Nearly two years after announcing plans to build villas and a resort lodge at Heritage Harbor Golf Club and Eatery, club owners have identified ResClubs as a development partner in the construction of Heritage Harbor Golf Resort and Lodge.
On October 9, Mark Bruce, the club’s development project manager, joined ResClubs CEO Craig Williamson in hosting an open day to explain how people can own or rent time in villas in furnished vacation and lodge suites on the property.
Bruce said that ultimately the construction of the 76 villas and a resort will allow Heritage Harbor to inject much needed funds into a course that is in need of improvements. The partnership with ResClubs does not change much from the original plan, according to Bruce.
“Originally we thought there would be a number of villas and we would sell them for people to occupy,” Bruce said. “The hotel would be the hotel.”
After ResClubs launched its format at Reunion Resort and Golf Club in Kissimmee in January 2020, Bruce saw the concept on a social media site and researched the platform.
“We wanted to find a development partner aligned with our vision,” said Bruce, who reached out to Williamson. “They were open to the idea. They were relatively new and they wanted to grow their platform in Florida. It will become a flagship product for them in the Southeast.”
Bruce wants people to understand that the ResClubs format is not a timeshare concept.
“Timeshare is a form of fractional ownership,” Bruce said. “It’s predatory with a hard sales pitch. The ResClubs program is the exact opposite, with villas being part of a resort. Members invest dollars in a vacation home membership. From that point on, there are no more fees or dues.They can pre-book their time, come and go, and the other weeks they don’t use create revenue to offset their costs.
Heritage Harbor Golf Course opened in 2001 as Stoneybrook and assumed its current name in 2018. Since its inception it has been operated as a public course and semi-private club.
“We’re taking it into the resort/private world,” Bruce said. “This will include opportunities for people who live in Stoneybrook and Heritage Harbour. The reason for doing the whole project is to reinvest money in property.”
Infrastructure construction is expected to begin next summer, when the golf course will be closed for a major renovation. Bruce said he expects the course to be closed for about five months and he said it will be the first of a three-tier renovation project. He said the plan is to upgrade “everything”.
Construction is expected to go vertical in the fourth quarter of 2022 with villas expected to be ready starting in the first or second quarter of 2023. The resort pavilion, which will have between 76 and 90 suites (depending on rights), is expected to be completed approximately one year after the villas.
The first and second holes of the course will be removed and replaced by the villas and the lodge. Two holes will be added to the existing course, which will remain a par 72.
Williamson said he had been involved in the timeshare and vacation club industry for over 20 years and wanted to “build a better mousetrap”.
“We are the anti-timeshare,” he said. “This industry is always predatory. I had a lot of sleepless nights because we were putting a lot of people in this industry and it was not good money management.
“It’s the evolution of it.”
Williamson said participation in ResClubs generates a revenue stream.
He said an explosion in the number of vacation rental properties like VRBO and Air BnB has made the market ripe for ResClubs.
Heritage Harbor ticked all the boxes – such as growth, big box stores and being pinched on all sides by development – when Williamson began looking for a flagship property.
Besides the Heritage Harbor project, Williamson has other projects in Costa Rica and Mexico, as well as a similar project with townhouses in Las Vegas.
He said the fact that Heritage Harbor Golf Resort and Lodge will be developed in a single phase was significant. He said multi-phased projects, which sometimes leave previous phases obsolete, are “absolute disasters”.
Williamson is an internationally renowned vacation rental expert and author and has been involved in the industry since 2003.
Bruce said the station’s time had come, and in part because of the pandemic.
“People want to be in their own little bubble,” he said. “The landscape has changed and been amplified by the pandemic. We saw this as a perfect solution for us. People will relate to the property and call it home.”
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