Collier County’s Great Wolf Lodge placed a milestone building piece Wednesday on the $250 million resort and indoor water park during a topping-off ceremony. The East Naples resort is projected to generate $5 billion in spending in the region and $150 million in tax revenue for the county over 30 years following its expected Oct. 1, 2024, opening.
Suffolk Construction has installed 1,200 tons of steel during 200,000 hours of labor by hundreds of workers and is on track for an on-time project completion.
“This opportunity means an incredible amount as far as all the dedication, hard work and time that the ladies and gentlemen who have participated in the actual physical constructions project have achieved,” Suffolk Chief Operating Officer Ben Wilson said. “I mean, frankly, we could not be prouder.”
This achievement, reached only one year after the groundbreaking in July 2022, signalizes the shift in focus to the interior of what Florida’s first Great Wolf Lodge location will have to offer. Steven Jacobsen, vice president of domestic development at Great Wolf Lodge, said the East Naples location will have some unique components.
“You’ll see here, as we develop, they’ll be a lot of new bells and whistles that aren’t in our other lodges,” Jacobsen said. “So, you guys here will be the first ones to be able to enjoy those additional embellishments.”
The 20-acre property sits between Paradise Coast Sports Complex and the Uline distribution center in eastern Collier County. This Great Wolf Lodge resort will offer a 90,000-square-foot waterpark with 500 suites, along with a 60,000-square-foot family entertainment center that includes a ropes course, mini-golf and an arcade.
Jacobsen said the company will take advantage of being right next to the sports complex and plans to commit $200,000 in matching funds with Paradise Coast to promote collaboration.
“Maybe we can offer packages for the teams that come, so that they can come here when they’re not playing.” Jacobsen said.
Collier County Commissioner Rick LoCastro was pleased to hear about the sports facility partnership.
“We didn’t build that beautiful facility next door to just sit and go unused,” LoCastro said. “What a travesty it would be if we didn’t have a good cohesive partnership between these two amazing entities. And we’re going to have that.”
The resort is anticipated to bring 600 jobs to the area. Great Wolf Lodge pledged a total of $500,000 over 10 years to invest in bringing new people to the Southwest Florida market and training local professionals wanting to break into the hospitality industry.
Jacobsen said he isn’t worried about the recent slight downturn in local tourism compared to previous years. He said local retirees with visiting grandchildren will be a reliable demographic for the resort.
In 2021, the county commissioners voted to provide Great Wolf Lodge with a $15 million taxpayer-funded incentive toward building the resort. Although LoCastro was the lone vote against the funding, he expressed his support for the project Wednesday along with gratitude for the workers who are bringing the resort to life.
“We’ve built a lot of things in Collier County, we see a lot of things built in Collier County. We can already tell that this is going to be a five-star location, a five-star building, a five-star tourist attraction, adding to what we already have here in Collier County,” LoCastro said. “So those of you that have been out in the heat, doing what you do every single day, it has not gone unnoticed or unappreciated.”