Tiki Central / Locating Tiki
Tahitian Cove Congress Inn, Naples, FL (hotel)
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Name:Tahitian Cove Congress Inn
The Tahitian Cove Congress Inn, located on Naples Bay, was built by Edward P. Schoenthaler and opened on June 4, 1964. It was a Tahitian / Polynesian style hotel that consisted of 114 rooms, 6 suites, 4 penthouses, 2 restaurants, 2 cocktail lounges, 4 gift shops and boat slips. It even had the classic kidney shaped pool. Here are some overall shots of the property.
Total construction costs were over $2 million. William Zimmerman was the architect. Gates Myers was the design firm in charge of the Polynesian motif inside and the exotic furnishings. There was also a new Coast Guard Auxiliary building built on the property in the same Tahitian style.
The restaurants were the Cove Restaurant, which sat 300 people,
and the Island Hut, which sat 150 and was located over the water.
One article described the lobby being "dominated by an authentic Chinese screen with bone and black teakwood trim" and another describes the colors of the rooms as being in the "hot, Tahitian tones of Gauguin, including absinthe greens, cobalt blues and shocking pinks." Here is an ad for its opening
and another ad for their "exotic dancer" from later that same year.
I'm not sure if the property had much actual tiki, but the Island Hut restaurant and Polynesian Island Bar inside was a different story. It served Polynesian food and drinks and the motif was described as Tahitian with handwoven peeled bamboo on the walls, hexagonal bar, and South Pacific fishnets with hundreds of white and amber lights hanging from the ceilings. Both the bar and lounge had tikis that went from floor to ceiling all around which were carved by R. H. Heinmiller, a widely known primitive art decorator and sculptor of Hollywood, FL. There was also large poles of bamboo all around and tables were teak. Entrance to the bar was over 3 footbridges which were also guarded by a seven foot tiki. Terry Therriault of Gates Myers designed the interior.
Kind of funny, but they pushed to get everything open in time for a huge Shriner convention that was coming to Naples that weekend.
It sounds like business was never good enough. The city had closed 8th Ave for sewer and dredging projects, which was the main street to the hotel, and the only way to get there was a hard to find back way. By the end of 1964 someone was already trying to foreclose on them for not paying a $350,000 mortgage. They only lasted 5 years, and then the property was sold and became just the Cove Inn. Here's a postcard I found on ebay, but i think it is later after they lost the Tahitian part.
All of the buildings are still there, and it is still the Cove Inn. If you look at the street view on google maps, you can drive along side the hotel, coast guard and Island Hut buildings. You can't make out much of the Island Hut building on there because a freakin' delivery truck is blocking most of it! It is now called The Boat House on Naples Bay.
Wow! What was it with Florida and the "Tahitian" moniker? Definitely proves the concept of POLYNESIAN pop (culture), beyond the Hawaiian influence that was more a West Coast thing.
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