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Ocean Plaza Beach Resort - Press Room
Ocean Plaza Owner Harry Spirides Releases Book on Hotel Tybee
All of author’s profits going to charitable cause. One hundred years ago Tybee Island’s Hotel Tybee was known as the “Finest resort between Atlantic City and Miami on the Atlantic Coast.” It was originally built in 1889, and it set the standard for resorts across the United States. Hotel Tybee enjoyed a rich and colorful history spanning over seven decades. Most of that hotel was torn down in 1961. It was located on Tybee Island between 14th and 15th Streets, where today’s Ocean Plaza Beach Resort is located. It served the public by hosting memorable vacations, conventions, and social events for more than 70 years. After three years of researching and writing, Tybee Island author Harry Spirides officially released his book Hotel Tybee through a book signing event which was held at Barnes & Noble bookstore in Oglethorpe Mall on April 13th. The newest book in Arcadia Publishing’s Images of America series Hotel Tybee showcases the history of Tybee Island as a seaside beach resort destination by telling the fascinating story of Hotel Tybee. This book, through almost 200 vintage images, takes readers on a nostalgic visual journey back in time through seven decades of Hotel Tybee’s history. The book begins with Savannah businessman Daniel Purse owning most of undeveloped Tybee Island with the intention of transforming it into a seaside resort destination. In the 1880s, there were no roads to the island so Purse built a railroad connecting Tybee to Savannah. This resulted in thousands of new tourists flocking to Tybee’s beautiful beaches, though most could not stay overnight because of the lack of lodging accommodations. Seeing a great business opportunity, Herman Myers, then president of Savannah National Bank and future five term mayor of the City of Savannah, built Hotel Tybee. The book also tells how Hotel Tybee witnessed hurricanes, wars, a riot, murder, gambling, numerous social events, Prohibition, and the Great Depression. Author Harry Spirides’ family now owns the land where Hotel Tybee once stood. It is where Ocean Plaza Beach Resort is located today. The Spirides family has operated businesses in Tybee Island's downtown commercial district for the past 70 years. Harry Spirides’ great uncle George Leonidas Spirides was the last general manager of Hotel Tybee, and his father George Harry Spirides was a maintenance man at Hotel Tybee before it was torn down. George Harry Spirides later bought the property upon which he built today’s Ocean Plaza Beach Resort. Author Harry Spirides as a child literally grew up at that property, and he has been working there for the past 30 years. Today, he is chief executive officer of his family’s hotel business. All of Spirides’ profits from the sale of his book will be donated to restoring Tybee Island’s Tybee Post Theater into a vibrant community performing arts and cultural center. When asked why he wrote his book Spirides replies, “I want to document the history of this grand old hotel before this information is lost forever, plus I think it could be an effective way to raise money for a good cause.” Barnes & Noble community relations manager Peter Del Sol says, “Harry Spirides’ book Hotel Tybee is a great selling book with lots of interest from first time visitors to Savannah as well as the locals. It is a constant seller here at Barnes & Noble.” Harry Spirides graduated from Benedictine Military High School in Savannah. He holds a bachelor of science degree in hospitality administration from Florida State University and a master of business administration degree from Mercer University. A military veteran, Spirides proudly served this country as a U.S. Coast Guard officer. He served three years active duty and eight years reserve duty. He separated from the service with an honorable discharge in 2008. Copies of Spirides’ book Hotel Tybee are available for purchase at Barnes & Noble Booksellers, Oglethorpe Mall in Savannah and on Tybee Island at the Tybee Island Lighthouse gift shop and at Tybee Island’s American Legion Post as well as several other shops on Tybee Island. The book may also be purchased online at www.arcadiapublishing.com. Click on the below web link to read Savannah Morning Newspaper's article on Hotel Tybee. http://savannahnow.com/accent/2013-03-07/island-hopping-trip-back-hotel-tybee Read More
With Donation Ocean Plaza Resort settles case with Department of Natural Resources
