Bass Pro Shops Founder Johnny Morris Announces New Valhalla Island Oceanfront Resort Set to Be Largest in the Florida Keys

Leading conservationist shares plans for a major nature-based fishing resort in the Sport Fishing Capital of the World. Morris envisions Valhalla Island Resort as a new model of low-impact, sustainable design in the Florida KeysImage

MARATHON, Florida. – Johnny Morris presented plans for the Valhalla Island Resort waterfront development to an audience that included Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and key leaders of the Florida Keys conservation and recreational fishing communities.

Valhalla Island is the largest resort property in the Florida Keys. It includes more than 175 acres and more than a mile of stunning waterfront property, located just 15 minutes from Marathon International Airport, a two-hour drive from Miami, and just over an hour from Key West. Plans for the resort involve maintaining more than 50% of the property’s green spaces.

Johnny Morris was heavily inspired by the legendary Long Key Fishing Camp, which not only established the Florida Keys as a world-class sport fishing destination, but served as the inspiration for Valhalla Island Resort.

His passion for fishing and great respect for the historic Long Key fishing camp served as Johnny Morris’ primary inspiration for developing Valhalla Island Resort.

For over 30 years, Morris has been putting Valhalla Island together. Much of Johnny’s inspiration for developing the resort came from the legendary Long Key Fishing Camp. Founded in 1908 by Henry Flagler, Long Key Fishing Camp was largely responsible for establishing the Florida Keys’ position of prominence in the sport fishing landscape. US Patronized

Ernest Hemingway with sailfish caught at Long Key Fishing Camp

Presidents, prominent figures from the golden age of Hollywood, Ernest Hemingway, Zane Gray and many others, the Long Key Fishing Camp opened the eyes of the world to the wonderful tropical paradise that is the Florida Keys. The heritage and history of this very special place is the inspiration for Valhalla Island Resort.

Like its legendary predecessor, Valhalla Island Resort, with its full-service deep-water accessible marina and beautifully appointed accommodations, offers the unique combination of world-class inshore and offshore fishing opportunities that await you. in Florida. Keys. Located minutes from the deep blue waters of the Gulf Stream and next to the world-class flatfish fisheries of the Florida Bay, Valhalla Island Resort is at Ground Zero for catching some of the best sailfish, swordfish, sábalo, bonefish, palometa and snook in the world. Given the island’s wonderful setting, it’s fitting that Valhalla translates “fisherman’s paradise.”

Legendary writer and fisherman Zane Gray was a frequent guest of the Long Key Fishing Camp.

In early spring, schools of giant bluefin tuna migrate through these waters. Anglers can find double-digit sailfish days for most of the year here. In terms of number and size, the Keys are recognized around the world as one of the best places to fish for swordfish. Trophy mahi mahi abound in the spring and summer months. Tarpon, bonefish, and palometa inhabit the interior of Florida Bay in numbers and sizes unmatched anywhere else in the United States.

The Valhalla Island Resort is the latest reinforcement in Johnny’s ongoing commitment to advancing the Florida Keys sport fishing community and promoting the region’s tourism industry. Located just 25 miles southwest of Bass Pro Shops’ saltwater outlet World Wide Sportsman in Islamorada, the resort is the latest offering in a series of investments by Morris and Bass Pro Shops to expand sport fishing, conservation and nature-based tourism within the Keys. and the State of Florida.

The shelter

Celebrating the fishing heritage of the Keys

Located in a remarkably unique island setting, the project is an extension of Johnny Morris’s Signature Nature Resort experiences that help families connect with nature and each other. Natural beauty, quality craftsmanship, attention to detail, and respect for the land are the hallmarks of every project Johnny pursues.

Johnny Morris with his daughter Megan with proof of the world-class sport fishing opportunities in the waters surrounding Valhalla Island Resort.

To bring the vision to life, Morris and his daughter Megan have partnered with leading architecture firms Hart Howerton and Nunzio Marc DeSantis Architects. Using ecologically sensitive design techniques and working with the natural ecology of the Florida Keys, plans for the 110-unit natural complex call for an intimate setting that preserves 50 percent green space.

along the. Valhalla Island Resort will be vehicle free. All surfaces will be permeable surfaces.

The resort’s accommodations consist of a collection of one, two, three and four-bedroom cottages, plus a main lodge and general store, all set within lush tropical landscaping and a wide beach shaded by hundreds of palm trees. . Other amenities include restaurants, a spa, swimming pools, a fishing marina, and spaces designed for people to come together and connect with nature.

