Is the Orlando Summer Bay Resort Timeshare Sinkhole Growing?

Summer Bay Timeshare Resort
Summer Bay Timeshare Resort (photo credit Orlando Sentinel)

The massive sinkhole that severely damaged the Orlando timeshare, Summer Bay Resort on Sunday evening (August 11), appears to be stable say officials today.

A 100-foot wide sinkhole collapsed Summer Bay Resort buildings numbers 103 and 104, which are connected by a breezeway and actually counted as one structure. The Orlando Sentinel reported that all of the timeshare units damaged were two-bedroom, two-bath units. Also impacted was building 105, which on Monday was condemned by officials.

First the most important news: no one was injured. But you can bet this is one Orlando timeshare vacation that the guests at Summer Bay Resort will never forget. More than 100 of the vacationers who were occupying the resort were rousted from bed around 11 PM on Sunday evening by the sound of the buildings beginning to break. Some described it as a sound, “like multiple people with aluminum baseball bats who were swinging them against the windows,” others likened the sound to cracking, popping, booms, or gunshots.

Whatever the noise seemed to be, it didn’t give the occupants of the buildings affected much time to respond. Most fled their timeshare units without pausing to collect car keys, medications, wallets, or other personal items. One couple and their child were even forced to break a window in order to escape when the doorway to their unit collapsed. The approximately 35 vacationers housed in buildings 103 and 14 can thank the resort’s onsite management and security for running through the corridors, banging on doors, and spreading the word to abandon the building immediately.

All occupants of the Summer Bay Resort timeshare were safely evacuated, (Photo source: Orlando Sentinel)
All occupants of the Summer Bay Resort timeshare were safely evacuated (Photo credit: Orlando Sentinel)

Within roughly 30 minutes of the successful evacuation, the building had buckled under its own weight, leaving, as one guest said, her belongings buried deep in the ground. Even occupants of building 105, which sustained little to no visible damage, were not immediately permitted to return to their units to collect their possessions.

Summer Bay Resort  is working with the timeshare owners and guests who have been displaced to arrange accommodations there at Summer Bay or in nearby properties. The Red Cross and other agencies are at the Summer Bay Resort timeshare, providing trauma counseling, and helping people with issues such as replacing driver licenses, credit cards, and other documents necessary for travel.

While Summer Bay Resort has not, as of the time this is being written, added any update to its website, it has posted the following statement on its Facebook page:

“In an unforeseeable natural disaster, one of the 26 buildings on our Summer Bay Resort property was affected by a sinkhole.

Thanks to the quick response of our staff and first responders, there were no injuries, and all guests were able to leave the building safely .We are working diligently to relocate and assess the needs of all of our guests.

Geologists are onsite assessing the area to ensure that the damage is contained.

If any current or future guests have any questions or concerns, please contact our customer service staff at 1-800-654-6102 or [email protected].

Thank you for your well wishes and continued support.”

Resort owner and President Paul Caldwell says,  “After the geologists’ initial survey here, they’ve indicated it is what they describe as a classic Florida sinkhole about 100 feet in diameter and on a preliminary basis, they do not have a concern that it is growing or will grow.” Caldwell adds, “We are open for business … we are attempting to make this as normal an experience for our guests and our team as we possibly can.”

Later today, the U.S. Geological Survey team is expected to have more specific information on the sinkhole’s stability. Summer Bay Resort is actually southwest of Orlando, a few miles from Walt Disney World, and located in the city of Clermont, one of the areas in Florida that is most susceptible to sinkholes. High levels of limestone in the soil and underground cavern formations  allow the soil to shift with  rising and falling ground water levels eroding the bedrock beneath the soil’s surface.

Summer Bay Resort occupies approximately 300-acres.

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