The Lake Club gave its clubhouse a $4 million makeover, and added a kitchen, concierge services and a minimalist’s touch. Now residents have no excuse to stay home.
In October, when The Lake Club opened its renovated Grande Clubhouse before the Lakewood Ranch Tour of Homes, more than 1,200 people flooded into the Tuscan village to check out the 20,000-square-foot showpiece.
The private clubhouse looked more like a five-star resort than a community gathering spot with its concierge desk, Calcutta porcelain accents, handblown glass fixtures, indoor-outdoor bar, two pools, gym, sauna and spa treatment rooms. Just stepping out on the veranda with a cup of coffee felt like a luxury — like being at The Ritz or The Don CeSar, but with less luggage and more natural light.
“It feels light and brighter,” says Monaca Onstad, Lakewood Ranch’s director of community relations. “We opened it up. We added more windows and clean lines. We wanted a more modern, minimalist design to balance out the architecture. We wanted that sense of airiness because we live in Florida … we want to be around sunshine.”
Gone are the heavy baroque flourishes and fussy art in gilded frames, faux-finished walls and dark wood. In its place is a white back-lit bar with a quartz countertop, a new game room and fireplace, an expanded fitness center equipped with Peloton exercise bikes and a 1,600-square-foot kitchen, which is occupied three days a week by Tableseide Restaurant Group, proprietors of Louies Modern, Libby’s Cafe & Bar and Oak & Stone.
Anyone familiar with the neighborhood’s previous clubhouse is awestruck.
The Lake Club, which sold its first lot in 2007, is touted as the crown jewel of Lakewood Ranch. The average house inside this gated community — home to 650 residents — sells for more than $1 million. Three-hundred homes are already sold, and developers plan to sell 400 more by the end of build-out. Part of the push to “reimagine” the clubhouse was to make the community more appealing to homebuyers.
Residents have been waiting years to see a food and beverage operation move into The Lake Club, much less a stocked bar. Now they’ve got both, including concierge services they can call on to wash their car, organize their closets, walk their dog or do their Christmas shopping, for example.
“As soon as they started talking about redoing the clubhouse and making it a true resort-type atmosphere, our home values started going up and more houses started selling,” says Jay Traverso, who moved with his wife into The Lake Club five years ago after retiring from a corporate job in environmental management outside of Washington, D.C. “We live three houses down, so we’re the most excited about being able to walk to get lunch or dinner. It’s so much more fresh and inviting. When you look over the railing at that pool, it’s stunning. We call it the Disney pool.”
All of this comes at a cost of course. Access to the pool and fitness center is free for members; dinner on a Friday night or an appointment for microdermabrasion is not. Residents know this and are willing to pay for fringe benefits. Some of them have already participated in a culinary class. The first one focused on preparing a proper charcuterie plate and came with a special Lake Club-branded cutting board.
Onstad, who helped shepherd the renovation over the past two years, says there’s nothing else like the Grande Clubhouse in Lakewood Ranch. The Amenity Center at Esplanade Golf & Country Club comes close, but even that doesn't offer a concierge program, or its own custom blend of coffee.
“Little things matter to people,” Onstad says. “Like offering towels at the pool or having an aesthetician sample sunscreen. It shows you care and it makes your members’ lives better.”