Saturday, September 19, 2020

News of Marco Island Water Sports Sale Hits Marco Beach Like a Tsunami


Photo by Scott H. Shook | Captain Shawn Peters and mate/naturalist Sonia Schnitzius aboard Marco Water Sports’ 45’ catamaran, the Calusa Spirit. The legendary water sports company recently sold after 38 years on Marco Beach. The good news is that the current management and staff are staying on board.

News of the sale of Marco Water Sports—the longstanding enterprise of venerable beach entrepreneur Mark Bahr, hit Marco Beach like a tsunami as news spread along the beach via the coconut telegraph.

“The first few people I told on the beach I watched their jaws drop,” said the typically low-key Bahr.

Bahr is the son of one of Marco Island’s founding fathers, Neil Bahr—the marketing czar of the Deltona Corporation who is known as the “fourth Mackle Brother” for his immense contributions to the development and growth of the island.

Bahr has carved his own legacy on the island, taking his fledgling beach business in 1981 and building it into a multi-faceted company that, as Bahr likes to say, “rents fun.”

Over the decades Bahr has been called the “King of the Beach” because of the empire he has built along Marco Island’s 3.5-mile crescent beach. It is a title he would surely eschew. But Bahr has certainly made his mark on the beach.

Starting at the Marco Beach Hotel, a property his father promoted, Bahr has expanded his WaveRunner, parasailing, banana boat, eco-tour tour business through the years. Bahr’s staff currently numbers 55—one of the bigger employers on the island. Bahr also provides chair rentals for the JW Marriott, the Marriott Crystal Shores, the Hilton and the Surf Club. King of the beach, indeed.

After 38 years Bahr has decided to sell to the Hoffmann Family of Companies. But he is quick to emphasize that nothing is going to change at Marco Water Sports for the foreseeable future.

“I’m under contract as president for five years,” Bahr said. “The entire staff will stay.”

Bahr is very happy that his business is being sold to an enterprise like the Hoffman Family of Companies. David Hoffmann, who Bahr describes as very laid back and approachable, has taken Southwest Florida by storm.

“He is a great guy,” Bahr said. “He was looking for blue chip businesses in the area. It all came together very quickly.”

The Hoffmann Family of Companies has made a huge investment in the Naples/Marco/Ft. Myers area over the past decade. In addition to Marco Water Sports, they have purchased Hertz Arena, The Naples Princess, Everglades Excursions, Miss Naples, The Florida Everblades, Tacos & Tequila and many more well-known local businesses.

“We only invest in places that we like to visit,” Hoffmann said of his interest in the area.

Welcome to Marco Island, Mr. Hoffmann.

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