms and financing for Hyatt Place were finalized Friday, Thomas said. "We understand we are being very aggressive with our start date," he said. "But we also understand the needs of Jekyll."

The Hyatt Place hotel will offer rooms with one king or two twin beds, plus a pull-out couch. Altogether, the hotel will supply the island with about 330 rooms, Thomas said.

Winding Road developers and architecture firm Helman Hurley Charvat Peacock, or HHCP, presented their model and design for the retail and restaurant portion of the beachfront plan. The center will be broken into three retail sections, with a total of 164,125 square feet in the project.

There will be 63 upper-level residence lofts as well as more than 46,000 square feet of merchant space. Although no contracts have been signed with merchants, HHCP and Winding Road Property representatives said they plan for the retail area to include both small and large restaurants, clothing stores, and retailers associated with convention center needs, such as copiers and office supply companies, said Mike Chatham, vice president of HHCP.

Creating activity zones, offering views of the ocean and maximizing outdoor space were also key to mapping the authority's vision for the village, and his team worked hard to do as much, Chatham said.

Both the hotel developers and the village developers noted that each design was done with an industry standard LEED, short for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, certification in mind.

Limiting lighting near beaches, using recycled materials, planting only native vegetation and other environmental concerns were top priorities for each project, Thomas, Chatham and Buffam all said.

After seeing the three partners reveal their blueprints and designs for the new island centerpiece, Jekyll Island Authority Executive Director Jones Hooks said he was thrilled with the concepts. It's apparent, he said, that the developers listened to the authority and board when mapping out the future of the village, and had great plans to get under way.

"I am extremely excited about these plans and what I saw," Hooks said. "For Jekyll and all of Glynn County, this project is going to be an asset. I can't wait to move forward to the next step."


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Copyright (c) 2011, The Brunswick News, Ga.

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