The Man Who Revived Jekyll – Jekyll Island Foundation

The Man Who Revived Jekyll

By Alexa Hawkins, JIA Director of Marketing & Communications
Excerpts: Tony Rehagen

The longest serving Executive Director in the Jekyll Island Authority’s history will clock out one last time on June 30, 2023. After serving 15 years at the helm, Jones Hooks will officially retire. With a long history of serving in economic and community development at the local, state, and federal level, Hooks’ longest role (and arguably the most impactful) has been right here in the Golden Isles.

Hooks came aboard officially in June of 2008, when the island was noticeably rundown and tourism visitation was at its lowest in decades.

With an annual operating budget of only $15 million, Hooks was charged with developing Jekyll into a tourist attraction while preserving its history and delicate natural habitat. Former Governor Sonny Perdue had earlier determined that Jekyll should be revitalized and provided the necessary budgetary catalyst. 

The crown jewel of development efforts was approval and construction of a new, more modern convention center and the adjacent beach village retail shops in 2010. This in turn brought back the international hotel chains, including The Westin Jekyll Island, which built its resplendent resort five years later. On the other side of the island, Hooks oversaw upgrades to the Jekyll Island Club Resort area and its surrounding historic cottages, as well as the total revamp of old horse stables into what today is Mosaic, the island’s museum, which documents and raises awareness of the island’s rich history.

Former Governor Nathan Deal and Governor Brian Kemp continued to support revitalization efforts led by Hooks. In all, more than $285 million in private investments and more than $82 million in public capital was spent on improvements to the island.

“He has been totally committed to Jekyll and to the renovation and enhancements that we brought,” says Bob Krueger, Vice Chairman of the JIA Board of Directors. Krueger was on the selection committee when the board hired Hooks. “His demand for quality and the team he has brought on board have helped us maintain the natural beauty of Jekyll and natural charm of Jekyll and make it a special destination.”

Today, because of Jones Hooks’ leadership and foresight, the island is everything the State of Georgia envisioned it would be when it purchased it from the private millionaire’s club in 1947.

Hooks’ 40-plus year career of service and stewardship is nothing short of remarkable. He has fully embodied the Authority’s mission as ‘stewards of a delicate balance’ and has encapsulated its special character through careful management, so it may be retained for future residents and visitors.

There is no greater goal of service for him to reach than that of retirement, and we are elated he’ll remain a supportive citizen on the island he has so deeply cared for. Jones, we hope you’ll let someone serve you for a change. And I hope it’s with a big margarita!

Send a gift and thanks in honor of Jones Hooks’ 15 years of service to Jekyll Island by clicking HERE.

Read more about ‘The Man Who Revived Jekyll’ in 31•81, the magazine of Jekyll Island.

Contact Us

Jekyll Island Foundation

P.O. Box 13002, Jekyll Island, GA 31527
Phone: (912) 635-4100


Looking to contact the Jekyll Island Authority? Please click here.