Unbelievable. Killer. The bomb. That’s how Development Partner Robert Rinke describes Portofino Island Resort.
We call it a Game Changer.
Development of the property began with a 12-page vision statement composed in 1995. Over the next 16 years, Rinke worked with Alan and Teri Levin to build the property into what it is today: a world-class resort encompassing five towers, a lifestyle center, tennis courts, a water taxi and more.
“There’s not a more successful real estate venture on the entire Gulf Coast,” says Rinke. “Alan (Levin) never turned down an idea to make Portofino better, never looked at the cost.”
The amenities at Portofino fall into five categories: health, fitness, recreation, relaxation and adventure. Included are spas, pools, massage tents, tennis courts, hot tubs, personal “beach butlers,” kayaks, paddleboards, sailboats, jet skis, a blow-up water park, bicycles, scooters—the list goes on and on.
“You can find some of these individual components on different properties,” says Rinke. “You just can’t get it all anywhere else.”
Portofino has done more for Pensacola Beach than just add real estate and amenities. It’s helped build Pensacola Beach as a whole.
Rinke and others have set up The Portofino Fund, which directs $500,000 a year in lease fees to Pensacola Beach for improvements.
“So far, the Portofino Fund has put $1 million in a waterline, paid $375,000 for…EDSA to come in and do a master plan for Pensacola Beach…and put $600,000 in landscaping.”
Perhaps the best place to view the improvements created by the Portofino Fund is from a Portofino condo.
“At Portofino, when you look at the layout, you have to go into the bathroom and shut the door to get rid of the view. Every bedroom in Portofino is on the water.”
Luxury is great and all, but it’s nothing without safety. That’s why Rinke and his partners went the extra mile to ensure the buildings could withstand the elements.
“Most condos are a box built with the cheapest components to meet code. We built all concrete exterior walls. It’s a whole different level of structure.”
That structure faced its first major test in Hurricane Ivan. And it passed.
“Portofino lost a few roof tiles and palm trees. Otherwise, we were golden.”
In the late 2000s, the resort would face another test: a storm not from Mother Nature, but from the U.S. housing market.
“Even though Portofino has incredible intrinsic value and incredible demand, people were losing our condos back to banks and doing short sales, because they had money elsewhere and were losing it.”
Prices for the units plummeted. But the resort averted the worst of the crisis thanks to Pensacola Beach’s development cap.
“When everybody else built tens of thousands of condos, Pensacola Beach couldn’t,” says Rinke. “We would’ve…but the cap stopped all that. We are coming back because we never could have that excess inventory.”
“I’m not saying prices are going to come back to where they were before the bust. But they’re not going to stay this low.”
No matter how quickly prices improve, Rinke still sees a future of growth for Portofino. He says that more people are moving in to live in the towers full time, and that rental occupancy is growing.
“Portofino is nowhere near as successful as it’s going to be in five years.”
Portofino Island Resort & Spa
10 Portofino Drive, Pensacola Beach