ST. PETE BEACH — World-renowned marine artist Guy Harvey plans to rebrand the TradeWinds Sandpiper Suites with his signature sportfishing motif.
The first Guy Harvey Outpost in the United States is scheduled to open in 2013, after a $3 million renovation to the 211-room beachfront resort that begins next week. The partnership was announced at a news conference Thursday afternoon at the Miami International Boat Show.
"This is a perfect fit for us," said Keith Overton, president of the TradeWinds Island Resorts. "Guy Harvey has a tremendous fan base, and the Tampa Bay area sells more of his T-shirts than any other place in the word."
Harvey, a 56-year-old native of Jamaica, is a marine biologist whose realistic depictions of billfish garnered him an international following. His fishing T-shirts, worn by everyone from toddlers to retirees, depict the sea's top predators in action.
"Guy's art offers a truly unique perspective," said Overton, also an avid angler. "But the way you get that is by being in the water."
Harvey, who holds a doctorate in fisheries management from the University of the West Indies, pioneered a diving technique that allowed him to photograph free-swimming billfish in the open ocean. In the years that followed, Harvey became an ardent supporter of marine conservation, adding his name and fortune to a variety of causes.
The $3 million rebranding will include incorporating Guy Harvey art throughout the public and exterior spaces of the hotel.
Guy Harvey decor will also adorn guest rooms, which will get new carpet, paint, artwork and flat-screen TVs.
The hotel's gift shop will make way for a Guy Harvey Adventure Center, which will feature his signature clothing as well as other marine-related goods. The existing restaurant will get a facelift, and the owners plan to develop a second, upscale restaurant featuring the Guy Harvey brand.
The Outpost property will remain owned and managed by the TradeWinds, which will share privileges with its larger, sister property, the TradeWinds Island Grand. Guy Harvey Outpost has already rebranded two properties, one in Bimini and the other on Rum Cay in the Bahamas.
"We looked all over for our first U.S. location, and St. Pete Beach, with its access to both Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, seemed like the perfect location," said Mark Ellert, company president. "It is a marine research hub with more aquariums, universities, colleges than any other place in America."
Ellert and Overton said the new Guy Harvey Outpost plans to take an active role in the local fishing and marine studies scene.
"We hope to promote the whole lifestyle," Ellert added. "We think that this will quickly become a vacation destination. The Tampa Bay area has so much to offer. We are happy to be part of it."