Resort adds 41 rooms and suites and refurbishes golf course a part of a more than $26 million project.
When construction began two years ago, the 92-year-old Ponte Vedra Inn & Club didn’t expect to be opening its new lodging space and golf course at 50% capacity.
But then, few foresaw the impact of COVID-19.
In early September, 41 new rooms and suites will be available to guests as well as a renovated golf course. That will bring the resort to a total of 262 rooms and suites.
The Ocean House and The Peyton House are an $18 million project, according to St. Johns County building records.
Danis Building Construction Co. demolished and rebuilt oceanside lodging that dated back to the 1960s.
The three-story buildings are at 239 and 245 Ponte Vedra Blvd. next to the property’s Surf Club and are 15,757 and 18,002 square feet, respectively.
Rooms are 500 square feet and two-bedroom suites with ocean views and complete kitchens are 1,000 square feet.
The two-bedroom suite costs $1,300 a night in season (March 1-Oct. 31) and $1,100 the rest of the year.
The inn’s original rooms also were refurbished when the resort was shut down in the spring.
The family pool has new slides, fountains and a zero-entry area. The lap pool remains as before.
Currently, pool occupancy is limited to 75 persons.
“This was a well-thought-out part of a master plan,” said Craig Schoninger, director of sales and marketing for the Ponte Vedra Inn & Club.
“What does the future look like for the property based on the needs of our guests and membership? All the while protecting our legacy and history while retaining our relevance and being modern.”
The resort’s Ocean golf course was shut down for a year for an $8 million renovation.
New sod was planted and the greens have been lowered by an average of 3 feet.
Lowering the greens allows for different playing strategies, said Jim Howard, director of golf.
Another benefit is that clubhouse diners can watch players putt on the lower No. 9 island green.
The outside space between the first and ninth holes was enlarged to better accommodate events.
The course plays to a par 71, because the 10th hole, formerly a par 4, is now a par 3 and has been moved to make room for an expanded practice and teaching area.
The resort plans to operate at 50% capacity in September.
While Schoninger expects business to be down at least 50% this year, the shutdown did make construction easier when the resort was closed in the spring.
Since reopening in June, nearly all furloughed employees have been brought back to work, Schoninger said.
He said business has been steady.
“The leisure side of the business rebounded rather quickly when we reopened. People wanted to get out,” Schoninger said.
Event business has been hit hard with the majority of bookings being canceled or postponed.
There has been some wedding business, but they have been sit-down affairs to comply with distancing recommendations, he said.
All employees start the workday with a mandatory temperature test.
After passing, employees must wear a colored wrist band designating that they are cleared to work. The band color changes daily.
Employees are masked and social distancing is in effect. Guests are encouraged, but not required, to wear masks when in common areas.
Other accommodations for the virus include room service being left at the guest’s door rather than being delivered into the room.
There are no magazines in rooms. Instead, guests have access to the Press Reader app and can choose from 10,000 publications while on property.
The Tavern bar and Surf Deck Grille are closed, while the Seahorse Grille and Surf Club Patio are open.
When guests check out, the room remains vacant for a day and is thoroughly cleaned before the next guest arrives.
The campus-style layout of the resort is an advantage, Schoninger said.
Guests are able to social distance in common areas and there are no crowded elevators.
Many of the resort’s activities are outside – golf, tennis, the beach. The resort’s spa and gym are operating by appointment only.
Currently, the spa is offering massages, facials, manicures, pedicures and hair services. The spa pool and dining are open, but the saunas are not.
To prepare for the opening, besides print and digital advertising, the resort is contacting past and repeat customers inviting them to book a vacation.
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