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Longboat Key Wednesday, Aug. 1, 2018 1 year ago

Colony guests: Relaxed elegance drew people in, brought them back

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While each guest had unique experiences, it was the community atmosphere that kept people coming back, former guests say.
by: Katie Johns and Bret Hauff

Thousands of guests stayed at The Colony Beach & Tennis Resort. While each had their own experiences, it was the community atmosphere that kept people coming back, former visitors say.  

When Larry Greenspon arrived at the Colony for the first time in the 1970s, he thought he had died and gone to heaven.

He had just graduated college and was just beginning to play tennis.

Greenspon recalled watching locals ride their bikes to the Colony to fill in at tennis matches when it was needed. This was when he was in his mid-20s, and he said to himself “one of these days I want to be able to ride my bike to the Colony and play tennis.”

That happened for him in 1992. While in Cape Coral, Greenspon’s friend said he was moving to Longboat Key, and Greenspon tagged along, remembering it as a tennis mecca.

To Greenspon, Longboat was home to an inordinate amount of senior tennis players, and he credits that to The Colony.

“I think Longboat Key would not be the same as it is now if it weren’t for The Colony,” Greenspon said. “It brought a lot of people there. Who had heard of Longboat Key at the time? I mean, nobody went to the north end of Longboat Key. Nobody went up there. It was all at the south end.”

Greg Rusovich first visited the Colony as a child — so when he had children of his own, he couldn’t help but give them the same experience.

“Our kids grew up there,” Rusovich said.

It was the “casual elegance” of the resort that attracted Rusovich to the property, a family-like atmosphere that made the Colony a great place to bring children.

One particular memory in this “home away from home” that Rusovich had was when his son Nick caught a pompano on the pier on the Colony beach.

“Nick gets the pompano off the hook and runs straight into the Colony kitchen, flops the pompano down in front of the chef,” Rusovich said “ Where else can you have that kind of experience — a kid catches a fish on the pier and can run directly into the kitchen.”

What made the Colony special to Rusovich and his family were the staff that worked there — they made it feel like home, he said.

“Everyone knew you, everyone wanted to serve you, everyone wanted to help you,” Rusovich said. “The openness, the warmth of the staff, it was casually elegant.”

Rene Mueller and his family first visited the Colony while staying at the Resort at Longboat Key Club.

The Swiss-native, his wife and triplets, then 18 months old, were sitting by the Key Club pool when a man approached him and asked him to clothe his children, who had stripped and were running around the pool naked.

“That was when I said, ‘here is the bathing suit, why don’t you go dress them yourself,’ ” Mueller said.  

Mueller and his wife visited the Colony’s Monkey Bar that evening when they recounted the story to Murf Klauber, the proprietor of the resort.

“Dr. Klauber said if some guests would have complained about it then he would have asked the guests to check out and leave,” Mueller said. “So Murf told us everything about the Colony and the next day we moved in. We came back for 16 years.”

What made the place so special for Mueller was the way the resort had been run — like a family.

“This was owner run, the owner was there and he was taking always full responsibility for anything that happened,” Mueller said. “Everybody took responsibility, that’s what made this place a free space especially on Longboat Key.”

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