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Business Observer Friday, Nov. 29, 2019 1 week ago

Luxury hotelier invests $5M to fend off competitors

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Targeting luxury customers — particularly in an ultra high-end town — requires a stay-ahead-of-the pack mindset. It can be costly, too.
by: Jay Schlichter Lee-Collier Editor

Twenty-three years ago, Phil McCabe had a vision. 

The Vietnam veteran, ex-CIA agent and former Maine businessman took a risk by purchasing the land where an old bank building sat for $1 million in what was then a struggling commercial district on Fifth Avenue South in downtown Naples. His dream? Turn the property into a bustling, luxurious hotel.

His hopes came true, with The Inn on Fifth. The hotel would earn McCabe a top spot among other entrepreneurs who envisioned and created what Naples could and did become.

Today, the 72-year-old has once again invested a large chunk of money — $5 million — into renovating the high-end hotel.

“I’m not sitting here waiting to improve my property.' Phil McCabe

But this time, he did it for a completely different reason. McCabe knows the luxury resort industry in Southwest Florida is tough to compete in, with both Naples and the surrounding area becoming more well known every day for having plenty of lodging spots with fancy amenities and accommodations. Some of his nearby competitors include the Bellasera Resort, Naples Bay Resort, Naples Grande Beach Resort, Hilton Naples and The Ritz-Carlton, Naples.

That's why McCabe wanted to add features to his hotel that would help it stand out from the rest — even in the high end. 

“I’m not sitting here waiting to improve my property,” McCabe says, adding he has seen other area properties make big plans, specifically mentioning the Athens Group, which is proposing to demolish the Naples Beach Hotel and Golf Club and build a smaller resort and condo development along Gulf Shore Boulevard in its place.

To block other 4-star and 5-star hotels to from taking clientele away from The Inn on Fifth, McCabe sought to enhance the hotel’s “elegance, design and quality” to entice discerning customers.

Courtesy. The Inn on FIfth in Naples is one of the region's top hotels.

Some of the new features include refinements to the hotel’s rooftop pool courtyard and additions to all 119 guest rooms, such as Swiss porcelain tile flooring, custom Brazilian mercury quartzite bathroom vanities and contemporary lighting. The hotel was closed for four weeks in September to renovate the rooms and lobby, reopening Oct. 1. A few of the final touches, such as a rooftop bar and gazebo, were still being finished in mid-October.

“This renovation is just the latest chapter in a story that keeps getting better, and we will continue to rewrite the pages of this Naples classic that’s been pleasing visitors and locals for years," McCabe says in a news release about the renovations.

In addition to the renovations in the original three-story building on the north side of Fifth Avenue South, the $5 million investment also included a few special touches for the newer part of the hotel located directly across the street. Inside the 32 “Club Level” suites, for example, hardwood floors manufactured in Spain using 180-year-old hardened French oak were installed.

McCabe declined to reveal financial details or revenue/room data about the property, but he says the hotel has continued to be successful, and revenues have been increasing. However, he believes the hotel industry will see a “flattening” over the coming years —  adding a sense of urgency to the renovations. 

This isn't the first time McCabe has invested a significant amount of money in the hotel. In late 2012, the businessman spent $18 million for an expansion project to build the 40,000-square foot, three-story addition on the south side of Fifth Avenue South that houses the new 32 suites and includes 12,000 square feet of retail space on the ground floor and an executive boardroom. That year, McCabe also spent $1.7 million on another renovation project to update the design of the hotel.

Courtesy. Jack McCabe sought to enhance the hotel’s “elegance, design and quality."

McCabe, who first moved to Naples about 35 years ago and sold almost all of his Maine assets to fund his hotel projects that included The Inn of Naples and The Inn of Pelican Bay, says he isn’t planning on retiring anytime soon.

Because he owns other commercial properties in Naples and is currently overseeing a spec home project in Kennebunkport, Maine, McCabe says it would be “hard” for him to retire, even though he now has his two sons, Joseph and Philip, helping him and working out of the new offices they built adjacent to the hotel as part of the renovation project.

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