The 785-room Sunseeker Resort Charlotte Harbor is nearing the end of construction, with the last of six cranes on-site scheduled to be removed July 10.
Guest reservations are being accepted for stays beginning Oct. 16.
Pete Tuffo, president of the Gulf Coast region for Suffolk Construction and president of the company’s national gaming and hospitality division, said about 800 construction workers have been on-site, at least six days a week, for most of the duration of the project. That includes now, as construction heads toward the finish line.
Sunseeker broke ground in March 2019, and construction paused in March 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic began before resuming in August 2021.
Hurricane Ian hit Sept. 28, 2022, setting the project back another six months, Tuffo said.
Although the finished buildings have been designed to withstand a Category 5 hurricane, the unfinished buildings were not. Suffolk had to evaluate and overcome the damage brought on by the storm.
“It’s a pretty complex project, all in all, just with the logistics,” Tuffo said. “Our industry took on a series of challenges. We started building it before COVID, and then the job was paused during COVID. So, there was the ramp down, which was a challenge. And then the job was going to start back up.
“Now you’re running into material escalations, which was a test. Manpower shortages that were a challenge. So, this project has had a series of challenges. I will tell you, the ownership group and the trade partners and Suffolk have all worked together collaboratively to overcome all of them.”
Suffolk poured 69,000 cubic yards of concrete, enough to fill about 5,000 dump trucks.
The buildings measure a combined 1.4 million square feet, with 60,000 square feet of convention space. There are 20 restaurants on-site. Driving from end to end, it measures about half a mile and is all packed between the harbor and U.S. 41.
“Logistics, if you go outward, if you go to the west, you’re in the water,” Tuffo said. “If you go to the east, you’re on 41. It’s like a postage stamp of a site. Logistically, it’s challenging, getting the workers here, getting the materials here, without impacting the traffic.”
Tuffo and his team are no strangers to building gargantuan hotels. Suffolk also built the Hard Rock Hotel across the state in Hollywood.
“It’s an amazing team,” said Jeff Keller, the general superintendent who has worked on both projects, including Sunseeker over the past four months. “It’s just been a resilient group.”
The Sunseeker Resort has what it is billing as the largest rooftop pool in Florida. Built 127 feet up, it will be filled with 127,000 gallons of water.
The resort is spread across 22 acres.
“I’ve been in Southwest Florida for 24 years,” Tuffo said, “and I’ve never been a part of a project of this magnitude, of this size.”