Pink Shell prepares to house construction workers on the beach in Fort Myers –

The Pink Shell Beach Resort has been a Fort Myers Beach icon since 1950. It will continue to be, promised owner Robert Boykin, who has been part of two ownership groups at the 195-room resort for 24 years.

Over the next two years, Pink Shell will be able to provide housing for construction and reconstruction workers on Estero Island, Boykin said. He does not expect the property at 275 Estero Blvd. looks like a “complex” before 2024.

This week the property still has no electricity or water, but efforts are being made to hopefully restore them so they can accommodate people by November 1st.

“Of course, we’re not in the resort business right now,” Boykin said. “We are in the housing business, of course. Our role is now changing to become a company that helps recover the island. If you look historically at how hotels came into existence in this country, there is a long history of the government helping to develop accommodation. We sell something that everyone needs, which is sleep. We are at the beginning of our foundations, so to speak.

“I think we will be in this mode for a while. As I’m guessing, I’m not considering a resort season until 24.”

The Pink Shell lobby sits 22 feet above sea level. It received flooding from storm surge, which surprised Boykin. In 1998 Boykin was the CEO of a public company called Boykin Lodging, which purchased the hotel from a company called Mariner. In 2006, Boykin sold his business but bought the Pink Shell with his brother under the business name JABO, which stands for “Jack and Bob” Boykin.

Over the years, the brothers have invested $70 million in building the Pink Shell as it appeared on September 27, the day before Hurricane Ian, which destroyed many older structures on the island, including everything on the ground floor of the Pink Shell property. But the main station survived.

“We took a lot of damage,” Boykin said. “To give you an example, we had a state-of-the-art marina. When we built it, we built pilings with extra height to support between a Category 1 and Category 3 hurricane. But this one was something we had never seen. I would have bet you a lot of money that we would never see water in our lobby. But we did. It’s been there. We will rebuild and come back.

A day after Ian’s shot, Pink Shell had a disaster relief company on the property. Since then, travel has been slowed due to a flood of workers, visitors and residents returning to Estero Island.

About 100 of the station’s 250 employees participated in cleanup efforts, Boykin said. They did so after completing three hours of safety training. The station is trying to help the remaining employees find other places to work.

“We’re working through this process now,” Boykin said. “Some people have lost their homes and their cars and they have lost everything. We help these people. We did a GoFundMe.
It is easier to collect money than to distribute it. But this is happening as I speak.

“We contacted our industry associates. People we know who have hotels in other parts of the state. There has been a labor shortage lately. Some people take the opportunity to go elsewhere. It works for many people.

The rebuilding process means bringing experts in their respective fields to the site safely, he said.

“We tried to get into the rhythm of how the island is open now,” Boykin said. “We are also blessed because we have a team of dedicated people. We have 100 employees who are on site every day to help clean up. Cleaning is difficult because we haven’t turned on the water yet.

“We’re lucky, I guess, to have more modern buildings. They are designed to weather these storms. Structurally, it’s fine. We have a lot of reconstruction to do, but it will be fine. We are going through the process of obtaining a temporary occupancy certificate.

Rae’s Italian restaurant, named after her granddaughter, as well as Bob’s Beach Bar and Love Shack were both destroyed.

“It was in the parking lot,” Boykin said of his eponymous bar. “He is now somewhere on the other side of the upside-down rear bay. We spotted him yesterday. There will be another Bob’s. But it’s on the road. As we bring the resort back, there’s no rush to work on the pool, if you will. We have the time. What the island really needs are basic services. That’s what we strive for. »

Pink Shell Beach Resort after Hurricane Ian

Jack’s, a breakfast restaurant, remains intact, which will help the Pink Shell serve these construction workers when they reopen.

“When you get into the season, we might do 600 to 650 breakfasts a day,” Boykin said of a restaurant that seats 120 to 140 people. “That would fill out the thing for volume. What we’re going to do is have breakfast. Our plan is to do packed lunches. The people who are going to stay with us will go wherever on the island they need to go. Dinner will be buffet style.

There really is no blueprint for how Pink Shell will change its business model over the next two years, he said.

“This is my seventh hurricane,” Boykin said. “None of them have ever compared to this one. That’s the difference. It’s unbelievable the devastation of this barrier island.

“Like everyone else, we saw the storm coming and thought it was heading towards Tampa. And of course it wasn’t. But our team is pretty good. The resort was running really strong. We had worked really hard over the last six or seven years to build a good culture and a high-level business model. I think it’s paying off for us now. We’re efficient. People have good protocols. of communication. It’s a team of A players.”

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