Allegiant Travel Co.’s Sunseeker Resort suffered $35 million in damages from Hurricane Ian. The $618 million project on Charlotte Harbor in Port Charlotte pushed its opening date to October, Sunseeker Resorts Chief Operating Officer Micah Richins said during a presentation to Charlotte County commissioners Tuesday.
“We had cranes that collapsed. We had scaffolding that collapsed. We had just finished transplanting and planting more than 600 trees at the golf course when the hurricane came through and virtually every one of them were laying on the ground when it was over,” Richins said. All repairs were completed or will be within the next 35 to 40 days.
The project is expected to bring newfound attention to the area and its harbor.
Sunseeker already has 35,000 nights booked for October, Richins said.
To keep up with 785 rooms, two pool options and 20 food and beverage concepts, Sunseeker is expecting to hire 1,300 people. Of the 1,300, 66 employees are already on staff, with most of the hiring anticipated to happen in the second quarter of this year.
“We expect to be the employer of choice,” Richins said. “So, you’ll have highly competitive market wages, but in addition to that, you’ll have health benefits and not just marginal health benefits. People who are full time at this property will have health benefits that are equal to the health benefits that I have.”
In addition, all resort employees will be provided with free flights to anywhere Allegiant flies.
Commissioner Stephen Deutsch applauded the benefits offered, but questioned how Sunseeker will find employees to make the resort function at such a high level. Richins said in addition to livable wages, health and flying benefits, the critical mass of the resort will draw workers in.
“If you are a food and beverage server, you make a lot of your money in gratuity,” Richins said. So, what you’re really interested in is where people are going to be and where they’re going to be spending their money.”
Most employees are expected to live within a 50-mile radius of the resort, with many relocating to the area to do so.
All experiences offered at the resort will be open to the public, except for golf and the pools. Golf will be available to those staying in the resort and to members of Kingsway Country Club when Allegiant purchased it.
Pools will also only be available to guests, with the exception of the Level Blue rooftop pool during events open to the public.
“We’ve built so much food and beverage [options] because we want the locals to come,” Richins said. “We want people to come and enjoy the promenade, the food and beverage and the retail.”
Commissioner Christopher Constance appreciated the synergy between Sunseeker and businesses in Punta Gorda such as Fishermen’s Village.
“I have heard nothing but good things from property owners in Punta Gorda and the commercial businesses are really looking forward to this,” Constance said. “They know that you’ve really put us on the map and that those folks will want to have various experiences.”