Stock Island Marina Village Keeps Guests and the Environment at the Forefront of its PrioritiesPublished on February 25, 2021
In the span of 10 short years, Stock Island Marina Village has made quite a name for itself. Situated just a few miles from the heart of Key West, the facility offers a wide range of amenities for transient boaters and residents alike. But it’s the relationship with the surrounding community that truly sets it apart and is just one of the many reasons why Stock Island Marina Village is the recipient of the Marina Dock Age 2020 large Marina of the Year award.
Years in the Making
Stock Island Marina Village came to fruition in 2011, with the purchase of 40 acres of waterfront property in Safe Harbor along Shrimp Road. Just three years later, in January 2014, Stock Island Marina Village celebrated its grand opening as the Florida Keys’ largest deepwater marina. At that time, the marina included 220 slips, two 900-foot landing piers splitting three basins, and two docking systems created to house a variety of guests including transient, long term, commercial, and charters.
In 2017, the second phase of the master plan was completed with the opening of the 100-room boutique hotel, The Perry Hotel Key West, plus the addition of two dockside restaurants and a fitness center. Two years later, a 10,000-square-foot expansion was added, including an event lawn with a raised stage, a second waterfront swimming pool, and a third restaurant. Two existing dog parks were also repositioned and 40 additional slips were installed.
Today, the marina offers 288 slips all serviced through state-of-the-art Bellingham concrete floating docks. “The physical and geographical location allows us to welcome vessels on our property up to 450 feet long,” said Troy Talpas, general manager of Stock Island Marina Village. “We also have the ability to offer pumpout services for every one of our slips.”
Boaters have access to a fuel dock, ship’s store, and dockside delivery and pickup. They are also able to take advantage of all the amenities and events available at Stock Island Marina Village. “We are adding more retail, dining and entertainment options, all in an effort to make the facility a one-stop shop,” Talpas said. “Our guests don’t have to leave the village. But we do offer complimentary shuttle service to downtown Key West for anyone who wants to experience everything the Florida Keys has to offer.”
Stock Island Marina Village is also home to one of the last livable communities in the Florida Keys, called Coconut Row. Residents occupy 63 slips at the marina, with each slip set up with Mediterranean mooring, wooden floating docks, and its own 10×10-foot outdoor living area. “The residents really add to the character and spirit of our property,” Talpas added.
Mindful of the Environment
From the moment of inception, the staff at Stock Island Marina Village took seriously its responsibility to protect the environment. The resort staff pulls 10,000 pounds of litter and trash from the waters annually. In addition, quarterly cleanups are held at the property, which are open to the public. Beyond the water, the staff joins forces with the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office and other community organizations to keep the mangroves that line Shrimp Road free of debris and litter. When new initiatives are implemented Stock Island management communicates through dockage agreements, email campaigns, and verbally to guests and team members.
The marina’s deepwater floating fuel dock, which is over 400 feet long with 10 pumps, is a popular stopping point for boaters visiting the marina, as well as those traveling to and from Cuba and the Bahamas. Marina staff makes sure there is always a full supply of booms and absorbent cloths available at all fueling locations in the event of a leak or spill. The heads of annual dockage rentals are also tested regularly to ensure there aren’t any leaks. Since the marina offers weekly pumpouts for all 288 slips, the waste is disposed directly into a dedicated sewer service that is supported through the community sewer system.
The facility’s shuttle service into town not only provides complementary transportation, it also reduces the number of vehicles on the local roads. If guests want to venture out on their own they are able to rent bikes, electric scooters, or an Arcimoto electric vehicle to explore Key West. These all-electric, three-wheeled Fun Utility Vehicles (FUVs) are one of the newest additions to Stock Island Marina Village. “People come here to fish, enjoy the water and area, and snorkel the amazing coral reefs,” Talpas said. “We are committed to being at the forefront of any environmental opportunities to lessen our impact to the waters of the Florida Keys.”
