Pink Shell Resort creating memories at 70
Since the 1950s, the Pink Shell Resort has transformed from a collection of cottages at the opulent hotel property on Fort Myers Beach near Bowditch Point Park to three high-rise buildings with 205 rooms that all overlook the Gulf of Mexico.
This year, the Pink Shell Resort will turn a young 70, as its hotel buildings were built between 1998 and 2007, replacing the old cottages. The main building, the White Sand Silks, has nine floors. Two other buildings, the Sanibel View and Captiva villas have seven floors and five floors respectively.
Robert Boykin and his brother Jack purchased the property in 1998 with their former company Boykin Lodging Company in 1998 and acquired it outright in 2006. In 2013, they completed construction on 41 floating docks across the street for boaters who want to stay at the resort or dine in. The docks can handle yachts up to 120-feet long. Robert Boykin estimates that he and his brother have invested $70 million into the property.
“We’re all about serving families and creating memories,” Boykin said. “We work hard on the memories.”
The resort likes to focus on being family friendly. There are speakers underneath the water in the main pool that play popular songs from the 1950s and 1960s. The theme from the movie “Jaws” is expected to become another sound swimmers will hear in the pool, along with the voices of dolphins.
“We stay busy year-round,” Pink Shell Resort Senior Vice President of Operations Bill Waichulis said.
Some unique aspects of the Pink Shell guests will notice are wristbands which get guests into their rooms as well as through beach gates and can even used as a charge card at the hotel’s restaurants.
There are three restaurants at the resort: Rae’s on the Beach, Bongo’s Bar & Grill and Jack’s Breakfast Buffet.
Both restaurants highlight fish.
“We only use local seafood,” Waichulis said. “All of our fish is Trico.”
Some of menu items at the restaurants include the grouper sandwich, wings, lobster, steak, burgers and salads.
Bongo’s Bar and Grill is outside overlooking the pool deck while Rae’s on the Beach is inside.
There is a spa on site.
“One of the big differences here that most don’t have on the beach is our liquor license extends to the water,” Waichulis said. Guests can relax on the sand with chairs and umbrellas. Raise a flag and a server will respond to take an order. With 48 hours notice, the hotel will set up a table for a four-course dinner on the beach for guests at sunset with candlelights.
Food service on the beach stops at 10:30 p.m. currently and is cut off at 9 p.m. during the turtle season.
The resort is equipped with turtle-friendly amber lights, Wachulis said.
There is an osprey nest on site. The resort keeps a naturalist on staff who does nightwalks on the beach, tours at Bowditch Park, eco tours and kayak tours that feature dolphins and fiddler crabs.
There are three pools. One is for adults only and one is for children. The biggest is a large family pool known as the “Octopool” for the massive octopus overseeing the pool above a waterfall.
The resort is popular for those tying the knot. Wachulis estimates there are approximately 75 weddings at the hotel in a normal year.
Owner Robert Boykin said 2018 was a rough season for the resort due to the red tide. Business has rebounded as the red tide issue faded and has been “great” over the past year, he said.
The hotel’s lobby features a big screen to display big sporting events like the Super Bowl and will also be used for movie nights. Every Monday and Thursday, guests are treated to free margaritas in the lobby along with cheese.
While the Boykins have other real estate holdings, “the Pink Shell is special to us,” Robert Boykin said. “It’s a real passion for us. Hopefully, it will be in our family for a long time.”