Seven months after extensive damage from Hurricane Ian forced The Ritz-Carlton Naples to close and layoff 591 employees, the hotel has announced it will reopen this summer and bring back most of those who lost their jobs.
The hotel company, in a statement that does not acknowledge the hurricane nor the damage it caused, says the renovated and expanded hotel will include the Vanderbilt Tower which will feature the Ritz-Carlton Club Lounge and more than 70 club-level guestrooms, a new lobby and three new restaurants.
It will also have a "reimagined outdoor spaces including new pools, bungalows and cabanas" along with an extensive redesign of all 474 rooms and suites, the company says in the statement.
The property will reopen July 6.
Work on the project began in 2021, long before Hurricane Ian made landfall in Southwest Florida late September causing billions in damage and killing more than 100 people. The heavy toll is still being felt across the region as thousands remain without work and localities are facing a massive rebuild.
As for the employees who lost their jobs at the Ritz-Carlton Naples, there is some good news there. The company expects 80% of hourly workers and 95% of management to return. The hotel chain will also hire about 300 employees to work at the Naples property and the nearby Naples Tiburon property.
About three weeks after the storm, the Ritz-Carlton notified the state that it would not reopen and would have to lay off employees. At the time, it expected the closing to last until early in 2023. But it did warn that given the extent of the damage, the closure could last longer.
“Experts and consultants continue to evaluate the extent of the natural disaster damage and have not yet determined when we will reopen the hotel for business,” the Oct. 13 letter sent to satisfy Worker Adjustment Retraining and Notification says. “While we are targeting the first part of 2023, the re-reopening could be extended with the rebuilding of the power grid, infrastructure and supply delays. Based on these uncertainties, the temporary layoff may last six months or longer.”
Among the upgrades to the property are: the club lounge will have a dedicated full-service bar, media room and exclusive programming; an ornate lobby bar with champagne tasting featuring 50 curated champagnes and sparkling wines designed by Elyse Lambert, a master sommelier; and three new restaurants — Sofra, a vegetable-forward restaurant. Moka which will offer a wide variety of coffees made from hand-picked beans and a concept that will be announced later this year.
“Our goal was to create an even more exceptional guest experience, and we are confident that our new additions will exceed expectations,” Mark Ferland, Ritz-Carlton’s area general manager, says in the statement.