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Bigger, better Amelia Island Resort in northeast Florida’s future

Photo courtesy Amelia Island Resort

AMELIA ISLAND, Fla. — TRT Holdings, the owner of Omni Island Hotels and Resorts, will invest $85 million in one of its newest properties, Amelia Island Resort, which was mired in bankruptcy only a year ago.

The move shifts the resort’s focus to meetings and conventions. Tom Digby, the managing director, told the Florida Times Union that previous management had placed more emphasis on leisure business. Now “we’re really focusing on the larger conventions,” he said.

Most important to meeting planners are an increase in the number of guest rooms and the amount of meeting space.

Most of the 20,000 square feet of additional space in the resort’s conference center will be a 16,500-square-foot ballroom.

Another 155 guest rooms, including 27 suites, will give the hotel a total of 404 oceanfront rooms.
Omni calls the project, which began in November, a “reimagining” of the 1,350-acre property, edged by vacation homes, townhomes and condominiums, and 54 holes of golf.

Developed by Charles Frazier in the 1970s, Amelia Island Plantation has been lauded for its environmental preservation, a hallmark of Frazier’s developments, which include Hilton Head Island’s Sea Island Resort.

Other changes in the offing include a new lobby with floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook the ocean, an expanded Beach Club and several new restaurants.

Roads and walkways will be redesigned to improve traffic flow and give pedestrians easy access to the beach, spa, shopping village and recreational areas.

A parking structure will add 350 spaces and 70 valet spots.

Already the largest employer in Nassau County, Omni Hotels and Resorts expects to add at least 100 new jobs once the enhancements are complete in spring 2013.