New owners and refurbishment for the Gibson Inn

George Sell George Sell Uploaded 14 August 2018

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US: The Gibson Inn, a boutique hotel in Apalachicola, Florida, has changed ownership for the first time in nearly 40 years.

The property was owned by The Gibson Venture, which, according to the Florida Division of Corporations, lists Michael Koun, Cornelius Koun and Michael Merlo as partners. The partners first put it on the market in mid-2014, but said they were in no hurry to sell, and wanted to find a buyer committed to maintaining the inn's historic place and charm in Apalachicola.

The new owner is Steven Etchen, a developer, property manager and commodities broker who spends his time between Cape San Blas and Geneva, Switzerland. Etchen said he and his sister, Katharine Couillard, were having dinner at the inn in April and had been discussing some business ventures. It was during dinner they learned the property was for sale.

"The idea came up and by the end of dinner, we decided we were going to go for it," Etchen said. "We didn't even know it was for sale."

Couillard, who has a background in marketing and publishing, is marketing director of the new venture.

The sale not only included The Gibson Inn, which features 30 guest rooms, a restaurant and bar, but also two additional buildings currently leased out on the same property on Avenue C in Apalachicola.

"I have a deep love for the area and hotel, and I'm thrilled to be part of its evolution," said Etchen, who grew up in Louisville, Kentucky. "My best childhood memories are from Apalach - and afternoons spent on those famous Gibson rocking chairs."

Etchen said renovations will begin immediately and introduced in two phases. The hotel will remain fully operational during the renovation process. The first phase includes upgrades to the guest rooms and suites, lobby and public areas, as well as the Parlor Bar and restaurant, Gormley's at the Gibson.

Improvements include redesigning some guest rooms as suites. The banquet room, currently used for private events, will also be transformed into a Billiard Room with pool tables and communal seating. Phase one is planned for completion in early 2019.

The second phase involves the development of property across the street from the main hotel, with a pool and patio, spa and fitness facilities, as well as new guest rooms and suites.

That renovation is expected to be finished in late 2019.

"The Gibson Inn may be getting a new look and updated amenities, but it will continue to provide the same level of service and hospitality that has welcomed both locals and travellers for decades," Etchen said. "The hotel is a local treasure, the crown jewel of Apalachicola - that will never change."

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