FORT MYERS -- A growing demand for nature-based tourism experiences
and more meeting space is spurring development in this area,
according to Elaine McLaughlin, executive director of the Lee
Island Coast Visitors and Convention Bureau.
"We are finding more and more Americans are interested in having a
tropical island experience and a connection with nature," she said.
"Our hotel expansion is growing to meet the needs of the
marketplace, some of which [requires the] expansion of meeting
space and [in other cases the creation of] new meeting space," she
A 100-room lakeside hotel at the entrance to Bonita Bay, Trianon
Bonita Bay, opened in February. It has two meeting rooms for groups
of up to 60. Rates, including breakfast, are from $150 to $220.
Meanwhile, southern Lee County is growing with golf- and
A 450-room Hyatt Regency in Bonita Springs should break ground
by this summer, McLaughlin said. Hyatt Equities purchased 27 acres
along Estero Bay to build the 17-story resort that will have two
restaurants, a 10,200-square-foot spa and nearly 30,000 square feet
of conference space. An 18-hole championship golf course will open
with the resort, late in 2001.
The 320-room Sanibel Harbour Resort & Spa in Fort Myers
Beach will add 23,000 square feet of meeting space in October. A
skyway will link the new space, which is all on one floor, to the
existing 22,000-square-foot meetings facility. The new area will
overlook the shores of San Carlos Bay and offer vistas of Sanibel
and Captiva islands. The hotel's winter rates range from $275 to
The Admiral Lehigh Golf Resort, Lehigh Acres, added a spa and
fitness center. The latter offers cardiovascular equipment and
training, weights and aerobic classes, men's and women's steam
baths, a redwood sauna room and a tanning salon.
Hotels opening late last year included a 104-room Fairfield Inn
by Marriott in Fort Myers, which has a heated pool and spa, and the
12-story, 124-unit, DiamondHead All Suite Beach Resort, Fort Myers
Beach, which has 6,000-square-feet of meeting space for groups of
as many as 200. The resort is operated by Sunstream Hotels &
In other news:Babcock Wilderness Adventures, which focuses on wildlife in
natural surroundings as seen from swamp buggies, has added off-road
Bikers learn about Florida ecosystems and are accompanied by
trained naturalists. Rates start at $35 per rider ages 15 and older
for three hours; $30 for those 10 to 14.Upgrades at the Manatee Park east of Fort Myers include a
66-seat amphitheater, the addition of canopies over three
observation decks, more sidewalks and expanded parking.
More than 90,000 visitors per year here get close-up education
on the endangered West Indian Manatees.
Trianon, Bonita Bay, Phone: (941) 948-4400
Sanibel Harbour Resort, Phone: (941) 466-2169
Admiral Lehigh Golf Resort, Phone: (941) 369-2121
Fairfield Inn by Marriott, Phone: (941) 437-5600
DiamondHead All Suite Beach Resort, Phone: (941) 765-7654
Babcock Wilderness Adventures, Phone: (800) 500-5583
Manatee Park, Phone: (941) 694-3537