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Nov 22 2017

Shangri-La Springs continues post-hurricane renovations
Shangri-La Springs, a historic property in downtown Bonita Springs, has resumed its scheduled renovations following the effects of Hurricane Irma.

The property is currently undergoing interior renovations to its existing hotel rooms and an expansion of its dining room and kitchen. The Spa at Shangri- La Springs will remain open during the renovation and the on-site fitness programs will return on Dec. 14. The organic restaurant and full-service boutique hotel are slated to open in 2018.

During the renovation, the property will continue venue rentals for weddings and private events.

The Shangri-La Springs, a historic resort in downtown Bonita Springs seen on Sept. 19, 2017, did not sustain damage to its building following Hurricane Irma.
(Photo: Patrick Riley/Naples Daily News)
Sep 19 2017

Bonita Springs' Shangri-La resort, Buffalo Chips restaurant weather Hurricane Irma
Although parts of Bonita Springs remained flooded Tuesday — more than a week after Hurricane Irma roared across Southwest Florida — some of the city's venerable institutions weathered the storm.

The Shangri-La Springs, a historic resort in downtown Bonita Springs that was built in 1921, sustained "zero damage" to its building, General Manager Lee Bellamy said, and the property's two 80-year-old Mysore fig trees will pull through, too.

"They just need to get cleaned up," Bellamy said of the famous trees, which tower over the property's courtyard and had some of their mighty branches mangled by the powerful winds.

"They're going to be fine. ... Didn't damage the root system at all."

The giant Mysore fig trees are two of only four in all of Southwest Florida, said John Domanski, the property's facilities and maintenance manager.

That number grew even smaller after the ferocious hurricane uprooted a large Mysore fig tree on the property of the Edison & Ford Winter Estates in Fort Myers. Another — bigger — Mysore fig tree at the Estates survived the storm.

"These are pretty strong trees," Domanski said.

A recently caught lionfish | Kevin Lollar
May 19 2017

Lionfish Pervade Waters Off Florida's Coasts
Saturday is "Lionfish Awareness and Removal Day" in Florida. Lionfish are an invasive species off Florida's coasts. People in southwest Florida are studying the fish's impact and others are helping to keep the invasive species' population under control.

Sometime in the 1980s, a boat coming somewhere from the Indo-Pacific had lionfish onboard. That's how they ended up in the waters off Florida where they don't belong. They’re white with red stripes, and have eighteen hypodermic-like needle-sharp venomous spines on their fins. They're the kind of fish you see in aquariums.

They’re pretty fish. But, as Florida Gulf Coast University marine biologist Mike Parsons said, their impact on the waters off Florida’s coasts, where they’re not supposed to be, has been anything but pretty.

Eddie Rose
Instructor Eddie Rose strikes a typical Qi Gong pose at Shangri-La Springs. Staff |
Apr 1 2017

Qi Gong’s four principles said to unlock the unconscious self
When Eddie Rose was 19 years old in 1977, he was already a black belt in martial arts. by James Hilton. He was young, strong, wired, and in the best shape of his life. Then, he met the man who would teach him Qi Gong (pronounced CHEEKung), the 5,000-year-old Chinese health and spiritual practice that integrates physical postures, breathing and meditation.

At first, Rose used Qi Gong to stay in shape. For him, it was just another martial art to master. “What really changed it all for me, though,” says Rose, “is the fact that I got sick. I got really sick.” While working as a police officer, his colon ruptured. He developed peritonitis and his organs began to fail, requiring removal of a part of his colon. He was pumped full of so many antibiotics that, had he required more, the medications could have killed him.

Luckily, he survived. Says Rose, “Medical science saved my life. Eastern medicine helped me heal my body and my mind.” Now he teaches Qi Gong. Using the four principles of the practice – mind, breath, movement and vibration – Rose teaches his students to apply the healing effects of Qi Gong to their everyday lives and to be more mindful of themselves. The idea, he says, is to master the principles so that you can tap into the next level of the self.

Mar 19 2017

Spotlight on Shangri-La Springs
Ghostbird Theatre Company’s next production will be held at Shangri-La Springs April 27-29. It’s called No. 27 and was written specifically for the location by Ghostbird co-founder Katelyn Gravel and FGCU Theatre Professor Barry Cavin. Shangri-La Springs is one of the most historic spots in all of Bonita Springs. The Mission-style structure was formerly a hotel, built in 1921 by the family of Fort Myers merchant, banker and developer Harvie Heitman on 8.1 acres of land in the heart of what is now Old Bonita. The family was developing property to the west and the 25-room Heitman Hotel provided potential buyers a place to stay while their new homes were constructed. The natural Shangri-La Springs Bonita spring for which the town is named is located on the grounds and flows into Oak Creek.

