The renovated Homosassa Riverside Resort will combine renting a hotel room and buying a condominium.
By RICHARD RAEKE
Published May 4, 2003
[Times photo:Stephen Coddington]
Construction worker Bob Mickey, right, uses a nail gun to work on the exterior of a window frame as fellow worker Mark Hanisch takes measuremenets during a renovation project at the Homosassa Riverside Resort.
HOMOSASSA - There's only so much you can do with hotel rooms. So when the Homosassa Riverside Resort decided to renovate, it turned from a traditional hotel into a condo/hotel resort.
Instead of renting a hotel room for a night, families now buy a condo to use for 90 days of the year.
Unlike a timeshare, they can choose to stay there anytime. The remainder of the year, other guests rent the condos, just as they would a normal hotel room. The resort gets 35 percent for managing the property.
The condo/hotel resort concept has been around for 20 years or more, said Gail Oakes, managing partner of the resort. "Is it new? No. Is it new for Homosassa? Yes."
The same families often visit every year and ask for longer rentals. Before, Oakes said, she would send them elsewhere, as the hotel rooms weren't suitable for more than a week's stay.
"We never had any place for people to stay for longer amounts of time," she said. Since the resort needed renovating anyway, the partners decided to convert the rooms into condos.
That involved stripping the walls down to the bare studs, installing full kitchens, upgrading the bathrooms and building balconies. Some rooms have been combined to make larger units while other rooms are staying the same size and being sold as studios.
Each building containing eight condos takes 90 days to complete and, once finished, Oakes said the resort will have 40 condos. So far, eight are finished and work on another eight is under way.
The system keeps the occupancy somewhat stable while bringing in outside visitors to keep a resort atmosphere, Oakes said. The renovations also allow the Homosassa Riverside Resort to get a higher price for a nightly rental.
Thomas Waits, president of the Florida Hotel and Motel Association, said converting to a condo/hotel resort is one way to creatively finance renovations, which would be especially attractive with the current low interest rates.
But, Waits said, "It's not sweeping the industry anymore than it has been for the last 20 years."