Eight months after Hurricane Ian, most beaches and hotels are open in Fort Myers

Nearly 70% of hotel rooms in Fort Myers, located on Florida’s west coast, have reopened after Hurricane Ian made landfall as a Category 4 storm, eight months ago.

Speaking at the IPW conference in late May, representatives from Fort Myers — Islands, Beaches and Neighborhoods stated that approximately 10,000 rooms have been reopened.

Miriam Dotson, the communications manager, stated, “The figure of 10,000 is an ever-growing number. Each day witnesses the reopening of numerous businesses, and there is a continuous influx of new businesses eager to establish their presence in the area.”

“And just to clarify, a large majority of our beaches are currently accessible,” she stated.

This summer, three hotels on Fort Myers Beach are set to resume operations: Gullwing Beach Resort, which has partially reopened, will welcome all guests again on June 30; Hampton Inn & Suites is now accepting reservations for stays beginning on June 13; and Lovers Key Resort is currently taking reservations for arrivals in August. They experienced some of the most severe destruction caused by the hurricane.

Ian made a forceful landfall on September 28th, impacting Fort Myers Beach, Sanibel, and Captiva the most, causing the closure or destruction of numerous roads and bridges. The South Seas Island Resort, Sundial Beach Resort and Spa, and the Neptune Resort are some of the prominent establishments that remain shut.

In the upcoming month, two additional sections of Fort Myers Beach, specifically Bowditch Point Park and Crescent Beach Family Park, are set to be unveiled. Currently, there are already a minimum of 13 beaches accessible in the Fort Myers, Sanibel, and Captiva vicinity.

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Visit Florida CEO Dana Young commented on the area’s progress, expressing, “We’re making progress.” However, she acknowledged that it would still require some time. Young stated, “Fort Myers Beach needs to undergo reconstruction.” Furthermore, she mentioned, “Although it is geographically compact, witnessing the devastation is truly distressing.”

Two more parts of Fort Myers Beach are expected to open this month, including Bowditch Point Park.

Fort Myers Beach is planning to open additional sections of Bowditch Point Park this month. Photo Credit: Fort Myers — Islands, Beaches and Neighborhoods.

Young stated that a number of the establishments capable of opening at a faster rate were the more recent ones.

“She mentioned, ‘The introduction of new buildings has a significant impact. That’s why many of the properties that were constructed more recently following the strict coastal construction regulations managed to endure [the storm]. Certain older properties, however, were simply unable to.'”

The Paradise Coast, encompassing Naples and Marco Island, further south, played a crucial role in minimizing significant destruction suffered by the Fort Myers region.

“About 90% of hotel rooms were open by December,” stated Paul Beirnes, the executive director of the Naples, Marco Island and Everglades Convention and Visitors Bureau, indicating a decrease from the previous figure of approximately 98%.”

The Ritz-Carlton Naples, which recently underwent a significant renovation when Ian struck, was one of the properties that suffered the most damage. It is scheduled to reopen on July 6th.

Beirnes expressed, “We were extremely fortunate, truly blessed.” Beirnes remarked, “When you explore the entire destination, without exception, it is nearly impossible to identify any visible traces of the storm. I’m delighted to announce that at this moment.”

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Beirnes also expressed his excitement, stating that a consumer survey showed that about 80% of those surveyed believed that running in January and returning to their destination was a high readiness area, demonstrating the public’s positive perception.

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