Mar-Apr 2017

Paradise Found in Bonita Springs
You may be familiar with the fictional paradise first described in the 1933 novel, Lost Horizon by James Hilton. Those who lived there enjoyed a carefree, harmonious existence and virtual immortality. Nestled on 8.5 acres between Tamiami Trail and Old 41 (thanks to a recently completed makeover, now known as Historic Old 41), Shangri-La Springs Resort in Bonita Springs has been busy living up to the name, quietly implementing a major restoration of its buildings and grounds over the past number of years. Upgrades are nearing completion and the schedule of events, classes and goings-on is staggering. From yoga, art and dance to healing arts and spa services, there’s something for everyone in search of rejuvenation. It’s also becoming quite the popular setting for weddings and private events. As General Manager and Artistic Director Zawi Borsa puts it, “It’s about bringing everybody together and allowing this property to give back to the community in general.”

From the street, the sign beckons. Turning into the property you instantly begin to catch the vibe. The majestic Great House greets guests out front. Built in 1921 by the Heitman family, the Great House was originally a 25-room hotel designed to house potential buyers of nearby property that they were developing. It was expanded to 50 rooms by a subsequent owner, Walter Mack of the Cadillac family. Proprietors that have followed, right up to the present, have been more interested in developing Shangri-La Springs as a health resort. Among the Great House offerings, says Zawi, are live painting, lunch and dinner service, a bar, and gift shop. There’s also live music.

Feb 8 2017

Children's behavorial health services critical for area
We are so fortunate to live in the thriving and generous community of Southwest Florida. What we sometimes overlook is that there are over 230,000 children living in the area between Tampa and Miami, and many of them are not thriving today. Many of our local children struggle with behavioral health issues such as ADHD, autism, bipolar disorder, depression, eating disorders or drug and alcohol abuse, among others.

Until now, behavioral health services for children in our community have taken a back seat.

With the new Golisano Children's Hospital of Southwest FL opening this spring, a group of concerned volunteers have started a pediatric behavioral health initiative called Kids' Minds Matter — Voices for Behavioral Health at Golisano Children's Hospital. The goal of Kids' Minds Matter is to raise awareness in the community about the need for behavioral healthcare for children and to raise funds that will enable Golisano Children's Hospital to begin providing more comprehensive outpatient behavioral healthcare to the many children in our community.

Feb 8 2017

Celebrate Valentine's Day the Southwest Florida way
When it comes to romance, our area has all the ingredients for an outstanding Valentine's Day.
Take the day to go island hopping. Indulge in a sunset cocktail. Count the dolphins. Escape to a deserted island. Rent a kayak. Take a romantic dinner cruise. Browse charming boutiques and galleries. Walk on shell-covered beaches. Many properties, spas and restaurants are offering romance packages. Check them out here:

Take a trip to Paris for the evening
With a view of the restaurant's own Eiffel Tower, Bleu Rendez-Vous French Bistro on Sanibel Island offers a romantic setting. The Valentine's Day menu offers a choice of New Zealand rack of lamb with dijon rosemary au jus, stuffed filet Oscar with crabmeat and bearnaise, lobster au gratin, and slow-roasted duckling a l'orange. Dine on the patio and bring Fido for homemade doggy Valentine treats. Details and reservations: or 239-565-1608.

Celebrate Love at Shangri-La Springs in Bonita Springs
Three dinner seatings, an organic Valentine's menu, live music and a glass of bubbles are enticements at Shangri-La Springs. Spend time under the giant Mysore fig tree or make a reservation in the spa for a couples massage. (Editor's note: as of 1/31/2017 Shangri-La is fully booked for this dining event; walk-ins starting at 7:30pm will be seated on a first come, first serve basis. Learn More)

(Photo: Sugarshack)
(Photo: Sugarshack)
Feb 3 2017

Shangri-La Springs + Sugarshack: A new tradition for your Friday nights
Sugarshack, a Bonita Springs-based multimedia company, has partnered with Shangri-La Springs.
The pairing makes sense. Shangri-La is steeped in Bonita Springs history. Sugarshack gives that history a modern twist.

You can catch acoustic music at the historic downtown site. Local and regional musicians stop by, thanks to Sugarshack, and play sets of original music. The artists represent different genres, but they all share the passion that makes watching someone create in real-time exhilarating.

