History

Shangri-La Springs – 1921 to present

In 1921, the Heitman family constructed the Heitman Hotel on eight acres of land in the heart of what is now Old Bonita. The family was developing property to the west and the 25-room hotel provided potential buyers a place to stay while their new homes were constructed. The natural spring for which the town is named is located on the grounds and flows into Oak Creek.

The Depression brought hard times and the hotel was sold to the Haverfields and later to Walter Mack of the Cadillac family, who did elaborate remodeling and expanded the hotel to 50 rooms with the name, Villa Bonita.

The next owner was Dr. Charles Gnau, an osteopath interested in the health benefits of the mineral water from the springs. He added a spring-fed pool complete with a statue, "the Indian Maiden of the Springs."

The property was purchased in 1964 by R.J. Cheatham who was also interested in health practice, particularly natural hygiene. He obtained diplomas in Naturopathy, Homeopathic Medicine, Osteopathy Life Science and Metaphysics. He improved the eight acres of ground to provide places for recreation and points of interest conducive to peace of mind and called the health spa, Shangri La.

In 1993, Leo Dahlman bought the property with the goal of developing Shangri La into a first class health resort. With a background in historic restoration and hotel management, he restored much of the property to its original grandeur.

In 1998, when the property became available for purchase, Addison Fischer and Heather Burch, both long-time conservationists, acquired the property through the Lama Hana Land Trust, to protect the integrity of this important landmark in Bonita Springs.

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