Driving over the Boca Grande Bridge brings back 30 years of memories vacationing on Gasparilla Island with my children, relatives and family friends. It still has the same homes, the same shops, the same restaurants and the same ambiance from those bygone days. Rather than a been-there, done-that vacation, it’s a so-glad-to-be-back respite.
In our Take Ten series, we connect with different partners on the Banyan Gasparilla Sound project to discuss their perspective on what makes this wellness community the jewel of Florida’s Gulf Coast. Our first Q and A is from Matt Greene, Executive Vice President of Operations, of Evolution Hospitality.
1. What is the scope of your involvement with the overall hospitality operations for Banyan Gasparilla Sound?
I will work with Integra on all things Banyan: Programming to develop a unique resort experience based on our geographic location taking advantage of the marina, the ocean and all that goes with it like water activities, State of the art Spa and wellness program, etc. We will develop a sensory experience at the resort, activate key “Touch Points”, create unexpected delights and cater to the unique & individual needs of our guests. I will work with our Taste & Theory team to develop unique F&B offerings throughout the resort that will have unique seasonal menu offerings that take advantage of our geographic location.
2. What projects have you supported that is your inspiration for BGS?
I think of early W Hotels, I was Senior Director of W Hotels new builds and acquisitions, bringing something entirely new to travelers. New York City set expectations for something special, energizing and creative. The bar was set high and we delivered. . I worked with Owners/Developers, their Architecture & ID Teams in W’s growth period. I had 43 W Hotel Developments Globally.
3. How do you define a ‘lifestyle experience’?
A lifestyle experience considers a multitude of factors: Experience for all of the senses, unique offerings based on geography, Activation of the resort at key “Touch Points”, personalizing stays for our repeat guests and VIPs by knowing what their personal preferences are. Having a maniacal focus driving unique experiences. Having best in class offerings like our Spa & Wellness facility, F&B outlets, luxury pool and grounds, as well as our first-class marina.
4. How does that translate for a resident at a project like BGS?
Because we have the opportunity to truly get to know our residents and personalize their offerings and know their preferences when they dine with us, go to our spa and join us at the pool. Because we are driving experience, we will garner a significant premium for those that have their units in our rental pool.
5. We’ve heard the term ‘wellness community’ used to describe BGS, what does that mean?
We have curated a variety of amenities designed to help residents live their best lives through stress and relaxation treatments in our spa, a Mediterranean inspired on-site dining concept, lushly landscaped grounds to help residents and guests connect with nature as they traverse the property, and the developer is looking for well-centric building materials and features to enhance the hotel and living quarters.
6. How does that impact everyday life for someone that calls BGS home?
The residents will have our highly skilled team cater to their every needs. Those residents that stay often, we will get to know their preferences in F&B, favorite spot at the pool, special occasions to provide “unexpected delights”. And treat them as an extension of our families. With frequency of stays we get to truly understand how to cater to each resident’s specific needs.
7. Why does having a strong hospitality partner matter when it comes to a new construction community?
The great news is that we are starting the project together from the very start which enables us to ensure we are focused on both “Form as well as Function”. We see too many resorts that look beautiful but don’t function properly and that is a turn off for residents, guests and owners alike. One example is a beautiful bed that sits on a pedestal that isn’t flush with the mattress. This creates a safety issue as well as a wear & tear issue where the bed gets beaten up and its useful life is dramatically shorter.
8. What are some other projects you manage that potential buyers might be familiar with?
Hard Rock San Diego, L’Auberge de Sedona, The Landing Lake Tahoe, Carneros Resort & Spa…
9. How do you keep abreast of trends with lifestyle and technology?
I travel extensively on a weekly basis. I am passionate about keeping up with trends and maniacal about focusing on how to differentiate upscale hotels & resorts. I have traveled the world and am always on the lookout for unique offerings and technology advancements. We often are called upon to Beta Test State of the Art technology because of our scale & influence on the industry & our owners/developers.
10. What are the words that you’d like visitors to BGS use to describe the experience?
I am ready to go back, I feel relaxed, pampered and disconnected from the outside world when I am at BGS.
Many people visit for its many thrilling theme parks such as Disney but stay for its flawless white-sand beaches. For those seeking a perfect Florida island to laze away the summer days, here are some of the best and most beautiful.