Whittall seeks Fourth of July opening for Longboat St. Regis


Editor & Publisher

Watching the St. Regis rise on Longboat Key beside the Gulf of Mexico over the past two years is like a symphony growing in both intensity and scale.
It is monumental. It feels as if one is entering a place removed from ordinary life even in its unfinished form — still covered in construction dust and with 700 Moss construction workers swarming.
Unicorp President and the inimitable personage behind every aspect of the resort and condominium project, Chuck Whittall, spoke with Longboat Key News last Friday to give an update.

Summer completion…
The good news for Whittall and future owners of the 69 condos is the push is for a certificate of occupancy by June. 6 and for the entire property — including the 169 St. Regis hotel rooms — to open by July 3.
Whittall’s enthusiasm is apparent. He spent a decade battling with former Colony unit owners, the ex-Colony President Murf Klauber and his interests and the Town of Longboat Key all to arrive at this summer of fruition.
A walk into the hotel lobby goes beyond the usual superlatives of travel and real estate brochures. A grand piano will play jazz, hand painted murals and elegance straight out of Gatsby is apparent as tile saws power through marble.
The focus on view and light and marriage of materials whisk you away into another world. The cost to be whisked starts at about $1,100 per night and $25,000 for the Presidential Suite.
When asked how the market has responded to the hotel, Whittall was happy to point out that November is almost completely sold out and nine weddings are booked for the ballroom in the Fall.
“St. Regis said it is the nicest luxury resort in their brand,” Whittall said.

Public access…
The past two years brought a strong market response for the condos, with a penthouse selling for $25 million. The lowest price paid for a unit was $2.2 million.
The residences and the resort are connected through amenities and a series of pools, fountains, an aquatic tank, lazy river and of course restaurants and bars.
C.W Prime steakhouse is one of the restaurants on the property with a balcony looking out on the Gulf of Mexico.
Whittall explained that owners of condominiums have full access to everything — the spa, fitness center, all the pools and restaurants and beach area. Hotel guest will also have access to all the amenities.
Of interest to Longboaters and anyone wanting to visit the St. Regis, all of the restaurants are open to the public and beach walkers can stroll up and hang out at the Monkey Bar and eat at the beachside grill. The beachside grill is to be named “Aura” and Whittall describes it as “Latin-inspired with a Miami retro feel.”
The Tiki or “Monkey Bar” will be homage to Murf Klauber, the legendary owner of the former Colony Beach & Tennis Resort that operated on the site for more than four decades before collapsing under the burden of lawsuits and deferred maintenance.

Membership program
The St. Regis beach will be for the condo owners and hotel guest and owners of one of 400 memberships.
Whittall said 400 St. Regis memberships will be available for about $125,000 and will allow full access to all including the spas, the tennis court and pickleball courts, bars, taverns and speakeasy, and the beach area.
A major part of the operation and appeal is the ballroom of almost 12,000 square feet. Whittall waves across the hall to the far wall where a $500,000 LED screen can be implemented into events and conferences.
“The whole look of the ballroom and all of its colors can change through the LED lighting system,” Whittall says.
Like an endless brochure of amenities, the spa has a steam room, a snow room, a cold plunge pool, and every other feature one could find. But this spa also has waterfront views and a fireplace.
Walking outside the hotel, the space between it and the residences are filled with paths along a lazy river, a grotto that the lazy river flows through.
“I saw that in Mexico and thought we had to do it here,” says Whittall of the grotto.
Around a bend is the resorts $10 million saltwater lagoon that is divable and has sting rays, coral and two, 600-pound gopher tortoises named Will and Astor. A marine biologist is on staff to supervise the care.
“We will be able to rehabilitate marine life here as well’” Says Whittall.

Legacy continues…
Whittall plans to remain a presence at the hotel, which Unicorp owns. And similarly to his predecessor, Murf Klauber, he will maintain a residence on the property.
His plan in many ways would make Klauber proud. He wants to create memories, be part of the island and the community as time goes on, and strive to create memories and experiences for generations to come.




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