The current wave of Sugarshack acts will be featured in a series that runs through April. Shangri-La Springs organic cafe will be serving wine, beer, and food. The scheduled dates are as follows:

  • Feb. 10: Soulixer
  • Feb. 24: Wilder Sons
  • March 10: The Freecoasters
  • April 7: Roman Samuels


Dec 19 2016

A Naples Hidden Treasure: The Shangri-La Springs
Living in Naples, Florida we are surrounded by gorgeous manicured lawns and medians, newly constructed homes, modern office buildings and unique cultural institutions offering the most significant art collections, most current theater, the best music and gorgeous beachfront hotels with all the most modern amenities. What we are not surrounded with is physical history. However it's not because we are lacking in this area. According to the Collier County Museum "Collier County was one of a dozen new counties created during the dizzying Florida land boom of the 1920s. It is the state's 62nd county and the third largest in total land area. Vacationers and residents alike are often surprised to discover that this area's rich and colorful past actually stretches back thousands of years. Humans have lived here for centuries, beginning with the first hunters and gatherers who drifted down the Florida peninsula at the close of the last Ice Age in search of bigger game and warmer winters."

Dec 13 2016

A top vacation destination: Beaches, Old 41 and low cost can draw vacationers to Bonita
Walking through downtown can elicit a sense of personal connection.
The city has always strived for a small-town atmosphere, and various charming aspects of the smaller municipality deliver, said John Paeno, president of the Bonita Springs Downtown Alliance. "It's a very unique community," he said. "We're tight-knit, friendly and open. We focus around river and our old historical downtown." Beautiful beaches and the Old 41 Road stretch aren't the only draws for visitors, Donlan said. "There are places like Shangri-La Springs, which offers access to 8.5 acres of land to anyone," she said. "There's charming small businesses like Dolly's Produce Patch & Eatery that just offer an old-fashioned, Old-Florida charm."

Dec 9 2016

Light The Way 2016
Friday, December 9, 2016: At the Liles Hotel Plaza in Riverside Park The Old 41 corridor in Bonita Springs is undergoing a major face lift. The Bonita Springs Historical Society’s McSwain Home, sitting at the southern threshold of these exciting changes, is an important part of this exciting downtown revitalization.

Light The Way is the kickoff event to our 2017 Festival of Trees. Together these two special events will assist the Bonita Springs Historical Society raise the funds necessary to complete the McSwain Home renovations. Much has already been accomplished, but much remains to be done.

Light the Way will take place on Friday, December 9, 2016 from 5 - 9 PM at the Liles Hotel Plaza, located in Riverside Park at 27300 Old US41.

We would like to invite you to become a sponsor to Light the Way for the 2017 Festival of Trees to benefit the Mc Swain Home.

This magical evening will feature great Food, Spirits, Strolling Carolers, Live Jazz, an electrifying light show, and of course a trolley tour highlighting our many wonderful entities and attractions along the Old 41 corridor; The McSwain Home, the Liles Hotel, the Shangri-La, the Imperial River, Riverside Park area, and the Everglades Wonder Gardens!

We think this lively and festive evening will provide you with a better understanding as to what the Bonita Springs Historical Society is hoping to accomplish and its significance, while sharing with you the many opportunities to be part of our 2017 Festival of Trees, benefiting the Historic Mc Swain Home. This is your opportunity to tell the Bonita Springs community that you care about Bonita Springs, its history and historic preservation. We look forward to seeing you at Light the Way!

CLICK HERE for Reservations and Tickets to help Light The Way

(Photo: Special to The News-Press)
(Photo: Special to The News-Press)
Dec 5 2016

Know Thyself: Synergy with Kat Epple, Nathan Dyke
It won't be a concert. Time shared with Kat Epple and Nathan Dyke will be an experience.

In the living room of a modest North Fort Myers house, Kat pulled the drawer of a large glass table. Inside, there was a dizi from China, shakuhachi from Japan, bansuri from India. An array of flutes from around the world — Borneo, Madagascar, Peru, Malaysia, Tanzania — over 100, colorful and handcrafted, filled the single drawer.

One by one, she placed them to her lips.

"The embouchure is different with each," she said. She then exhaled breath into the instrument and it sang.

Kat has won eight Emmys, and she insists she is not an "entertainer."

"I've always played music from a spiritual place," she said.

