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Heritage Harbour resort project tees off with club homes, hotel

Construction has begun on 74 club homes at Heritage Harbour Golf Club in east Bradenton with a Home2Suites by Hilton on the way.

A rendering of the layout of 74 Club Homes at Heritage Harbour and the Homes2Suites hotel (top left).
A rendering of the layout of 74 Club Homes at Heritage Harbour and the Homes2Suites hotel (top left).
Courtesy image
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On March 25, heavy construction vehicles were plowing up the land off Stone Harbour Loop, a thing of beauty to Heritage Harbour Golf Club General Manager Mark Bruce.

Bruce knows the necessary underground utility work is well underway for a project that initially was planned in January of 2020.

"We finally get to see the excavators and the dump trucks," Bruce said. "We are ready to put a bow on this one."

Ambitious project

When the golf destination project is finished, it will include 74 single-family residential units and a Home2Suites by Hilton property. Hilton representatives said the extended-stay hotel will include 100 rooms or more, and still is being planned.

Bruce said the golf "resort" is a major development for Heritage Harbour and the community.

"Anytime you add 74 homes with memberships, and a Hilton property, it is going to bring in new traffic (to the course)," he said. "You are going to grow revenue and you are going to further stabilize the club."

Stabilizing the club by filling a regional stay-and-play golf void in the region was the main impetus behind the plans in 2020.

Bruce remained steadfast in his plan through the past four years even though the major players in the project have changed. Through the changes, the resulting product won't look much different than when the original plan was released in 2020.

Heavy equipment prepares the land for the Club Homes at Heritage Harbour.
Photo by Lesley Dwyer

The planned "lodge" is now a hotel, and the 74 homes that will be built by the Altcess Real Estate Group will virtually occupy the same space as the original plan.

In 2020, Gene Zeiner, the president of the Heritage Harbour Master Association, gave the plan the association's blessing.

"Anything that improves the golf course is good for the HOA,” Zeiner said at the time. “Our home values are directly linked to the golf course and its success."

Zeiner called it a great idea and an ambitious project.

It was up to Bruce and his ownership group to make the dream a reality. The search began for the right strategic partners.

Getting started

Bruce had been co-owner for 10 years of Play Golf Sarasota, a website and magazine that launched in 2009. He continually took calls from readers about the lack of golf vacation opportunities in the area and that convinced him to pursue adding a resort component to Heritage Harbour Golf Club.

“This Interstate 75 corridor is exploding,” he said four years ago. “This is where everything is happening. Our project simply aims to raise the bar for our recreational and amenity offerings.”

Heritage Harbour Golf Club General Manager Mark Bruce is seeing his project come to fruition with 74 Club Homes at Heritage Harbour and a Home2Suites hotel.
Photo by Jay Heater

Bruce was right in that the State Road 64/Interstate 75 interchange exploded with businesses. Costco came to the area and Miller's Ale House followed. On the way are Target, Whole Foods, Longhorn Steakhouse, Portillo's, and many more.

A key part of Bruce's plan is the Home2Suites. He said the hotel will have a resort style pool and other amenities that the owners of the Club Homes at Heritage Harbour will be able to use.

However, the Home2Suites will be important not to just the golf club, but to the area in general. Lakewood Ranch has been in need of quality hotels to serve areas such as the Premier Sports Campus.

"We are thrilled to be bringing the Home2Suites to Heritage Harbour Golf Resort,” wrote Jim Dora, Jr., president and CEO of General Hotels Corporation, in an email March 25. “This particular exit along I-75 on the northern end of Bradenton is currently experiencing tremendous growth and is a prime location for adding a new hotel option for today’s extended-stay guests.”

A rendering from above of a club home at Heritage Harbour.
Courtesy image

Home2Suites caters to travelers who are staying four days or more. It offers separate bedroom and living spaces and full kitchens that include full-size refrigerators, dishwashers, microwaves, and induction burner cooktops. The Home2Suites at Heritage Harbour will be one of 700 hotels the chain currently has under development.

The hotel and Club Homes are being built on a 15-acre area that originally was part of the course, running along River Heritage Boulevard where the former No. 1 and No. 2 holes were located. Original plans pointed at late in 2022 for the lodge to be open.

Course improvements

Once the original plans were made, Bruce had to make improvements to the course, which opened as Stoneybrook Golf Course in 2001 and changed its name to Heritage Harbour Golf Club in 2018. A $2 million renovation was done in 2022.

Landscape and golf course architect Nick Campanelli, 38, of Glastonbury, Connecticut was chosen for the design job. The original architect, Arthur Hills, died May 18, 2021.

It was in October 2021 that Bruce introduced ResClub as a development partner in building Heritage Harbour Golf Resort and Lodge. The plan had changed slightly to allow people the opportunity to own or rent time in the furnished vacation villas or lodge suites.

However, ResClub later pulled out of the project.

Manatee County commissioners were impressed with the project and approved it (for 100 hotel rooms and 74 villas) unanimously in May 2022.

ResClub's departure caused some delays but Bruce shifted gears and found what he called "more accomplished development partners." He eventually landed Hilton and later Altcess Real Estate Group.

With everything now in place, the project is going full-speed ahead with new owners expected to move in early in 2025.

"This is a unique project," Bruce said. "People who live in the club homes will be able to enjoy the hotel's resort pool and amenities. That's going to work together in harmony."

Heritage Harbour is expected to have just over 5,000 homes at buildout. Heritage Harbour currently has 120 members. Bruce said he expects approximately 300 members once the project is finished.

"This will be more than just golf course homes," Bruce said. "This will be a boutique experience."



Jay Heater

Jay Heater is the managing editor of the East County Observer. Overall, he has been in the business more than 41 years, 26 spent at the Contra Costa Times in the San Francisco Bay area as a sportswriter covering college football and basketball, boxing and horse racing.

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