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Adam Beckstead Interview

As It Should Be Podcast

Release Date: 05/20/2019

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Palm Island Resort, located on Florida’s Southwest Gulf Coast, is the state’s only true-out island resort. There are no bridges or causeways to the island, which ensures a relaxed, tropical vacation setting. The island resort encompasses a two-mile portion of private, pristine beaches on the northern end of Palm Island. Guests travel to the island via car ferry and park their car in our island parking area. Cars are not allowed in the resort.

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Palm Island Resort Offers Travelers a Taste of Old Florida

Palm Island Resort, located on Florida’s Southwest Gulf Coast, is the state’s only true-out island resort. There are no bridges or causeways to the island, which ensures a relaxed, tropical vacation setting. The island resort encompasses a two-mile portion of private, pristine beaches on the northern end of Palm Island. Guests travel to the island via car ferry and park their car in our island parking area. Cars are not allowed in the resort. Transportation is provided by our bell staff and golf carts are also available for rent for registered guests. The resort was the vision of the late Dean Beckstead, a developer whose son Adam is now the President and CEO of Palm Island Resort. 

What you’ll learn in this episode:

*Dean’s brother Garfield came to Florida in 1976 to launch the Useppa Island Club, located near the northern end of Pine Island Sound in Lee County, FL. In 1979, he invited Dean to leave his hometown of Cincinnati to help Garfield restore Useppa Island to its former glory

*Dean’s Background: Graduate of the University of North Dakota with an engineering degree. Worked for an engineering firm that built the Minuteman nuclear silos in ND. Spent many years working for GE in various locations, including Louisville, Cincinnati, Oakland and North Carolina.

*Garfield and Dean developed a new property called the Palm Island Resort, 45 minutes north of Useppa by boat. The goal was to have it open to the public and to be a place where people could enjoy condo life and also live in single family homes

*Before the Becksteads created the resort, the island just had single family homes, and a lot of sand and palm trees

*Useppa Island was in operation in the early part of the 20th Century and into the 1940’s. A man named Barron Collier bought the island in 1911 and developed the resort there. It was the epitome of old Florida. In creating the Palm Island Resort, the Becksteads were inspired by the Old Florida aesthetic Useppa Island Club. That place hosted everyone from Shirley Temple to President Roosevelt

*In the early days, Garfield was in charge of both resorts and Dean reported to him. Later in life they divested and Garfield remained with Useppa and Dean took over as sole operator of the Palm Island Resort

*In addition to working for GE and Centro in Cincinnati, Dean went to night school to earn a master’s in business from Xavier University

*In the early days, Dean and Garfield faced resistance from locals who had lived on Palm Island for decades. There were also many environmental hurdles to clear, which they achieved when the Audubon Society did a report on the property in the 80s. The resort has maintained the environmental integrity of the island, including the habitats for turtles, birds and other creatures that were indigenous to these barrier islands. Another challenge was overcoming a tanking market for condos in the U.S. during the 80s. This led to there being more single family homes than the brothers first envisioned. In the spring of ’83, they faced another hurdle after they had several buildings completed and someone burned them to the ground

*One characteristic Dean and Garfield shared was their determination to see things through once they decided on a course of action. When they had their vision, it was set in stone. Adam says his dad would not have done one thing differently

*Dean was well known in the community for giving back and donating money, often without public recognition. Adam is carrying on the family’s long tradition of holding an annual YMCA fundraiser that helps feed kids during the summer and helps keep programs open for people of all ages. Dean once gave away $50,000 on year, which ruffled the feathers of his business partners. He also donated to the Conservancy and other non-profit natural organizations. He gave back mostly to individuals, always wanting to help people in this community of Charlotte County, FL

*Adam says Dean wanted his legacy to be that of a humble, respectful person who gave back and left the community in better shape than when he first found it in the late 70’s. He wanted to leave something behind which would impact the lives of people. To date, hundreds of thousands have been touched by either vacationing or owning a property on the resort or just casually enjoying the area developed by Dean

Resource:

https://palmisland.com/