South Seas Island Resort, which is on the northern tip of Captiva Island, has sold for $50.38 million.
The Timbers Company, Wheelock Street Capital and the Ronto Group have combined forces for the purchase of the iconic property that has been in place since 1946.
The new owners bought it from BRE/South Seas Resort Owner LLC, part of Blackstone, an investment management company.
Blackstone had purchased it in February 2006 for $23.4 million. The value has more than doubled in 15 years, from just before the Great Recession began and the real estate bubble burst.
South Seas sits on 2.5 miles of white-sand beaches. The 330-acre resort and wildlife preserve and estuary comprise about one-third of the northern tip of the 6-mile-long island.
“We see this as a phenomenal piece of real estate,” said Greg Spencer, CEO of Timbers Company, which is based in Winter Haven. He is a former Air Force logistics officer who served for five years. After the Air Force, he earned a master’s degree in real estate development at Colombia University in New York, then joined Timbers, working his way up to CEO.
“These things don’t come on the market that often,” Spencer said of South Seas. “We saw this as iconic, old-Florida charm. It’s a great opportunity to take it and enhance everything.”
The property has 434 units. They range from a hotel and guestrooms and suites, one- to three-bedroom condos, a private home, cottages to small home rentals.
All have balconies and lanais with views of the waterfront.
There are 20 swimming pools, a pool complex, beachfront golf, tennis, a full-service spa and restaurants.
Timbers develops luxury properties, including boutique resorts, hotels and private residence clubs.
Wheelock and Ronto have developed more than 700 condominium units on the west coast of Florida.
On Monday, efforts will begin to spruce up the property with painting and landscaping.
Over the next six months, the remaining workforce that has been living on the property will be relocated to off-island housing, Spencer said.
The workforce also projects to grow, he said, by about 20% from the current number of about 220 employees.
“There were 19 different groups that came in,” said South Seas general manager Shawn Farrell, who has been on the job for 11 years and will be retained. “Everybody had different ideas about what South Seas should be. When Greg came in, it just connected.”
Timbers owns 16 resorts around the world and also owns master-planned communities in the Virgin Islands, Italy, Hawaii and now Captiva.
Wheelock owns Chateau Elan Winery and Resort, just outside of Atlanta, and the 265-room, all-suite, AAA Four Diamond Hotel Contessa on the Riverwalk in San Antonio.
Ronto Group is a Naples-based real estate development company.
The new ownership group eventually will tear down and redevelop the existing workforce housing.
“There are 140 units, and a third of them have been condemned for 10 years at least,” Spencer said. “We’re providing six months of assistance for the transition to off-island housing.
“This is about the people. I wanted to come down here and meet the team. I want to make sure that this is one of the top resorts in the United States.”