(Photo: Ashley Collins/Staff)
Nov 14 2016

#LiveSWFL: Find relaxation with hand drumming at Shangri-La Springs
My job as a reporter can be stressful at times. Between tight deadlines, unanswered phone calls, and my type A personality, I'm constantly on the look out for the next wellness craze. I've tried meditation with no luck — my mind wandered uncontrollably and I found myself worrying instead of finding my inner zen. And I've tried adult coloring books, and acupuncture — coloring didn't hold my attention, and I should've rethought the latter due to my aversion to needles.

But when I learned about Shangri-La Springs in Bonita Springs, I felt hopeful. Here's a place that sits secluded in Old Bonita and offers numerous workshops, spa services, and weekly classes such as yoga or tai chi, all meant to help an individual find peace of mind and body. One class in particular caught my eye. Hand drumming. I had heard news about the growing interest in it, but assumed there weren't any classes available locally. When I learned Shangri-La Springs offered it every Tuesday, I had to find out for myself what hand drumming was all about.

(Photo: South Florida Reporter)
Oct 31 2016

Shangri-La Springs Beckons in Bonita Springs, Florida
Shangri-La Springs is a historic property in Bonita Springs, Florida. The initial building on the property was built in 1921 as a small hotel to accommodate potential buyers for a local real estate development. The property changed hands many times over the years. Its mineral springs became a health-related focus for osteopathic and homeopathic owners.

The present owners acquired the property in 1998. Their focus was preservationist, but also to expand the holistic and naturalistic vision of some of the former owners of Shangri-La. This is done partially through visual and performance arts. In addition, various classes featuring yoga, dance and meditation complement the artistic endeavors.

Elaine Camarda, Marta Meadow and Karsten Meadow take a hand drumming class at the Shangri-La. (Photo: Andrea Stetson/Special to The News-Press)
(Photo: Andrea Stetson/Special to The News-Press)
Oct 1 2016

Feel the beat with hand drumming classes at Shangri-La
The beat starts off slow and a bit technical, but soon morphs into a rhythm that is steady and peaceful. Even those that are doing it for the first time soon fall into the pattern and are making beautiful music. Every Tuesday evening Marc Wagner teaches hand drumming at Shangri-La Springs in Bonita Springs. It's a completely different type of music from traditional snare or drum sets. "It's a very tribal instrument," Wagner describes. "It is the typical African drum. Through my spiritual tendencies I found that drumming can also be used in a very spiritual way and that is what I typically try to incorporate into it." The sounds are Caribbean and African. The beats can be slow or fast and come in a variety of patterns.

"Most of all it should be fun," Wagner said about hand drumming. "That is always the main focus, to make it fun and to actually not to only learn an instrument that is very uncommon, but to enjoy more of a musical inclination that they might have. Hand drumming is a very good way to start because it is rhythm."

Art is tucked in unique spaces throughout the grounds including this piece peeking from behind a banana flower on the farm. (Photo: Anne Reed/The News-Press)
(Photo by Ann Reed/The News-Press)
Sep 28 2016

Off the Eaten Path in Pictures: The Restaurant at Shangri-La Springs
Travel to old Bonita Springs for an organic restaurant serving healthy food with a side of tranquility in this week's Off the Eaten Path. Tucked in a quiet garden along Old US 41 in Bonita Springs is a stone mermaid, its body colored and smoothed by time and the sulfur water that sprays into the surrounding water. "She's the Bonita spring," said Andrew Sroka, CEO of Shangri-La Springs. The statue was installed by Dr. Charles Gnau, the fourth owner of the property and an osteopath interested in the health benefits of the springs. Today's Shangri-La Springs began in 1921, when the Heitman Family built a hotel near the spring that the town was named for. The property changed hands several times before restoration in 1993 by Leo Dahlman and then, in 1998, the property was purchased by a trust. "One of the first things that the trust wanted to do was to begin growing produce as part of the rehabilitation of the property," Sroka explained. "The process for which the grounds had to be certified organic took several years. And the unique thing is the entire property, not just our orchards and our gardens, but the entire grounds that everything sits on, is certified organic."

Fast forward to today, and the small farm is thriving, the spa is open, the meeting room along the mineral pool hosts events and small classes and the restaurant is serving lunch.

Millisa Bell, head gardener at Shangri-La and owner of the Unruly Gardner, points out what's growing to general manager Zawi Borsa. (Photo by Jennifer Reed)
(Photo by Jennifer Reed)
Sep 2016

Shangri-La Springs Writes New, Inviting Chapter
No longer shrouded in secrecy, the spot of intriguing history re-opens with fresh dining, culture events, wellness options and more.
Maybe it's the exotic name, the Shangri-La Springs. Or the concrete wall obscuring lush grounds from street view. Or the quizzical-sounding title of its current owner, the Lama Hana Land Trust. Or perhaps, it's on account of its many-year closure followed by its opening to private groups only. Whatever the reason, the Shangri-La Springs in Bonita has been shrouded in secrecy for years, despite its very public origin as the Heitman Hotel, which its namesake family built in 1921 to provide lodging for potential buyers of its real estate developments. Its current managers, though, have lifted the proverbial veil and want to make the old property a centerpiece of the newly evolving downtown Bonita Springs.

