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Business Observer Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2022 1 month ago

Historic resort laying off 238 employees

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Famed South Seas Island Resort closed “for foreseeable future” after taking hit from Hurricane Ian.
by: Louis Llovio Commercial Real Estate Editor

South Seas Island Resort on Captiva Island is laying off 238 workers after being forced to close because of damage caused by Hurricane Ian.

The resort announced the layoffs to the state Tuesday morning, Oct. 18.

In a letter posted on Florida’s WARN database, the resort says it “was severely impacted by the devastation caused by Hurricane Ian, resulting in the cessation of resort operations for the foreseeable future.” As a result, the resort will “temporarily reduce the number of employees.”

Federal law requires companies to provide states with Worker Adjustment Retraining and Notification notices when making job cuts.

The positions being cut range from people working in the front office to security to event management. The layoffs began Oct. 10 and will continue until Oct. 23.

The resort has created an employee relief fund that can be accessed on its website.

South Seas, a Florida tourist destination since 1946, takes up about a third of the northern tip of Captiva Island. The property includes hotels, condominiums and homes and sits on 2.5 miles of beaches and counts golf, waterfront dining, shopping and a full-service spa among its offerings

While long a beacon to tourists, the resort was directly in the path of Ian as it blew through Florida late last month, devastating much of the Gulf Coast in Southwest Florida.

According to a note on South Seas’ website Oct. 18, officials are still assessing the damage and say the resort will remain closed until further notice.

This is by no means the first time the resort’s fate has been affected by a hurricane.

According to The Sanibel Capitva Guide’s history of the resort, Nebraska-born banker Clarence Chadwick established a key lime plantation in 1923, buying property from William Langley “Tobe” Bryan and George Washington Carter. The two men were homesteaders on Captiva, moving onto the island in the late 1890s.

The property was sold to Chadwick two years after a devastating hurricane hit the island.

Chadwick moved to Fort Myers in 1942, leaving the property to family members who were the first to rent to people vacationing in Florida.

The property went through several ownership groups over the decades. The most recent owner was The Blackstone Group, which bought the property in 2006, two years after another hurricane, Hurricane Charley.

Just last year, Blackstone sold the resort to a group of companies that said in a statement when the purchase was announced that the plan was “to elevate the guest experience with expanded services and amenities while working on future plans to reimagine and restore the famed South Seas Island Resort to its original grandeur.”

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