NAVARRE BEACH — Navarre Beach has been without a hotel for almost 13 years.

The wait is almost over.

This spring, the 161-room Marriot SpringHill Suites hotel will open, changing the skyline and adding a much-needed overnight option for visitors.

General Manager Kristen Iversen said she anticipates a "late April" opening. Like the rest of Navarre Beach, she's looking forward to the grand opening when she can "combine work with pleasure."

"As a native of the Emerald Coast I spent most of my summers at the (Gulf Island) National Seashore," Iversen said. "There is nothing more tranquil for me than getting to hear the waves breaking along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. I am looking forward to sharing this setting and the experience it offers with our guests."

The old Holiday Inn, which was destroyed by Hurricane Ivan in 2004, is a place of memories for longtime locals and frequent visitors. It was also one of the locations for the filming of "Jaws 2." Iversen said the community has come out to show its support of the new hotel and share memories of the old one.

"Immediately after accepting the position of general manager, I started receiving phone calls from past guests that wanted to tell me all about their fond memories of the Holiday Inn and how they couldn’t wait to have a new hotel back on the beach," she said.  "While my team and I are looking forward to making our own memories, it makes the opportunity that much more exciting knowing the reputation that this hotel already has."

SpringHill Suites will have a new concept, Iversen said, but should be reminiscent of its predecessor. The lazy river and outdoor pool will return as well as more modern additions such as free Wi-Fi, Direct TV and Netflix packages and mobile check-in. It's like the Holiday Inn, "packaged in a new shell," Iversen said.

The hotel had hit some construction setbacks, from work delays during shorebird nesting season to redesigning the foundation.

"We encountered all of the old wood pilings — over 400 — that had to be jetted out of the ground and removed," Iversen said. "This required a complete redesign for the new pilings and foundation given the compromised soils. It was almost a three-month delay from the start."

The hotel also will provide some 50 jobs, including assistant general manager, front desk staff , housekeeping, maintenance and food and beverage.  Résumés can be sent to and interviews will begin next month.

Judy Morehead, president and CEO of the Navarre Beach Area Chamber of Commerce, said Springhill Suites will be a great addition to the local lodging options.

"We have great facilities inland, but if you wanted to be on the beach (before) you'd have to stay two to three nights at a condo," she said. "What I love about this is that it gives someone who just comes through the area and discovers Navarre Beach the option to stay overnight; people that drive over the causeway and think, 'Wow, I want to stay here.' Now they can."

As a Navarre Beach resident, Morehead said she looks forward to walking to the hotel's restaurant to grab a bite to eat. The conference space also will be an asset for businesses.

"The hotel has a lot of options for the community," she said.