Sailing Ahead

By Hannah Wallace November 30, 2006

Cay Clubs International has been all about making a splash at its locations in places like Clearwater, the Florida Keys and Las Vegas. It hopes to do the same in Sarasota, thanks to an ambitious renovation and expansion plan.

The company acquired the former Holiday Inn site on North Tamiami Trail a year and a half ago, noting its proximity to Sarasota Bradenton International Airport, downtown Sarasota and many of the area's beaches. "It was a tremendous acquisition for our company," says Christopher Liekweg, assistant director of sales for Cay Clubs International. "We're stepping into a market where there is too much demand for and very little supply of resort-type settings, and we believe the Sarasota Cay Club is going to do very well."

The company began by converting the Holiday Inn's rooms into 160 condo-hotel units, selling them to individual owners for between $199,000 and just over $300,000. By acquiring some other property around the Holiday Inn site, it now has the potential to build up to 300 additional units. According to Liekweg, prices for those units will take into account current market conditions and values, but he believes they won't be "too far away" from Phase One's price points.

These new units will boast lots of luxe touches, from plasma-screen TVs to granite countertops. The existing units will also be upgraded both inside and out to match the new construction, and the site's other facilities and amenities will get a face-lift, as well.

Once the whole project is completed in four to five years, the Sarasota Cay Club will feature a full-service marina with 88 slips, a spa and health club, upgraded meeting and conference space, and a completely redone pool area and clubhouse with new, higher quality dining options. Owners and guests will be able to take advantage of services like deep-sea fishing and scuba diving charters.

Liekweg believes the site will have plenty of appeal for those looking to either invest in or simply visit the Sarasota area. Individual owners stand to benefit by both owning property in a desirable market and having the chance to make additional revenue by putting it into the Sarasota Cay Club's rental pool. "We believe there is a tremendous amount of income-generating potential for our investor base," says Liekweg-a base he feels will likely include a lot of baby boomers.

The Sarasota Cay Club has also entered into an agreement with IMG Academies, the Bradenton-based sports training and educational facility known internationally for having nurtured and developed athletes like Pete Sampras, David Duval, and Freddy Adu, to provide overflow accommodations.

In addition, Cay Clubs International, in a joint venture with IMG, will build new townhouses and convert condo units on the IMG campus to house athletes and other athletic professionals, families of athletes in training, and Cay Club members. Prices will range from $499,000 to $949,000 for the condo units, and $1,049,000 and $1,299,900 for the townhouses. "The units at IMG will not be condo-hotel units like those at Sarasota Cay Club," says Liekweg. "This project is very exclusive and not open to the general public."

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