Project: The Banyan Hotel Fort Myers, Tapestry Collection by Hilton
Location: The Fort Myers River District
Cost: $3.5 million
Size: Nine-story hotel, about 50,000 square feet
Builder: Firmo Construction
Architect: Z-Space Design
Project details: Firmo Construction was hired to transform the Hotel Indigo property in downtown Fort Myers into The Banyan Hotel Fort Myers, which will be part of Hilton’s upscale Tapestry Collection brand. The Sarasota-based design-build firm has worked with both the Hilton brand and HOS Management Co. (which manages the hotel) on other projects.
“This is an opportunity for them to reposition the hotel with a new Hilton brand that is a more luxury brand than Hotel Indigo was,” says Eric Collin, president/owner of Firmo Construction. “But it’s going to have very much of a local flavor. Tapestry Collection hotels are all very different. There’s a commonality in standards and level of service, but they all are typically in downtown, urban locations and are all unique.”
The top-to-bottom, flagship conversion of the nine-story hotel includes a full renovation of the hotel’s rooftop pool area and a total redo of the 72 guestrooms, which includes new furniture, artwork and bedding and new high-speed internet and smart devices in the rooms. On the ground level, there will be a new commercial kitchen and a totally redone lobby with a new reception area, restaurant and bar. Firmo is about halfway done with the conversion and expects to complete the project at the beginning of 2022.
Collin hopes this experience opens up new types of hospitality work for the company, which has built multiple limited-service hotel properties, including ones under flags for Hampton Inn and Residence Inn. “This is a luxury product, so that is very exciting for us,” he says. “This is the beginning of putting our foot in the door of this type of project, which is something we’re trying to grow as the natural continuation of our history in hospitality.
Cool factor: The lobby area of the hotel will be transformed from what Collin describes as “dark and dated” and “very dull and boring” into a light and bright space with sleek, modern furnishings. The entry area will draw inspiration from the hotel’s new Banyan name and feature elements like custom millwork, a laser-cut wood ceiling and brass accents.
“It’s just going to be completely different,” he says. “We have materials coming from all over the world, a lot of custom wood pieces and millwork and tiles and wall panels coming from Italy and Spain. It’s going to be a unique restaurant and lobby space when we’re done.”
In the guestrooms, the completely redesigned bathrooms will also feature high-end, European tile finishes plus floor-to-ceiling glass partitions. On the rooftop, visitors will find all new furniture and a new layout so that the rooftop bar’s sitting area has better views of the Caloosahatchee River.
Collin looks forward to the reaction from past hotel guests to the transformation. “For people who have stayed at the property before, it’s going to be so radically different, the whole feel and whole experience,” he says. “I don’t think they will recognize the place.”
Challenges: Given worldwide supply chain and shipping issues, it’s not surprising to hear some of those unique materials aren’t arriving in the timeframe previously expected. “It doesn’t matter how early you order some pieces, they just keep getting delayed,” says Collin. “So we’re having to juggle all of that...We kind of have to work our schedule around the arrival and availability of materials, and that’s not necessarily how we would do it normally.”
The hotel’s historic Fort Myers River District location is another challenge. “Where it is located in the downtown, you have zero room for staging,” says Collin. “You cannot put a dumpster on site. There is absolutely zero room for staging or parking on site. Just washing the windows is an extremely big challenge on that building, let alone trying to do a conversion.”
To deal with that, materials are delivered to a site three blocks away, and things get brought to the hotel in small loads via small trucks. The same goes for construction waste, which is brought little by little to the off-site location. “Obviously, that takes a lot more time and a lot more effort to do,” says Collin.
The hotel also remained open while work is ongoing, so Firmo has been renovating it two floors at a time. “It’s not like we can go ahead and just shut down the place and make as much mess and noise as you can,” says Collin. “We’ve got to work around very limited hours to be able to not disturb the guests, so we try to do most of our work in a few hours during the day when the guests are away.”
The Cool Construction issue is, like it sounds, a deep dive into the more unique projects being built in the region — in what’s obviously an unusual time. Read about more of the coolest by clicking the links below: