New luxury resort proposed for Saint Lucie County

100-million dollar project planned off A1A

Visitors to the National UDT-Navy Seal Museum north of Ft. Pierce can see the Maersk Alabama lifeboat that was captured by Somali pirates in 2009.


"It's a piece of history," says Rick Kaiser, the Executive Director of the museum.


It's now also part of cinematic history in the new Tom Hanks movie "Captain Phillips".


But while tourists can see a lot of neat things, they can't always find a hotel.


"People always say, 'Where can I stay?'


It's very limited nearby," says Kaiser.


However, that could change. On Tuesday, developer George Heaton presented his plan to St. Lucie County Commissioners for a new luxury hotel on North Hutchinson Island.


"We're real confident there's a market out there for this product. We have a lot of South Floridians who love to come to this area and spend their weekends," said Heaton.


The Orchid Beach Resort would consist of three 12-story buildings with 400 rooms as well as space for conferences and weddings.


The site is a former Radisson Hotel torn down after suffering hurricane damage. 


Heaton claims his oceanfront hotel will be the only of its kind for miles. 


The competition is 12 miles north to Vero Beach or 50 miles south to Jupiter and 63 miles to Singer Island.  


Heaton added the proposed site is not as prone to erosion.


"So it (beach) is getting bigger every year and people who want to go to a destination resort love to have beaches," said Heaton.


Tourism officials say this would be a huge shot in the arm for the area.


"It's especially going to help our sometimes struggling tour operators here in Ft. Pierce.  Our charter fishing guides," said Charlotte Bireley, Tourism and Venues Director for St. Lucie County.


Still, don't call reservations just yet. Even if all goes as planned, the new hotel wouldn't be ready for business before 2016.




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