MEXICO BEACH, Fla. (WMBB) — After more than three years of being damaged by the hurricane, the Driftwood Inn in Mexico Beach is on track to open back up soon.
“We’re still a Mom and Pops operation,” owner Tom Wood said. “I’m real proud of it. It was like someone dropped an atomic bomb in the middle of Mexico Beach and everything was gone. But it’s starting to build back and it’s building back better than it was.”
It will be the first hotel in Mexico Beach to reopen since the category five storm. It’s something the whole city is proud of after experiencing the heartbreak of hurricane Michael.
“This is like the beacon, the light is getting brighter and brighter at the end of the tunnel,” Mexico Beach Community Development Council President Kimberly Shoaf said. “We have continued to move forward and worked resiliently as a community.”
The Wood family opened the hotel decades ago. The building has been through a lot— even burning down in 1995.
Now, it’s built back up with 23 units ready to rent.
“It’s a little bit more modern, hopefully,” Wood said. “All of the rooms have paintings that I have done or paintings that I collected. I had a couple hundred birdhouses. They’re scattered all over. And sailboats, things that I’ve collected in the past.”
Shoaf said she appreciates the homage to the previous building.
“Even though it’s a new building with new paint and new windows and new furniture, it still has that charismatic charm that it’s always had and the Wood family made sure to incorporate that back in because it does mean so much for the community to have the Driftwood back,” she said.
The hotel has the only event center in Mexico Beach, holding up to 110 people.
“We cannot wait to show off this beautiful hotel to not only our residents but our wonderful visitors that continue to love Mexico Beach,” Shoaf said.
The hotel still has a few more finishing touches before reopening, but they plan to open its doors to the public in early June.