Westin Jekyll Island back on track, thanks to agreement

ATLANTA — The Westin Jekyll Island is expected to open by August 2014, thanks to a series of agreements the Jekyll Island Authority approved on Monday.

“The beachfront Westin will play a significant role in attracting businesses and leisure guests from across the country to Jekyll Island and the coast of Georgia,” Bob Krueger, chairman of the Jekyll Island Authority, said in a statement.

As part of the agreement, the board agreed to tap into the Jekyll Island Tourism Development Fund, established in September to promote tourism projects and development on the island. Doing so helps the developer secure financing for the $40 million project.

“We expect The Westin Jekyll Island to be the catalyst that enables Jekyll Island revitalization to achieve its full potential,” C. Jones Hooks, executive director of the Jekyll Island Authority said in a statement.

The new 200-room hotel Westin Jekyll Island is needed to support the Jekyll Island Beach Village, which also features the 128,000-square-foot Jekyll Island Convention Center that opened this spring, supporters say.

Construction, which was to have started in September, now must begin by April 30 and be completed by Aug. 31, 2014, as part of the agreement, The Associated Press reported.

The Westin Jekyll Island is the latest hotel project aimed at reinventing the island as a tourist destination. In 2010, the 138-room Hampton Inn and Suites was the first new hotel to open on Jekyll Island since 1974.

The state of Georgia owns Jekyll Island while a separate authority governs the island. Part of the Golden Isles in South Georgia, only 35 percent of the island can be developed under the guidelines currently imposed.

The island is also home to the Jekyll Island Club Hotel, a National Historic Landmark first established as a hunting club for the nation’s elite, and The Horton House, a historic homestead built in the 1740s.

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