provided to The Santiva Chronicle
For the first on-island Sanibel & Captiva Islands Chamber of Commerce business lunch since Hurricane Ian, ‘Tween Waters Island Resort hosted the Feb. 22 event at its Old Captiva House restaurant, with sponsorship from Offshore Sailing School. Following the meeting, ‘Tween Waters conducted tours of its two new restaurants’ construction site, and the chamber held a ribbon-cutting for Offshore Sailing at the marina.
“Despite the destruction, in 2022 we had the best year ever,” said Doug Babcock, president and CEO of Sanibel Captiva Beach Resorts (SCBR), which manages ‘Tween Waters, along with three other properties and vacation rentals on Sanibel and Captiva. Although SCBR lost use of many of its units, Old Captiva House and other ‘Tween Waters facilities fared well. “It was almost like there’s a bubble over this property.”
Babcock talked about the resort’s improvements that began before the hurricane and are going forward. ‘Tween Waters is adding a second floor to the original Crow’s Nest restaurant. The Shipyard will occupy the first floor with a wharf theme, possibly serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner; that hasn’t been conclusively decided. The new Crow’s Nest upstairs will serve as a fine-dining steakhouse, sushi bar, and whiskey bar with gulf views and reservations-only seating for dinner. Both venues are set to open April 1.
As far as other SCBR properties, West Wind Inn hopes to open 104 rooms by January 2026. The firm is in the early planning stage for the next generation of Castaways and Beachview cottage resorts.
“We are optimistic about the future,” said Babcock. “We are committed to being part of the recovery.” In 2021, SCBR contributed more than $175 million to the local economy. He and Chairman of the Board Tony Lapi attribute SCBR’s success to its strong and loyal employee base and to long-seated traditions.
Lapi led a Traditions & Trivia game session at the luncheon, awarding prizes to attending chamber members who could recall tidbits of ‘Tween Waters history.
“Tony himself is an important part of island history, having acquired the then ‘Tween Waters Inn back in the mid-1970s,” said John Lai, chamber president and chief executive officer. “’Tween Waters has supported the chamber for 15 years. We can’t do what we do without them. We really tip our hats to Tony and Doug.”
Lai announced that Islands Night will return on May 3 and presented Robbie Roepstorff, president of Bank of the Islands, with a special award acknowledging the bank’s strong role in supporting the chamber post-hurricane with a $15,000 contribution to its SanCap Strong shirt fundraiser. He presented her with a Lighthouse Member award, an encased brick recovered from the site where the historic Sanibel lighthouse keeper’s cottages were washed away in the storm.
“Offshore Sailing has been another of our super-strong supporters through the years,” said Lai. “We are thrilled they were able to move their Captiva sailing school from South Seas Island Resort as it rebuilds, to find a new home at ‘Tween.”
The nearly 60-year-old sailing school will have two Colgate 26 sailboats and a new Jeanneau 440 monohull yacht based at ‘Tween Waters starting March 1, with possible additions in the future. It will teach a three-day basic Learn to Sail course, Performance Sailing course, and its popular weeklong Fast Track to Cruising course to earn certification to skipper a boat up to 50 feet. Certification courses are available with or without a lodging package.
“Offshore Sailing School has offered sailing courses to adults and families on Captiva Island for decades, and we’re delighted to return to Captiva Island with our new resort partner, ‘Tween Waters Island Resort & Spa,” said CEO and President Doris Colgate. “We especially appreciate the guidance and support the Sanibel-Captiva Chamber of Commerce has provided to us and so many other area small businesses. This chamber leadership, staff, and board of directors continue to make a significant impact on our business’ success and the quality of our lives in Southwest Florida.”