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Blue Grotto gets facelift

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By Ashley Andresen, Staff Writer

New improvements are putting Blue Grotto Dive Resort on the map as a one-stop dive spot. 

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"It's awesome. I can't speak enough of it. We'll be spending weekends here," said Cathie Stiles, of Jacksonville, adding there was a "100 percent improvement" since she visited just three months prior, comparing the bathroom facilities to that of the Hilton Hotel's.

Some of the new additions include a large deck by the spring that allows more divers to be on the platform at one time, a large new bathroom facility with a total of 14 showers, new pavilions with picnic tables, a hydroponics system for growing food, cabins — two with efficiencies, a camping area with charging stations for cell phones and other electronic devices and a pool for dive training. 

The owners have also added underwater platforms in the spring at depths of 10, 30 and 35 feet. Divers use the platforms to adjust the buoyancy controls on their tanks. Also coming soon will be a 140-amp solar panel that Kert Huber, manager and part owner of the diving business, said "should be enough to run our compressors, our lights, our pumps and the cabins."

According to Huber, the construction on the pool should be complete and the cabins open by the end of March at which time the dive school will be officially open.

Huber said they now have groups come from dive schools as far as Georgia, North Carolina and Louisiana to complete their diver certification. The resort gets, on average, about 100 people per day on weekends. Once the school is open at Blue Grotto, people will be able to come and stay Friday through Sunday and complete the training course and receive their certification on the spot in just three days.

A new dive shop is in the plans to be built by the end of the year. It will also serve as the office building, and when it is complete the current office building will serve as a classroom.

"We have a mind to add a restaurant in here ... you can eat what you see growing. It should be the best vegetables you've eaten ....” They also plan on carrying basic packaged foods, so visitors staying overnight won't have to leave to travel to a grocery store for items they may want or may have forgotten.

"It's amazing what they've done. Everything looks new. The bathrooms are super large and clean ... the best part is the huge deck," said Alan Lupsha, of Tallahassee, who had visited the spot to dive three years ago. He said he also liked the group discount they received — $10 off per person for having 10 or more people.