After closing for an extensive five-month renovation, the Sonesta Resort Hilton Head Island has officially reopened.
"The resort was stripped to the concrete and rebuilt," resort general manager Jay Wiendl said of the $30 million project that went on seven days a week under the guidance of three general contractors.
"We closed the doors Dec. 2, and the first hammer flew on Dec. 3," he said.
Some the resort's nearly 200 employees were on unpaid leave during the work but still received benefits, he said. Others were temporarily transferred to other Sonesta properties.
Ninety-six percent of the employees were retained. The resort now employs 220 -- 25 more than before because of the addition of a spa and to offer more service, he said.
The resort reopened last month, but a ribbon-cutting, hosted by the Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce, was held Thursday to officially mark the renovation's completion.
Room prices have increased, ranging from $100 to $350, depending on the season and room choice.
"We'll still have our value seasons," Wiendl said, adding that South Carolina residents receive a 20 percent discount. Spa and golf-package deals are also available.
The renovation is being touted by tourism leaders as the latest proof of an island renaissance that will spur the tourism economy.
It comes on the heels of a $30 million renovation at the Westin Hilton Head Island Resort & Spa. The town's other three beachfront hotels -- the Hilton Head Marriott Resort and Spa, The Beach House, and the Omni Hilton Head Oceanfront Resort -- have recently undergone or announced major renovations.
"They've done a fantastic job of capturing the essence of the Hilton Head Island brand," Charlie Clark, chamber spokeswoman, said of the Sonesta renovation. "Today's travelers have high expectations. They want a fresh, top-notch resort, and the service that goes with it. The Sonesta delivers on those expectations very well."
The beachfront resort was built in 1984 as a Marriott and later became the Crowne Plaza at Shipyard Plantation. Boston-based Sonesta took over ownership in April 2012, pledging a major renovation.
"It had that really dark, nautical feel before," Wiendl said.
The renovations include: