Growth continues in Lakewood Ranch with new hotel, restaurant planned

Even Hotel replacing Holiday Inn at Lakewood Ranch

$6 million renovation set as Lakewood Ranch hotel takes upscale, health-conscious turn. Rebranding to be completed in September.
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$6 million renovation set as Lakewood Ranch hotel takes upscale, health-conscious turn. Rebranding to be completed in September.

Hotel row at Lakewood Ranch could grow in the near future.

Floridays Development Company of Sarasota is seeking approval from Manatee County government to build a five-story, 118-room hotel and a 7,000-square-foot restaurant at Lakewood Ranch, north of University Parkway and east of Interstate 75.

The new hotel would be built off Beneficial Way, just north of the existing Hyatt Place Hotel, and the Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott Sarasota Lakewood Ranch.

The longest-standing hotel in the area, the Holiday Inn located south of University Parkway, at 6231 Lake Osprey Drive., rebranded itself as the more upscale Even Hotel with $6 million in renovations.

Even Hotel and Fairfield Inn and Suites, 6105 Exchange Way, are both owned by the George Steinbrenner family and their partners. The Fairfield Inn recently was treated to $2.2 million in renovations.

The developers of the proposed new Lakewood Ranch hotel are in negotiations with possible operators but declined to say what brand the restaurant and hotel might carry.

“We have not picked a franchise yet,” said Floridays’ Steve Mullen, who added the new additions would be a “real boon” to the area.

If permitting goes as anticipated, construction could start in the third quarter of this year and open about 12 months later, Mullen said.

A new five-story hotel and 7,000-square-foot restaurant is proposed for east of Interstate 75 and north of University Parkway at Lakewood Ranch. James A. Jones Jr.

No immediate issues have surfaced with the project, said Jim Rigo, Manatee County government case manager.

The proposed hotel property is about 60 feet north of the Hyatt property line.

Floridays is the same company that built the Hyatt Place Hotel-Lakewood Ranch and the Grande Riviera, a 13-unit ultra-luxury residence in downtown Sarasota. Floridays also was selected to build the Margaritaville hotel off Manatee Avenue in west Bradenton.

Growing hotel room inventory and occupancy rates have been a topic of discussion at Manatee County Tourist Development Council meetings. Walter Klages, founder of Research Data Services, regularly briefs the panel on hotel occupancy rates, which have declined, while room rates have remained strong.

Sports tourism has become an increasingly important part of Manatee County’s tourism industry, complementing the strong base of tourism on Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key.

Events at Premier Sports Campus, Nathan Benderson Park and IMG Academy pull new visitors to the area. In 2018, those visitors helped balance the downturn in tourism along the Manatee County shore caused by red tide.

Prior to the wave of new hotels being constructed, there was often an insufficient number of nearby rooms to handle the influx of visitors for major athletic events.