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Jacksonville Holiday Inn Closes to Make Way for Courtyard by Marriott

April 4th, 2006 - The Holiday Inn Sunspree Resort in Jacksonville Beach Florida will be closing on April 16th to undergo a twelve million dollar renovation project. With construction expected to last the remainder of the year, the property is estimated to reopen in early 2007 as a Marriott Courtyard.

Owned and operated by the Shaner Hotel Group, the 50+ year old building will be gutted and retrofitted with all new electrical and plumbing, as well as hurricane windows and doors as required by Florida’s stringent building codes. “This project will result in a new property that is state of the art and better prepared to compete in the marketplace” according to Dipi Shawney, Vice President of Operations for the Shaner Group.

The renovation was originally scheduled to start in the fall of 2005, but due to unforeseen forces in the construction industry, most notably Hurricane Katrina, the start date had been postponed until now. “It was not our intention to start construction at the beginning of the busy season, but circumstances dictated that now is the time” says Mr. Shawney. Jeff Truhlar, General Manager of the Holiday Inn states “We’ve closed our inventory to new reservations at least three times since December in anticipation of beginning construction”.

The new 150 room Courtyard by Marriott will have Mediterranean style architecture with tile flooring and private arched balconies. Room types will consist of a mixture of double bed rooms, King rooms, and Suites, all of them complete with mini-refrigerators, microwaves and coffee machines.

The lobby area will feature an ocean view restaurant, a full service lounge, and a gift shop/deli area, all located behind the front desk island which will be the first thing you see when entering the hotel. A number of executive meeting and banquet rooms will be located street side on the first floor. Pool side doubles, kings, and suites will offer ocean views and quick access to the pool area.

On the beach side is the swimming pool, a Tiki Bar and an outside bathhouse. The south end of the deck will have a sit down fire pit for Bar-B-Que’s and special events. The beach side entrance will be gated and require a key for entrance. The top floor of the new Marriott Courtyard will be two executive suites with private keyed entrance, and a staging area kitchen serving them.

Located between 15th and 16th Ave North on First Street in Jacksonville Beach, the Holiday Inn Sunspree is a well known oceanfront resort to visitors of Jacksonville. A landmark in Jax Beach, the property is easily recognized by the giant mural of two Blue Whales swimming off into the sunset on First Street. The whales will be retired as the renovation proceeds.

As a result of 150 hotel rooms being taken off the market, visitors to Jacksonville Beach can expect the remaining hotels to be filled to capacity throughout the summer, and room pricing to follow market forces.

“When we reopen as a Marriot Courtyard, this property will be the newest state of the art hotel in the area, and our goal is to be the market leader” says GM Jeff Truhlar.

The Sponaugle Construction Company, out of Jacksonville Florida will be the general contractor handling the renovation project.

The Shaner Hotel Group, headquartered in College Street, PA also owns the Fairfield Marriot across the street from the Holiday Inn, as well as numerous hotels throughout the United States.