A new model of sustainability: Committed to preserving the community and promoting the sport of fishing
The development, previously approved by the City of Marathon, is designed to be carbon neutral with a minimal footprint and low impact to preserve the natural integrity of the land while taking advantage of the latest sustainable strategies.

Conservation-based practices inform all aspects of resort design and operation with the goal of enhancing the natural ecosystem. State-of-the-art sustainable design techniques will be used, including on-site renewable energy through solar and geothermal, rainwater harvesting and storage, and orientation of buildings to improve natural ventilation.

Morris and his team are working closely with area conservation partners and local community officials to ensure the complex not only brings together but enhances the existing character of the community.

Beyond the footprint of the complex itself, the plans call for an extensive transformation of nearby hotel properties acquired by Morris into fully renovated apartment buildings to comfortably accommodate workforce housing, with shuttle service reducing any potential congestion.

The team is partnering with local conservation officials to ensure the items enhance native habitat and wildlife. Key partners and agencies include the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the South Florida Water Management District, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the Region Unified Gulf of the South Atlantic and Audubon Florida, among others. Conservation leaders in attendance to celebrate Valhalla’s announcement included Eric Eikenburg, executive director of the Florida Everglades Foundation, environmental consultant Dr. Phil Frank and scientist Rowena Garcia, and Allison Delashmit, director of regional operations for Mote Marine Laboratory’s Coral Research Facility, and community officials from Marathon and throughout the region.

Fishing legends gathered for the grand opening of World Wide Sportsman in 1997. From left to right: Billy Pate, Loren Gray (son of Zane Grey), George Hommell, Johnny Morris, Lefty Kreh, Mina Hemingway (granddaughter of Ernest ). Seated: Curt Gowdy, Ted Williams and Jimmy Albright.

Recipient of Conservation’s Highest Honors

Johnny Morris is an avid fisherman who has spent considerable time in the Keys. Morris’ World Wide Sportsman’s premier location in Islamorada, which includes a world-class marina, retail store and restaurant, is a world-renowned landmark for sport fishing. Morris’s longstanding support of Florida Keys fishery conservation resulted in his 2022 induction into the prestigious Bonefish & Tarpon Trust Ring of Honor. In 2019, the National Audubon Society recognized Morris’s leadership in conservation by awarding him its highest honor, the Audubon Medal. These honors underscore Johnny’s reputation and life’s work in the conservation community.

For decades, Bass Pro Shops has made significant investments in conservation in Florida. These include investments in the Everglades, Lake Okeechobee and Florida Bay, working with our clients to ensure resources are well managed today and in the future. However, the company’s conservation impact extends beyond the state of Florida. Working with more than 60 national conservation organizations, Bass Pro Shops builds partnerships to advance some of the biggest issues facing our country.

Supporting Florida’s Tourism Industry

In addition to a decades-long commitment to conservation within the state, Morris and the Bass Pro Shops family of outdoor businesses provide thousands of American jobs throughout Florida. Morris and Bass Pro Shops operate 12 retail stores throughout the Sunshine State, from Destin to Islamorada. These operations provide thousands of jobs while supporting the state’s multibillion-dollar sports fishing and tourism industries. The company also works hand-in-hand with a network of dozens of independent boat dealers throughout the state to equip anglers and boat owners in their quest to enjoy Florida’s many freshwater and saltwater waterways.

The managers of the Bass Pro Shops gather for a recent fishing adventure on the island of Valhalla.

The Valhalla Island Resort will be a boost for tourism within the Florida Keys, especially in the sport fishing and nature-based tourism segments. To this end, Morris and Bass Pro Shops plans to spread the wonderful fishing and leisure experiences available, promoting tourism in the Florida Keys through the wide reach of its passionate customer base around the world.

The market

Construction of the Valhalla Island Resort is scheduled to be completed within the next two years. Morris and his team will continue to share updates as the process progresses.

About Bass Pro Stores
Bass Pro Shops is North America’s leading outdoor and conservation company. Founded in 1972 when avid young fisherman Johnny Morris started selling tackle out of his father’s liquor store in Springfield, Missouri, today the company provides customers with unmatched offerings spanning premier retail destinations, fishing gear manufacturing, outdoor activities, world-class tourist destinations and more. In 2017, Bass Pro Shops acquired Cabela’s to create a “best of the best” experience with superior products, dynamic locations and excellent customer service. Bass Pro Shops also operates the White River Marine Group, which offers an unmatched collection of industry-leading boat brands, and Big Cedar Lodge, America’s Premier Wilderness Resort. Under the visionary conservation leadership of Johnny Morris, Bass Pro Shops is a national leader in protecting habitat and introducing families to the great outdoors and has been named “One of America’s Best Employers” by Forbes.