For months, it’s risen from the beach at Gulf State Park.
Up to 500 workers on-site at any given time, building the new lodge and convention center. “Really getting into the homestretch here to getting this finished later this year.” State Conservation Commissioner Chris Blankenship gave News 5 a look behind the scenes. “This is the ballroom in the conference center. It’s the largest gulf facing ballroom on the Gulf Coast.”
Something that has been missing from the Alabama coast since Hurricane Ivan in 2004. This facility built and designed to withstand such storms with minimal damage or downtime according to Volkert construction manager Stan Winter. “The state does not want to invest in a facility like this only to have to come back and rebuild it every time a storm comes through.”
There are three parts to the massive construction site. The convention center, in the middle the lobby that houses four restaurants and three buildings on the end house 350 hotel rooms managed by Hilton and general manager Bill Bennett. “You’ll have all the amenities that the modern-day traveler comes to expect.”
Two rooms are finished to show off what the rest will look like. “From the individual traveler perspective, we anticipate being live on the Hilton system in the next two weeks.”
“This is much needed here on coastal Alabama,” adds Blankenship. “This is going to make it really good to have conferences here of all different sizes that people can see what really great beauty we have here in Alabama.”
Scheduled to open in November, a significant number of conventions and events have already booked for this fall.
The lodge and convention center is the biggest part of an entire revamp of Gulf State Park that includes 30 miles of trails, an educational campus along Lake Shelby and an interpretative center that will open in June near the Beach Pavilion.