"We really want to be a part of the community," says Zawi Borsa, the general manager and artistic director. "It's one of the only places left that is really Old Florida," adds Pyro Rodriguez, the recently hired executive chef, who prefers to be known simply as Chef Pyro. "And anyone can come in."

Beets at Shangri-La Springs (Photo Harriet Howard Heithaus)
(Photo Harriet Howard Heithaus)
Aug 18 2016

Shangri-La at Bonita Springs lets you linger over lunch
Locally sourced, limited menu allows its chef to perfect each dish. A lunch at the Shangri-La Springs is the kind of meal you want to linger over, and it's not because you're being cosseted by upholstered chairs and fussed over by a black-and-white uniform. The chairs are wood, the staff is casual in slacks and tops. But the atmosphere is zen, a quiet room with meadow of silk bloom-topped bud vases that rises from the tables. Outside its full-width bank of six-mullion windows is another world from the dusty, construction-laden Old 41 Road on the other side; the view here takes in tiny villas and a quarry-tiled great hall settled in among massive trees and leafy landscaping. Beyond it, not visible to the diners, is the organic garden of Chef Pyro, from whence the pea shoots come that embrace the grouper dish my dining partner is gobbling down.

The entire estate has evolved from a health springs resort to a traveler's stop to an empty building before its purchase in 1989 by the private trust that has saved the spa around city's original spring. Restoration began in earnest in 2011, and the result is a complex of spa, artistic gift shop, retreat house and its luncheon and takeaway restaurant.


6 Things to do in SWFL This Week
No. 2 Free Art & Nature Night at Shangri La Springs. RHYTHM + RHYME ART OPENING AND RECEPTION. Featuring the original works of David Acevedo and Ignacio Alperin. Meet the artists and view their work. Enjoy these multi-media performances celebrating Rhythm & Rhyme on the lush botanical grounds of Shangri-La Springs in Bonita Springs - Rain or Shine!


Bonita Springs gets a makeover
A lot is happening in Bonita Springs. If you haven't been in a while, now is a really good time to visit. The kids are back in school and the roads are "ours" for the next couple of months. The Bonita Springs Downtown Improvements Project is coming along and parts of it are already finished as the area transforms into a vibrant community that embraces its history. The full $18.6 million project is scheduled to be completed in fall 2017 and includes roundabouts at Pennsylvania Avenue and Terry Street, parking and streetscape features.


FMB Yacht Club Women Discover the Secrets of Shangri-La
Friday, March 4th, 2016, 20 women from the FMB Yacht Club enjoyed wonderful weather and a terrific outing at the Historic Shangri-La Resort and Spa in Bonita Springs. After meeting at the Great House (built in 1921) and watching an educational video, they were treated to a tour of the beautiful 8.5-acre grounds led by the intrepid, and funny, guide, John.


Shangri-La opens its doors
BONITA SPRINGS - It's been closed for more than a decade, but the doors at the historic Shangri-La are finally open. Now Bonita Springs is hoping the landmark can boost business along Old 41.

Naples Daily News

Visitors 'amazed' at Shangri-La grand reopening.
BONITA SPRINGS – The Shangri-La Hotel & Resort opened to the public for the first time in eight years Wednesday evening, allowing visitors to tour the grounds and lobby of the historic resort in downtown Bonita Springs.


Shangri-La Reopens
A small army of workers is busy in Bonita Springs this week at the Shangri-La Healing Waters Spa/Hotel... readying the historic landmark for a two day Holiday open-house. WGCU's Valerie Alker took a stroll earlier this week has this report.


Shangri-La gears up for re-opening
With new paint, new bricks, and hopefully a new generation of visitors walking her trails, the Shangri-La property in Bonita Springs is ready for her big reopening.

Naples Daily News

Shangri-La Hotel and Resort prepares to reopen as a health spa in Bonita Springs

Jason Easterly/Special to the Daily News The historic Shangri-La Inn Resort and Spa in Bonita Springs is reopening as the Shangri-La Healing Waters with the A Season of Giving - Shangri-La, The Past, A Present.

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