Changes in Operations
Prior to COVID-19, the marina and hotel were operating as separate entities. Plans were in place to eventually combine both portions of the business, but the pandemic forced management to speed up the transition. “The Florida Keys essentially shut down on March 23 of last year. Our hotel and restaurants were closed and, while we didn’t send the boaters who were docked at the marina away, we weren’t taking in any new boaters unless they were in dire need,” Talpas said.
With the marina full and the hotel empty the management at Stock Island Marina Village decided to move forward with combining operations. Today, all boaters and hotel guests check in at the front desk of the hotel. Talpas said the central location has led to better communication between staff and guests. “Now, boaters who have questions about a pumpout or hotel guests who are looking for information about events and boat charters all come to the same spot,” he added.
The merger of the two businesses also led to the cross training of employees. Marina and hotel staff now work together and share responsibilities. “It might have been an uphill climb in the beginning, but it has made a lot of sense from a business perspective. It has created synergy and pride among our staff because they were able to learn new systems and technology that not only made them more knowledgeable but it also helped streamline business practices,” Talpas said.
That synergy helped the facility get through the series of unexpected events in 2020. Just like the rest of the industry, the staff had to adapt to new cleaning and sanitizing protocols and essentially reinvent daily operations in order to get through the pandemic. When the hotel and restaurants reopened in June and new boaters began to arrive at the marina, the entire staff went through a new training program, which led to the creation of the Piece of Mind promise. This promise is a commitment to every guest of Stock Island Marina Village, to ensure they have a comfortable, clean and safe stay on the property, from the moment of arrival until departure.
Member of the Keys Community
Talpas believes that Piece of Mind promise transcends beyond the gates of Stock Island Marina Village. “We are connected to Key West and we owe a lot of our success to the community around us,” he said.
That success has led to a variety of community-involved events and sponsorships. Following Hurrican Irma in 2017, The Perry Hotel Key West housed people from the community for more than three months. The facility provides support for the school lunch program at nearby Gerald Adams Elementary and has partnered with Career Source, an organization that helps children graduate and obtain their diplomas. “We bring the students on board at the marina and hotel where they are able to work and learn skills. It allows us the opportunity to instill the beliefs that we have to help the community in the younger generation,” Talpas said.
In addition to plans for restarting many of the entertainment and community events that were cancelled or altered in 2020, Stock Island Marina Village is in the process of making additional improvements to the facility. Since WiFi is sporadic due to the resort’s location near the airport and naval base, fiber optic line is now being run through all the docks at the marina. Remodeling has also started at the Coral Lagoon building, which will soon be home to new retail shops, as well as a market, hair salon, barber shop and coffee shop. “Our marina is currently at 100% capacity and our hotel is at 75%,” Talpas said. “COVID-19 threw us a curveball, but we are optimistic for what is to come.”
Putting Software to Work
Verbal communication between staff and guests has been the key to success at Stock Island Marina Village. Talpas credits the relationships staff members develop with guests of the marina and hotel as one of the main reasons why customer satisfaction is so high at the facility. “Our team is in constant communication from the time of arrival, the day after arrival to answer any questions, and at pre-departure to ensure any open items are addressed,” he said. “We even supplement with email communication throughout a guest’s stay to provide necessary information about amenities, property map, offerings and hours at our restaurants and other entertainment areas.”
Facility operators have implemented the use of several software platforms in an effort to streamline specific business operations. The entire staff now communicates through the messaging platform Slack, which replaces separate email and text messaging systems. This allows managers and employees to communicate with one another in one app. “Adding Slack has been a fantastic addition for us,” Talpas said. “With everything happening at the front desk our staff members are able to send out messages to one another rather than relying on phone calls.”
Stock Island Marina Village has also partnered with Dockwa to manage all online slip reservations. Boaters can be anywhere in the world and easily reserve a slip at the Key West marina through the system. In addition, boaters visiting the marina with a Dockwa reservation now have the ability to charge anything they purchase at the facility to their vessel. This has been especially beneficial during the pandemic, when efforts to maintain social distance and limit close contact between staff and guests have been top priority. Talpas said this new amenity gives boaters the capability to charge all on-site property purchases including fuel, ice, bait, drinks, cabana rentals and more to the credit card on file.