Around the island . . . Business after hours at the Omni

Submitted by Gerry Clare

Roving Reporter

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Thursday, September 19th brought the Amelia Island-Fernandina Beach-Yulee Chamber of Commerce Business After Hours Event to the 85 million dollar expansion and renovation of the Omni Hotel at the Amelia Island Plantation.  Local business representatives were able to tour the facilities, enjoy networking and hors-d’oeuvres and learn about the offerings of the resort.

Bill Moore, the chairman of the chamber board of directors, introduced Tim Digby, managing director of the Omni, who thanked everyone for coming.  He mentioned that the Omni acquired the property for $67.5 million and added another $85 million to the re-imagining for this unique piece of property.  He also recognized it as a wonderful natural habitat and the #1 revue producer for Omni in June.

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Tom Clare tests a Segway at Business After Hours.

The improvements include 404 luxury oceanfront guest rooms and suites, the largest pool deck in Northeast Florida (with an adults-only infinity pool), 80,000 square feet of meeting space and a variety of new culinary options. Additionally, the Villas of Amelia Island Plantation feature 300 one, two and three bedroom villas with ocean, golf or resort view. Activities include golf, tennis, kayaking, horseback riding, Segway tours, and seven miles of paved trails.

Nassau County, of course, benefits by all the many visitors that come to the resort through conventions or privately, as they spend many of their tourist dollars at our local businesses.  In fact, according to Gil Langley, the director of the Amelia Island Tourist Development Council, as of August, “this is the best year ever in terms of number of tourists and revenue for our area.”  Also, the Omni is hosting Texas Roadhouse in April (after their representatives’ recent visit) for a conference.  They are a large restaurant owner group and will have 1,200 people staying there.

Of course, there are other good reasons to be excited about this expansion in the form of property taxes being paid to the county (in six figures for the hotel property and almost seven for the total Omni bill).  Bed tax is also paid on the guest rooms, which supports the Tourist Development Council as well.  It is important to note that the Omni is the largest single employer in our county and contributes generously to our local community non-profit affairs and events.  All in all, they are a good neighbor.

At the Local Authors Marketplace…Omni 7 Crop

The Third Annual Local Authors Marketplace took place Saturday, September 28th at St.Peter’s Episcopal Church with a new line-up of local authors. The event was again sponsored by Books Plus and High-Pitched Hum and food was provided by Sonny’s BBQ.  According to Maggie DeVries, the founder of this event and owner of Books Plus, this third anniversary event was very successful.  She likes to vary the authors, both adult and children’s, so it is not the same event every year.
There were free adult workshops, children’s activities and time to talk to some wonderful authors, including a “mermaid”, author Jan DiRuzzo, and featured authors, Wendy Wax and Ken Burger.  Retired Jacksonville police chief, Bruce Thomason, was another of the local authors who brings a unique perspective to his novels. Sunday offered an opportunity to attend the Authors Luncheon at Joe’s 2nd Street Bistro.

Celebrating at Osprey Village…Osprey 1

Saturday, September 28th, also featured a 15th anniversary party at Osprey Village.  There were tents, balloons, a bounce house, food booths and entertainment, all in front of the villas and assisted living facility on Burney Road, just a short distance from the beach.

Residents in decorated golf carts, walkers and old cars came to celebrate and have fun.  They brought families and grandchildren and the afternoon turned out to be terrific weather for the event.  Visitors could take tours of the Assisted Living Facility (with 36 rooms), the Villas, or the model cottages and club house.  Also noteworthy, is the fact that Livelong Home Care is also available.

Executive Director, Dana Sargent, is pictured with some of the residents Roger and Annmarie Conant, and Gus and Nancy Ehrman.  It certainly looked like a lively group and there were many interested, greying visitors (like us) there as well, checking out the future possibilities.

Gerry Clare.jpg 2Editor’s Note: Gerry began free lance writing for fun and is the author of a published book (available on Amazon and at Books Plus) about funny real estate experiences.  Gerry is a longtime member of our local American Business Women’s Chapter, a volunteer cancer driver and church deacon who loves to read, travel and meet interesting people.

October 2, 2013 12:53 p.m.