Gulf view history
Built to last, the Gulf View continues to pass the test of time.
In 1966 Mr. Ben D’Ascanio along with his wife Irma built, what is now known as the Gulf View Waterfront Resort. The first building was their residence and what is now know as the Guest Building was originally their furniture business. By about 1970 the furniture business was converted into apartments and called Gulf View Motel and Apartments. The pool was also completed in 1970. The D’Ascanio’s ran the motel for a few years until Irma became ill. At that time they decided to sell and in the next two decades the Gulf View would change hands multiple times.
It was 1995 when Chuck and Susan Horvat decided to depart from Corporate America and make a broad leap into the life of innkeeping. They pulled up their roots in Illinois and purchased the Gulf View Motel. With a lot of hard work and with the help of family and friends, they began remodeling apartments many of which had never had air conditioning, room phones, televisions, etc. They also added the third floor to the main building in order to expand their residence. Chuck had the vision of creating a small tropical island retreat, within the island and began transforming the once predominantly gravel landscape into a lush tropical paradise including tiki huts, hammocks, a sandy area right on the Gulf, aviaries and also providing canoes, kayaks and paddle boats for their guests to use.
Wilma the witch lands in the Keys.
2005 was a year that produced some 15 hurricanes that rewrote the record books. “Wilma the Witch” as named by locals, hit the Keys on October 25th nearing the end of the annual hurricane season and brought with it an 8 foot storm surge that washed out 6 of the 11 rooms at the Gulf View. Fortunately, the buildings structures were intact as they were constructed of block and reinforced concrete, but most everything else was a total loss.
Chuck’s son Mike, his wife Stephanie and Jack & Casey, their 8 month old twins, already had plans to visit in November of that year, but decided to come in early to help with the clean up. It wasn’t long after their arrival and after witnessing the extent of the damage that they decided to stay. Mike, a contractor/landscape designer in California was eager to contribute his ideas and experience into the rebuild. Stephanie would leave nursing to raise their twins and begin to help manage housekeeping and assist with front desk duties.
September of 2008 Chuck passed away at the young age of 66. His vision of this Florida Keys “mom and pop resort”, a place where people could take a step back to a simpler time, away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and enjoy his little piece of paradise, lives on.
Hurricane Irma 2017
Hurricane Irma was the first major hurricane since Wilma. It caused widespread damage and was the strongest storm on record to exist in the open Atlantic region. Unlike Wilma which came around the gulf side causing mainly flooding, the brunt of Irma hit the Atlantic side with storm surge and 130 mile an hour winds, destroying homes and businesses. The Gulf View Resort only suffered minor damage. “We lost a lot of trees, gutters and railings but we did not get a storm surge. The other small businesses in our area were not so lucky. The weeks and months that followed were a true test to the strength of our community. Neighbors helping neighbors everybody working together to restore our great town.”-Mike Horvat
The Gulf View Waterfront Resort is still owned by Susan, who is now remarried to George Nugent. Together with Mike and Stephanie they all work hard to preserve this small piece of old Florida and will continue to provide superior hospitality for years and generations to come.