CLEARWATER BEACH — Like most weekends, the city’s resort island will be rocking but the added enthusiasm will be for the official grand reopening of Shepard’s Beach Resort to celebrate the completion of its estimated $35 million expansion.
Two events are planned. The first is an invitation-only charity event starting at 6 p.m. Friday that will benefit Suncoast Hospice. Proceeds from a silent auction and admission charges collected from the entertainment venue, will be donated to Suncoast Hospice Foundation.
The second celebration — an all-day affair — will take place starting at 12 noon Saturday and is open to the public.
This latest expansion project transformed the 2.689 acre lot at 619 S. Gulfview Blvd. into a dazzling and contemporary splash of Miami-style with far more sparkle than the average hotel.
The expansion, which received city approval in 2009, required an 18 month construction period that started in 2011. A 96-unit, two-story complex and pool area, once known as the Lagoon Resort Motel which was constructed in 1957, was razed to make way for the new resort.
The new six-story tower features 93 hotel rooms and one of the crowning jewels of the expansion is the completely renovated restaurant and kitchen – now named Ocean Flame.
“Ocean Flame is nothing like this area has ever seen. It’s more like a place you would see in New York or Las Vegas,” said William Shephard, Jr., director of operations. “It’s a very contemporary buffet style with an open, interactive kitchen. So, chefs are preparing dishes fresh right before your eyes.”
The other crowning jewel is the stunning new 7,000-square-foot pool deck and pool bar, a tropical island oasis overlooking Clearwater Pass and the Gulf of Mexico.
Shepard’s has grown wildly popular as a full-fledged vacation and entertainment resort, becoming one of the most popular weekend spots for the party crowds because of its beach-side tiki bar and its indoor and outdoor concert venues.
And while the weekends tend to draw the largest party crowds, the atmosphere at the resort during the rest of the week is likely to surprise most, as it tends to be subdued and laid-back.
The property has undergone a number of renovations and expansions under the ownership of the late William Shepard Sr. including a new 40-plus unit tower and 192 parking garage in 2001. A new 11,000-square-foot tiki bar area featuring a professional concert stage was completed in 2012.
The Shepard Sr. purchased the Lagoon Resort Motel property in 1977 and later changed the name to Shepard’s Beach Resort. He passed away last December after a battle with cancer. He was 74.
The resort operation is now under the management of his son, William Jr., who attended Johnson and Wales University for Culinary Arts, and his daughter, Gerri, who studied Hospitality Management at Florida State University. The siblings have been in the business since 1991.
“This expansion is the vision and dream of my father,” said Gerri, director of operations at the resort. “We are proud to dedicate the grand re-opening in my father’s memory. He would have been thrilled with the way it has all turned out,” she said.
“Guests who haven’t been to Shephard’s for some time will never recognize it,” said William Shepard, Jr. “The changes to this resort are nothing short of amazing.”
For details, visit www.shephards.com, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or call (727) 442-5107.