NEW PORT RICHEY — A project long in the making is finally nearing completion. It may have hit a few road bumps, like the beginning of COVID-19 in 2020, then shortages in items such as lumber and materials, but New Port Richey residents are just as excited to see the day come when the Hacienda Hotel opens its doors for good.
“That’s probably the coolest part of this, seeing how excited everyone is,” said Dylan Gamez, marketing and public relations manager. “Everyone is dying to get in here, they want to be a part of it. We’ve gotten a lot of support from the community. We’re excited to work with local businesses to try and incorporate as many things as we can. The ice cream shop wants to do an ice cream and the coffee shop wants to do a Hacienda blend.”
Inside the Hacienda, everything is coming together now that the heavy lifting is nearing completion. About 85 percent of the wood had to be redone and now it’s down to the finishing touches like putting down carpeting. Original pieces of the 1927 hotel remain as part of its history but will be brought back to life thanks to careful restoration. If you look at the interior corbels, light fixtures such as three large chandeliers, the fountain outside, these are all part of the Hacienda’s history from its hotel days.
In the hotel’s lobby, a grand fireplace will be lit by gas but it’s the design surrounding the fire that captures Florida native wildlife like hound dogs and snakes. Gamez pointed out the exterior of the hotel was even inspired by mullets jumping out of the nearby Cotee River.
“This detailing is unique to the Hacienda, and it’s a nice shout out to the local scene,” Gamez said.
The hotel will feature 40 rooms and was bought by Jim Gunderson in 2018. Gunderson restored and runs the Lakeside Inn in Mount Dora, which opened its doors in 1883. The challenge with the Hacienda Hotel, Gamez said, is that unlike the Lakeside Inn, the Hacienda was closed for a period of time.
The lobby will stretch out into a bar and dining area, with a joining Matador room to be used for special events or additional seating. Outside seating will be available and guests will be able to enjoy the surrounding views of Sims Park, which will include a brick pathway to the park. Bricks can still be purchased for $100 that will inscribe the names of people or businesses.
The pink exterior is reminiscent of a time when Florida pink was popular among grand hotels such as the Don CeSar and Vinoy. By the Hacienda’s entrance is New Port Richey’s walk of fame, which includes names like June Carter and Johnny Cash to George Sims.
“With so many businesses now opening up you can see the need for a hotel downtown even more now,” Gamez said. “There are so many great restaurants and places to visit that you can walk to.”
Gamez said the hotel hopes to start taking bookings closer to March, as well as hiring a staff of 40 to 50 employees.