GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - The City of Gulfport had reason to celebrate Wednesday morning at the location of its newest hotel. The Island View Casino Resort held a ribbon cutting ceremony for its Beach Tower expansion.
The excitement could be felt all throughout the newly renovated Island View Beach Tower. City and state leaders, along with other dignitaries, mingled through the brand new, high-end finishes of the hotel tower.
"It's a game changer," said Gulfport Mayor Billy Hewes.
Gov. Phil Bryant said this expansion showed him that the gulf is making a healthy recovery.
"We're not the redneck riviera anymore. This is a world-class resort destination," said Bryant.
He was glad to see more family-friendly attractions and destinations calling the Coast home.
"You see that happening now. I hope we'll be talking about others in the very near future," said Bryant.
According to Resort Vice President and General Counsel Cathy Mackenzie, this is just the beginning.
"It's a great day," Mackenzie said.
It made her happy to see the progress a decade of hard work can bring. The property was acquired by the Island View in 2006.
Mackenzie says back then, it wasn't necessarily in the plans to open the hotel tower in the year of the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.
"Maybe that's just a happy coincidence, but I think it's a really historic moment in the complete restoration," said Mackenzie.
Those who saw the project to completion said seeing the doors open gave a lot of value to their efforts. The 270,000-square-foot, 405-room hotel renovation managed to stay within its $58 million budget.
To Vice President of Food, Beverage, and Hotel Ed Layton, it seems that no expense was spared.
"In some regards, it almost feels like we overdid it, and it's always nice to be impressed by the quality of work that everybody did here on the project," said Layton.
The new Beach Tower expansion is the third phase of the Island View Casino Resort. It features seven food and beverage outlets, a pool and spa, fitness center, beach-themed boutique and much more. The grand opening is set for Friday, May 1.