ResClubs joins with Heritage Harbour Golf Club and Eatery to create a golf resort in east Bradenton.
Almost two years after announcing a plan to build villas and a resort lodge at the Heritage Harbour Golf Club and Eatery, club owners have identified ResClubs as a development partner in building the Heritage Harbour Golf Resort and Lodge.
On Oct. 9, Mark Bruce, the club's manger handling the development project, joined with ResClubs CEO Craig Williamson, to host an open house to explain how people can own or rent time in furnished vacation villas and lodge suites on the property.
Bruce said, ultimately, building the 76 villas and a resort will allow Heritage Harbour to infuse much-needed funds into a course that is in need of upgrades. The partnership with ResClubs isn't much of a change to the initial plan, according to Bruce.
"Originally, we were thinking there would be a certain 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 who was aligned with our vision," said Bruce, who contacted Williamson. "They were open to the idea. They were relatively new and they wanted to grow their platform in Florida. This will become a Southeast flagship for them."
Bruce wants people to understand the ResClubs' format is not a time share concept.
"Time share is a form of fractional ownership," Bruce said. "It is predatory with a hard sales pitch. The ResClubs program is exactly the opposite with the villas being part of a stay-and-play resort. Members are investing dollars into a vacation home membership. From that point on, there are no additional fees or dues. They can prebook their time, come and go, and the other weeks they don't use are creating income to offset their cost."
The Heritage Harbour golf course opened in 2001 as Stoneybrook and changed to its current name in 2018. Since its inception, it has been operated as a public course and a semi-private club.
"We are 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 put money back into the property."
Infrastructure construction is expected to begin next summer, at which time the golf course will be closed for a major renovation. Bruce said he expects the course to be closed for approximately 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 and the villas are expected to be ready beginning in the first or second quarter of 2023. The resort lodge, which will have between 76-90 suites (depending on entitlements), is expected to be finished about a year after the villas.
The first and second holes on the course will be taken out 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 has been involved in the time share and vacation club industry for more than 20 years and he wanted "to build a better mousetrap."
"We are the anti-time share," he said. "That industry still is predatory. I spent a lot of sleepless nights because we were putting a lot of people in that industry and it was not good stewardship of their money.
"This is the evolution of it."
Williamson said participation in ResClubs leads to a revenue stream.
He said an explosion in the amount of vacation rental properties like VRBO and Air BnB has made the market ripe for ResClubs.
Heritage Harbour checked all the boxes — such as growth, big box stores, and being pinched on all sides by development —when Williamson began seeking a flagship property.
Besides the Heritage Harbour project, Williamson has other projects in Costa Rica and Mexico, along a similar project with townhomes in Las Vegas.
He said the fact Heritage Harbour Golf Resort and Lodge will be developed all in one phase was important. He said projects in multiple phases, which sometimes leave earlier phases obsolete, are "absolute catastrophes."
Williamson is an internationally recognized expert and author in the field of vacation rental property and has been involved in the industry since 2003.
Bruce said the resort's time has come, and partially due to the pandemic.
"People want to be in their own little bubble," he said. "The landscape has changed. and has been amplified by the pandemic. We saw this as a perfect fit for us. People will be bonded to the property, and will call it home."
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