A sailing business that has dockage space at Pink Shell Resort & Marina captured one of seven tourism awards at the fourth annual Celebration of Business & Tourism Chrysalis Awards Luncheon and Trade Show at Harborside Event Center in Downtown Fort Myers Thursday.
Offshore Sailing School, headquartered at 16731 McGregor Boulevard, picked up the Sales & Marketing award among 12 nominees, including Lahaina Island Accommodations of Fort Myers Beach. The other seven award recipients were Lee Sar (Business Development); Friends of Six-Mile Cypress Slough (Eco-innovation); Broadway Palm Dinner Theater (Cultural Achievement); The Minnesota Twins (Sports); The Foundation of Lee County Public Schools (Education); and Goodwill Industries of Southwest Florida (Sustainability).
Offshore Sailing School has eight locations from New Jersey to British Virgin Islands and has been in business since 1964, teaching courses to more than 130,000 active vacationers. A large amount of those courses have been taught at Pink Shell and Captiva's South Seas Island Resort. It is regarded as the largest and most respective sailing school in the U.S.
Owners Doris and Steve Colgate (second and third from left) received the prestigious Sales & Marketing award at the fourth annual Celebration of Business & Tourism Chrysalis Awards Luncheon and Trade Show at Harborside Event Center last Thursday.
"This is wonderful. We work very hard at it and have a great staff," said Doris Colgate, president and CEO of Offshore Sailing School. "It's nice to know that we are doing a good job in bringing people into the Lee County area. The neat thing is that we were surrounded by all of our peers. (Pink Shell Director of Marketing) Ellis Etter was there from the resort."
Steve Colgate, Doris' husband, said Offshore Sailing School moved to the Pink Shell location right after Hurricane Charley in 2004. It was a gracious act from the Beach resort/marina.
"Charley wiped us out at South Seas, and didn't reopen for two years," Steve said. "We had people coming in from all over the country for Fantasy Sail Weekend. We'd been donating 10 boats for their use and, after Charley, we had one boat that was operational. We called up the Pink Shell and they invited us to come down (after they cleaned up the mess caused from the storm). Since then, we've been at the Pink Shell too."
"They are great to work with," added Doris.
Fantasy Sail Weekend is part of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society outreach program that features a Leukemia Cup regatta fundraiser. This year, the event will be held at South Seas.
The Colgates are big supporters of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
"We try to do as much as we can for our industry and for the tourism industry in general. We are always out there talking about how great this area is, how much you can learn and what a great vacation you can have," Doris said during a prepared ceremony video speech.
Offshore Sailing School holds regular classes at the Pink Shell with their on-site catamaran and Colgate 26 daysailer sailboat, including beginning course, performance courses and cruising live-aboard courses as well as the Catamaran Live Aboard Navigation course. A past issue of Southern Living Magazine listed Offshore Sailing School lessons as one of the top 19 gifts for the holidays.
"You can a two-day introductory program or three days will get you certification," said Doris. "Five half-days also gives you the same certification and allows you more time to enjoy the resort."
The Cogates are happy with their providing locations. Next year, the business turns 50 years old.
"We are very pleased that we found this area of the world," said Doris. "We've established great relationships with South Seas and Pink Shell. They are very different resorts and catered to different types of families. We are really excited to have the both of them."
The Thursday awards ceremony also recognized the Junonia Award, a Lee County Visitor & Convention award that recognize individuals in tourism who have demonstrated unique capabilities, leadership, commitment, and dedication throughout the local tourism community. Fort Myers resident John Naylor of The Naylor Group was the 2013 recipient, three years after the Colgates took home the same award. Other past recipients include recently deceased Roxie Smith and Fran Myers, both Beach residents who have been very instrumental in the Lee County tourism industry.
"The Chrysalis Awards signify the development of a partnership between the business and tourism communities," Lee VCB Executive Director Tamara Pigott. "By partnering, we work together to help the business community add to its awareness of the tourism industry, and help tourism partners to better understand the needs of non-hospitality businesses. This collaboration will create stronger resources for the good of our diverse communities and destination.
The event is also part of the VCB's year-round Team Tourism program, which recognizes the value of tourism and the community teamwork involved in maintaining and enhancing tourism as a major economic engine for the county.