Beachfront hotel, closed since Hurricane Harvey, reopens

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — The building that was once a Holiday Inn along Whitecap Beach on North Padre Island suffered from a weather triple-whammy.

It’s been closed since Hurricane Harvey badly damaged it in August 2017. Then, in July 2020, Hurricane Hanna took a toll on the building and what renovations had been made to it. Finally, the deep freeze of February 2021 burst pipes and caused other problems.

But in January of this year, the building got new owners, new life, and a new name.

“New owners came in and said, ‘Alright, we’re going to make this thing work,'” Island Resort Executive Chef Gail Huesmann said. “And they have come in, and they have pulled out all the stops.”

In three months, they’ve made two floors of the six-story building into functioning hotel rooms, and repairs are nearly complete for the hotel’s pool and outdoor bar called ‘The Sandbar’.

The restaurant and bar are run by Huesmann — formerly of the Black Marlin at the La Palmilla Beach Resort in Port Aransas — and they are already whipping up a breakfast buffet and small bites for hotel guests.

Order-by-menu breakfasts, lunches and dinners that will be open to the public could be a little more than a week away, and Huesmann says it’s filling a void when it comes to dining and lodging options at area beaches.

“This will be the only full-service hotel — at least in the foreseeable future — anywhere on Padre Island or Mustang Island,” she said. “So it’s definitely an important thing.”

The Sandbar and Huesmann’s Beachside Bar and Grille won’t be fully functional until after the Davises, a couple visiting from Iowa, leave the Coastal Bend.

They stayed at the hotel before it was devastated by Harvey, and they’re staying there again now. The couple thinks the newly renamed Island Resort is on the right track.

“To have the restaurant back — it’s something that we would enjoy as well, because we like to (spend time on the beach) and not go anywhere else afterwards,” Kathy Davis said.

“You don’t need to go anywhere,” Jeff Davis said. “If (the restaurant is) here, you don’t need to leave.”

While that would be good for Island Resort, Huesmann is looking at the wider impact the hotel could have on the local economy by drawing more people to Corpus Christi.

“It’ll help the city with the generated hotel occupancy tax,” she said. “And it will help The Island — bringing people here who will also step out and spend their money at other businesses.”

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