Women in Business Awards now accepting nominations >> NOMINATE NOW

Naples Airport

A recent renovation at the Naples Airport improves the experience for pilots, travelers and staff while giving visitors a coastal-contemporary first impression that draws from Naples’ attractions.

The $8 million General Aviation Terminal renovation, designed by Orlando-based SchenkelShultz Architecture and constructed by Owen-Ames-Kimball Co.’s Fort Myers team, began in May 2021 and was completed this May after pandemic-related supply delays.

“The feedback from passengers and pilots has been very positive,” says Naples Airport Authority Community Outreach and Communications Manager Zachary Burch, noting that most customers are frequent flyer residents, and it hadn’t been redesigned since 1991. “It’s something people can be proud of.”

NAA revenues—fuel sales, land rentals and hangar fees—paid for the renovation, which features an upgraded lobby, expanded passenger lounge, a marketplace offering food and drinks, BOS Tampa furniture, new exterior canopies, upgraded office space and pilots’ lounges.

The tired yellow exterior was replaced with crisp white, highlighted by sea-blue Bahama shutters and wave-like white canopies that provide shade at entryways and over an outdoor, contemporary white-and-teal seating area.

“It’s reflective of the ocean and the coast,” Burch says of the cooling canopies. “The main one is in the style of the Naples Pier. It’s reflective of the style and quality of this community. This is the first impression people see as they come in.”

A terrazzo floor with a tropical palm pattern pays homage to a majestic palm that once stood in the lobby, he explained, while white walls provide an airy feeling and highlight a dark wood shiplap ceiling. 

Behind a marble reception desk, two living walls created by Cincinnati-based Urban Blooms naturally filter air and provide a burst of color. They flank a shimmering glass water feature that’s highlighted by six delicate laser-cut wood pendant lamps above. 

“Once we get these walls tuned in, they can live for decades,” says Urban Blooms President Tyler Wolf. “They wanted something impactful that was going to wow customers and be bold. The plants will become very dramatic as they grow and have a waterfall effect.”

The walls, including a third in an outdoor lounge, were custom-built onsite in phases and took about 10 days after initial planning, Wolf said, noting that he can incorporate signage, TVs or create artistic murals “painted” with plants. For the outdoor living wall, he chose plants native to Florida, including bromeliads and orchids. 

Artwork that decorates the terminal and administration area was bid out, a competition won by Alexis Martinez Puleio, a Naples artist known for her acrylic and epoxy resin aerial-seascape paintings. Her large seascape, a focus of the lobby, provides a bird’s-eye view of azure water lapping at white sands.

“We wanted something that reflected the coastal style of this community,” Burch says.

In one lounge, rows of hard chairs were replaced by inviting, cream-colored couches and denim-blue contemporary chairs, where travelers can watch a large-screen TV. A rug with sea green, pale green and white evokes ocean waves. Behind the couch, a high-top counter and Scandinavian-style chairs allow travelers to work or watch planes. Nature photos are sprinkled throughout the terminal.

On the marketplace walls and ceiling, gray and white shiplap panels provide a coastal feel. Instead of two vending machines, travelers can now purchase snacks, sandwiches and beverages through an honor system, charge their electronics and sit in contemporary seating areas featuring blues and driftwood gray. 

Behind the scenes, employee and pilot areas were redesigned. A row of refrigerators allows caterers to deliver food for flights, and a large bar-height counter facing a panoramic window lets employees monitor the tarmac. “Staff is now facing out and can see outside and react,” Director of Development Kerry Keith explains.

The pilot area and lounge features massage chairs they can nap on in two quiet rooms. Charging stations allow pilots to charge tablets containing flight plans. A flight-planning room provides computers and monitors so pilots can check flight information, weather and even emails. If they’re thirsty, flavored seltzer water, coffee, hot chocolate, espresso and hot water for tea are provided.

“There were significant changes to the back to make it a better, more logical work environment for staff,” says Burch. “There was wasted space all over. Now, it’s more work collaborative and efficient.”

About 25% of traffic was moved to the North Road Terminal, freeing up space for staff and travelers and making it safer on the tarmac because staff doesn’t have to tow planes there anymore.

Despite the changes, one tradition remains untouched: York Peppermint Patties. As Burch says, “People who fly here expect them.”  

Copyright 2022 Gulfshore Life Media, LLC All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without prior written consent.