Monday, November 1, 2010

Fisherman's Paradise, an amazing five star floating resort.

On a gorgeous Wednesday morning, I jump onto a work boat loaded with boxes, contractors, and tools. The boat heads out of the pass, into a dead calm Gulf of Mexico. No navigation gear was being used, and I asked my host how we were going to find the ship. He chuckled, and said, "all you have to do is go west, and you can't miss it". He was right. In about 30 minutes, you could see a small bump on the horizon, which slowly grew into the most amazing vessel I have ever seen. We swing around to the back, and pull into the marina, that is actually built into the aft end of this 400 foot craft.

What you are going to see, is the first look, at a most unique, floating 5 star resort hotel, dedicated exclusively to providing guests with world class fishing, and diving experiences. There is no amenity, or detail that has been overlooked. Construction has been ongoing for five years  now, and it's currently about 85% complete. 

My host takes me to the main lobby check in desk, where I sign in. He introduces me to the staff, and gives me a quick tour, (it took an hour), and then said have at it, and the rest of my day was spent wandering agog through this immense, and exciting vessel with my camera.

I wander down a beautiful hallway on the first level, and check out some of the rooms.

All of the accommodations are lovely, and consist of spacious twin queen rooms with full en-suite baths, VIP single king rooms, that also feature jacuzzi tubs, and beautiful multi-room suites. All rooms have at least two large windows that face the ocean, have large flat screen TV's, beautiful woodwork, and elegant finishing touches. 

On the second level is a full service bar, with a granite bar top, and seating facing the sea, although on this craft, it is hard to find a location where you can't see the water. Bright ambient lighting abounds everywhere. 

The bar resides at one end of a very large, and comfortable lounge, which will provide the perfect place to tell your fish stories, after a perfect day out catching the big ones.  

The lounge also includes a custom built 900 bottle wine, and cigar cellar, has quiet nooks for reading, or chatting, and features a massive salt water aquarium, that separates the restaurant from the lounge.

Off the lounge, and facing the sea is a lovely restaurant that is staffed by professional chefs who are prepared to cook your catch, or serve you from a full and varied menu.

The galley is a state of the art. custom built facility, that would be the envy of most landlocked restaurants, and has the capability to prepare excellent food for larger day events.

On the bow a 70' swimming pool is being completed, that curves around a swim up bar. The pool bar is also accessible from the two sun decks on either side.

As I mentioned, the amenities list goes on and on. There are two separate gyms, one dedicated to weight machines, and, the other to aerobics, a sauna, and even a movie theater.

Fishing and diving is the mission, and the very clever gantry structure is part of this. The primary fishing fleet consists of two 32' center console Boston Whaler Outrages, two 28' center console Scouts, a 60' Viking Sportfish, and the 50' head boat that will be used for larger fishing parties, Fisherman's Paradise also has additional boats available for larger functions.

On the aft starboard deck, a set of rails hold the cradles for the four center console boats. This clever gantry system picks up the boats from the marina, after a day out on the water, and places them on cradles, that are then shifted forward, so the next boat can be picked up. Overnight, the boats will be cleaned, serviced, and in the early morning they are restocked with ice, bait, beverages, and gear.

The fishing, and diving details are endless, and include a very large capacity saltwater ice-maker for fish boxes, a walk in flash freezer for customers catches, at least what isn't going to be eaten for dinner that night. A full Tusa dive shop, with Tusa certified staff, and air, and nitrox tank refilling systems. Guests will use all top of the line Shimano equipment, and private storage lockers are available for member's fishing personal gear. A large stainless steel fish cleaning station is also located on the aft deck.

I didn't want to forget the two King Kong sized tanks for the live bait, with fresh sea water circulation, and the freezers for the frozen bait to boot. I have strained my brain, and I can't think of anything else that you could possibly need to catch the big one, or two, or three.

But of all of the craft attached to this floating fishing eden, the one below is my favorite. It is a stunning Sikorsky S-76 executive helicopter, that lives on the heliport on the top deck.

This beautiful seven passenger aircraft is used to transport guests from the mainland, out to Fisherman's Paradise, and back. For those who would prefer a more pastoral transportation experience, boats are available for transport also.

The builder's of this vessel, are all avid sportsmen, and very environmentally conscious. One of the most notable aspects of Fisherman's Paradise, is the huge investment in environmental systems. All garbage that can be incinerated, is, in a special low emission system. All other garbage is compacted, and shipped to shore for recycling, or to a land fill. Waste treatment systems process all grey, and black water, and only filtered, and sterile water is returned to sea. Even the remnants from the fish cleaning station is processed on board, and not just thrown into the water.

To that end, Fishermans Paradise is in current discussions with several universities to set up a marine research station on board, and they are actively exploring the possibility of acquiring a submarine to support this type of research. There are also discussions with local counties, about managing, and expanding artificial reef programs for the area, and they are developing a program to allow local charter captains to participate in the project.

The ship is a virtual ecosystem by itself. There was never a time I looked down into the water, and didn't see large quantities of bait fish continually circling around this amazing vessel. With a 3/4 of an acre footprint, sea life abounds under the vessel, and underneath you can find barracuda, cobia, and many other species, including occasional visits from whale sharks. Last year several hundred migrating humming birds stopped on the boat for a day to rest up, before moving on.

So what will happen next? Fisherman's Paradise is quickly nearing completion, and the ship will go into dry dock in December, to have a bottom job, and to have the vessel's hull cleaned, and repainted, so it will look as good as the rest of the ship does now. A series of private soft openings will occur after the first of the year to test, and wring out the resorts capabilities. Sometime in the early spring, Fisherman's Paradise will fully open. A large floating dock system is being fabricated to allow additional boat dockage for guests, and to support upcoming planned fishing tournaments.

When complete, Fishermans Paradise will be relocated near the famed west coast of Florida's middle grounds, in waters still close enough to support quick access to excellent diving sites, and world class fishing locations. Fisherman's Paradise will periodically be moved to new sites such as off Ft. Jefferson, in the Florida Keys, Cancun Mexico, the Lump off of Venice Louisiana,  Panama, and back again to the west coast of Florida.

I will visit Fisherman's Paradise again for you, after the dry dock make over, and it is completed, to give you another look. There is still lots of room for expansion, and there are many new exciting features planned for the future.

So what's a truly perfect day? The helicopter picks up my wife and I, and in a hop and skip, we are well off shore, and settling gracefully onto the heliport deck. We check into a lovely twin queen room, and take a quick swim. Later we wander down to the restaurant, have a superb dinner, while watching the sunset, and visit the lounge afterward, for a couple of drinks, and conversation. The sun comes up the following morning, and I head out into the Gulf, for a day of fishing. My wife prefers lazing about with a good book, on one of the pool decks, with a drink that has an umbrella in it.

I catch a 20 lb Black Fin Tuna, a large Grouper, and hook something huge, but alas it gets away (it will make for a great story anyway). At the end of the day, the chef cooks my catch for dinner, and with plenty of wasabi it enjoyably disappears. We spend the evening in the lounge, telling fish stories, and off to bed we go. In the morning, we pick up a cooler that is packed with fresh tuna, and grouper, and the helicopter whisks us back to the mainland. World class fishing, with a beautiful room, at a stunning facility, and no spending the night sleeping in a bean bag chair. Welcome to Fisherman's Paradise.

To learn more about Fisherman's Paradise, click here. It is amazing, and surprisingly affordable!

Fishermans Paradise revisited after a makeover story is here.

If you came here on a direct link to this article, you can find my other articles in the archives to your right, or you can see the current articles here on my home page, thanks, Bill Bishop