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Groundbreaking Holiday Inn Resort Fort Walton Beach


Beachfront Hotel Fort Walton BeachNovember 14, 2012 – Okaloosa Island Florida – Emerald Breeze Resort Group acquired financing to construct a $25 million, 152 room Holiday Inn Resortin Fort Walton Beach on Okaloosa Island. 

They will celebrate with groundbreaking ceremony on the site on Friday, November 16, 2012.

The development will occupy 17 beachfront acres near the popular resort area of Destin, Florida in Okaloosa County. 

The land is owned by the United States Air Force and will be leased to the Emerald Breeze Resort Group for 50 years at fair market value. The lease was awarded after a competitive process initiated by a public request for qualifications four years ago.  

The property was made available for private development via the Enhanced Use Lease (EUL) program.  This program is managed by the Air Force Civil Engineer Center (AFCEC) and identifies underutilized military properties with ongoing mission requirements.  In this case, the Air Force will maintain a passive radio receiver dish and camera equipment on the hotel’s roof.

Revenue generated from the lease will be contributed to the Eglin Air Force Base budget.  Additionally, the Holiday Inn Resort will proudly contribute approximately 4,000 discounted room nights at selected times to both active duty and retired military members via the hotel’s Military Appreciation Program. Beachfront Hotel Fort Walton Beach
Emerald Breeze Resort Group is a partnership between Gulf Coast based Innisfree Hotels and the Creek Indian Enterprises Development Authority–the investment arm of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians from Atmore, Alabama. 

This is the second regional hotel development this economic power duo has collaborated on in less than a year; they’re currently building a 127-room Hyatt Place hotel at the Pensacola International Airport.  The ground breaking celebration for that $24 million project took place last January, and local workers were honored in a topping out ceremony in August.  That hotel, a Hyatt Place, is scheduled to open in the spring of 2013.

Julian MacQueen, Innisfree’s CEO and Founder says, “Our relationship with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians has spanned almost two decades and we’re extremely proud to partner with them once again.  This hotel will have a positive impact on a diverse range of stakeholders in our regional economy including local residents, visitors and military families.”

The general contractor and co-developer on the project is dck North America, who is planning on employing approximately 500 regional trades people during the construction phase.  Rich Chism, Innisfree’s Director of Development says, “dck has proven to be an invaluable asset due to both their contracting expertise and their rich knowledge of governmental processes. They’ve made an invaluable contribution to the success of this project thus far.”

Beachfront Hotel Fort Walton BeachThe resort has been designed by architect Larry Adams of Bullock Tice Associates.  Design elements will focus on creating physical spaces which nurture fun and memorable vacation experiences.  This is in keeping with Innisfree Hotel’s corporate motto of “having fun.”

When completed, the Holiday Inn Resort will offer a range of family friendly amenities.  The focus will be a $1 million Gulf front swimming pool outfitted with a lazy river and tiki bar designed by WAS Design.  

There will also be 16 family suites with kids rooms and gaming systems, supervised children’s programs, and an arcade.  The hotel lobby and Gulf front room balconies will offer expansive views of the emerald waters of the Gulf of Mexico.  The hotel will have 2,500 sf of meeting space.

Nineteen million dollars in project funding was provided by Pen Air Federal Credit Union and Navy Federal Credit Union.  Both are proud to make such a significant contribution to the Gulf Coast regional economy. Navy Federal provided 90% of the loan.  Navy Federal, with its focus on serving the military, is especially appreciative of the positive impact this development will have on the United States Air Force and of the benefits it will provide to military families. 

This is the third successful Innisfree hotel development project financed by Pen Air and Navy Federal.   These local credit unions also debt financed the Holiday Inn Resort in Pensacola Beach, FL which won an IHG brand award for Development of the Year in 2011.

The Okaloosa Island resort is scheduled to open in the spring of 2014 and is expected to employ approximately 120 people during peak season.

The project master plan includes an out parcel on Highway 98 that is available for a ground lease by others where the developer hopes a restaurant will be constructed.  Phase two of the project is already approved by Okaloosa County and the U.S. Air Force.  It currently includes a second 124 room Gulf front hotel.


Innisfree Hotels

For more than three decades, Innisfree Hotels has expertly managed and developed dozens of hotels in partnership with many of the world’s most recognized hotel brands. Today Innisfree owns or manages 2122 hotel rooms, and has approximately 1000 employees.

Innisfree is a Triple Bottom Line company which means we measure our success not only in profits, but also through our impact on people and the planet. To these ends Innisfree strives to promote a culture of responsibility and service to humanity.  

Our value driven corporate culture enables us to have a deeper understanding of the needs of our guests, partners and clients, and thus deliver service that is synonymous with creating fun and memorable experiences.