The purpose of this press release is to announce a settlement has been reached in the Georgia Department of Natural Resources' (DNR) investigation of the Ocean Plaza Beach Resort and its owner Harry Spirides for moving sand in a sand dune area that was migrating toward and in some places covering a handicapped accessible, wooden sand dune crossover walkway in front of the Ocean Plaza Beach Resort, located on Tybee Island, GA. Where sand covered the walkway it was obstructing beach access for Ocean Plaza’s disabled hotel guests and guests with small children in strollers. In the settlement, Ocean Plaza Resort and its owner Harry Spirides, without admitting any violation of law, agree to make a $10,000 charitable donation to the Tybee Island Marine Science Center's Sidewalk to the Sea program and also plant sea oats in the area where the sand dune disturbance occurred. Sidewalk to the Sea provides educational field trips to the seashore for Savannah’s inner city elementary school students, many of which have never before seen the ocean. Ocean Plaza Resort's donation will completely fund a fun and educational trip to Tybee Island's beaches for more than 800 students and teachers from Shuman Elementary School in Savannah. Only sea oat replanting, and no movement of sand, was needed to restore the disturbed area, because the dune had already regenerated itself. Harry Spirides, owner & chief executive officer of Ocean Plaza Beach Resort, said back in March hotel workers were clearing sand from the handicapped-accessible walkway to and from the beach when they lowered the height of an adjacent sand dune that was continuously spilling over onto the walkway. “We had absolutely no ill intent here—our motivation was simply to improve public access to the beach,” Spirides said. “In the future we will receive appropriate clearance from the DNR before we take any steps to clear the walkway. We at Ocean Plaza Resort fully support preserving the natural beauty of the beach, and we have supported ecology based organizations and events for years.” For several weeks Spirides has been working cooperatively with DNR to reach a mutually-agreeable solution to the sand moving event. Spirides states he is pleased with the outcome. “No animals or their habitats were harmed during this sand moving project, and nothing beyond simple hand shovels were used. No sand was removed from the dune. The sand was just redistributed to each side of the dune. Most of the sand dune has grown back, and Ocean Plaza Resort is committed to restoring any disturbed vegetation to its original condition and will be working with DNR over the next couple months to accomplish this goal,” says Spirides. Spirides said he requested that he be allowed to make this donation to settle this case because he believes that Sidewalk to the Sea is a very worthwhile and innovative program that provides inner city school children with the opportunity to visit and learn about the beach and its ecosystems which they would never have otherwise had. Spirides says, “Ocean Plaza Beach Resort is proud to support this little known but very worthwhile program to bring inner city school children to the seashore and teach them all about our coastal ecology and geography. I challenge other companies to adopt a school through the Sidewalk to the Sea program. We have adopted Shuman Elementary School.” Spirides, whose family has owned and managed businesses in Tybee Island's downtown commercial district for the past 70 years and who himself has worked at the resort for more than 30 years, says he would like to see the City of Tybee Island adopt an ongoing active beach management plan to maintain the beach between beach renourishments which occur approximately every 7 years. Spirides explains, "This part of the beach is a very dynamic area, and the millions of tons of sand which have been deposited on the beach by past beach renourishment projects is constantly moving around and must be managed by a formal plan.” He says to deposit millions of tons of sand on the beach and then to not manage or maintain it and let it blow around in the wind and completely cover up expensive dune crossover walkways which have been paid for by taxpayer dollars is financially irresponsible. Spirides states, “Dumping sand on the beach is only half of the process. You have to manage that sand through an ongoing active beach management plan. Such plans are common and have provisions in them to move windblown sand from areas of excess sand accumulation to areas of sand scarcity, between beach renourishment projects. That is what many other beachside communities around the country do. Having an ongoing active beach management plan would allow Tybee Island's beaches to go for longer periods of time (years) between very costly ocean dredge-based beach renourishments, and in these days of deep government budget cuts that would be a good thing.” Read More