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First-of-its-kind resort price tag rises to $585 million

Long anticipated Allegiant resort now booking for next year.

  • By Louis Llovio
  • | 7:23 p.m. February 18, 2022
  • | 2 Free Articles Remaining!
Sunseeker Resort Charlotte Harbor’s views include an overlook of Peace River. (Photo by Mark Gordon)
Sunseeker Resort Charlotte Harbor’s views include an overlook of Peace River. (Photo by Mark Gordon)
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If you build it, they will come. That movie line, as classic and overused as it might be, has pretty much summed up the driving principle behind Allegiant Travel’s years-long quest to build and open the Sunseeker Resort Charlotte Harbor in Charlotte County.

Now, after five years and a global pandemic, the world is about to find out if the airlines’ real-life work turns out as well and dreamlike as it did in the movie.

John Redmond, Allegiant’s president and CEO come June 1, put it this way when he visited the site last August: “We’ve been working day and night on this and you haven’t seen anything until you have seen this project.”

When it opens, the resort will have 785 rooms as well as 19 restaurants and bars, two pools, spa and salon, 117,000-square-foot “ground level experience,” adults-only rooftop retreat, 60,000 square feet of meeting space, a harbor walk and an 18-hole golf course.

Included in the room mix will be 189 luxury one- to three-bedroom suites that will range in size from 875 square feet to 1,700 square feet and come with chef-level kitchens, private balconies and separate check-in, services and private lounges. The company calls this hotel-within-a-hotel concept Sunsuites.

According to Allegiant’s annual report released Feb. 2, the total amount spent on the project as of Dec. 31 is $211 million, with $23 million of that being debt and $188 million paid for by the company. The entire project, according to the annual report, is expected to cost as much as $585 million, up from an original price tag of $510 million. Of that, 60% to 63% is expected to come from financing.

The company, in a presentation, forecasts 85% annual occupancy.

COURTESY — Sunseeker Resort Charlotte Harbor begins taking reservations for May 2023.
COURTESY — Sunseeker Resort Charlotte Harbor begins taking reservations for May 2023.

According to Allegiant, a low-cost airline pioneer, the company is employing about 800 construction workers for the project. About1,150 people will work at the resort when it opens.

Sunseeker dates back to early 2017, when airline officials scouted sites in Punta Gorda. The fishing village, population about 18,000, is within a two-hour driving distance of four airports that shuttle millions of passengers a year into the Sunshine State from points Northeast and Midwest. That was the initial driver for Sunseeker.   

Allegiant paid around $35 million for the 24-acre site for Sunseeker in 2017.

Allegiant passenger tallies from airports in those areas — Fort Myers, Punta Gorda, Sarasota-Bradenton and St. Pete-Clearwater — have only exploded since then. The airline was expected to surpass two million passengers in and out of Punta Gorda alone in 2022, Redmond said in 2021. And its biggest airports in terms of passengers coming out of the pandemic were Southwest Florida International in Fort Myers and Sarasota-Bradenton International.

Redmond, during his 2021 visit, called the airport traffic data validation for “why we did the resort here in the first place.”

By March 2020, construction was about one-third done with phase one.

Then the pandemic hit and the work stopped.

The decision to postpone — not cancel or sell — Sunseeker and wait out the pandemic was made after substantial deliberations among the executive team. One key toward persevering, officials said, despite the carrying costs, was the value of the project would be hindered if it sold it unfinished.

Persevering included maintaining six cranes towering over the project, humongous hoists that stood motionless for 17 months. Asked at a 2021 press event how he could do that, Redmond said, “You can keep them if you write a big check every month. I won’t tell you how much it is, but it’s ugly times six.”

Construction restarted in the fall of 2021 and, if all goes as planned, the first guests will begin arriving right before summer in 2023.


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