Welcome to the Club

Five local clubs perform renovations that connect members to the outdoors and to one another

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The kitchen looks tired. I can’t see the ocean. These chairs are uncomfortable. This room is too dark. Where’s the pro shop? Fire pit, please! More TVs, more pickleball, more pillows. More connections: to the outdoors, to each other.

Now, imagine being the general manager of a private club: answering to the membership, considering the staff, and complying with rules and regulations; staying ahead of the trends but behind the scenes. Adapt, anticipate, assimilate, accommodate. Survey on paper, survey on property. Assemble the team—architect, contractor, designer. 

Now, imagine being the designer. Stay on message, stay on schedule, stay on budget. Consider indoor traffic flow, factor in the demographic, and interface with a decorating committee. Select the colors and acquire the furniture. Make it beautiful, make it durable, make it exceptional. And make it fast.

Ready, set, renovate!

The Quail Valley golf clubhouse underwent a nine-month renovation that reimagined the space for members to gather, dine, and relax in the new layout. Photo by Nickolas Sargent Photography
The Quail Valley golf clubhouse underwent a nine-month renovation that reimagined the space for members to gather, dine, and relax in the new layout. Photo by Nickolas Sargent Photography

Quail Valley: ‘Where’s the Pro Shop?’

Upon entering the old Quail Valley golf clubhouse, a blind, sharp dogleg to the right eventually brought you to the pro shop. If you proceeded straight through the lobby, you found yourself in a vast expanse of dining with a small, uninviting bar at the far end facing a wall. Without a caddie or signage, the clubhouse layout was as unclear as Pebble Beach in the fog. 

After a nine-month, $10 million renovation that reconfigured the floor plan and brought the total square footage to 27,500, the clubhouse now reposes on its hilltop perch in stylish, welcoming functionality. 

Managing partner Kevin Given cofounded the club with the late Steve Mulvey in 2002, the golf clubhouse having been inspired by Shinnecock on the outside and Westchester Country Club and Seminole on the inside. The interior design was done by Susan Schuyler Smith, founder and president of Spectrum Interior Design in Vero Beach. Two years ago, Given asked Smith to reimagine the clubhouse for a younger membership and a burgeoning female golfing cohort. 

The Quail Valley golf clubhouse underwent a nine-month renovation that reimagined the space for members to gather, dine, and relax in the new layout 1. Photo by Nickolas Sargent
Photo by Nickolas Sargent Photography

Smith relocated the pro shop immediately to one’s left upon entering the clubhouse. Next, she created a large bar in the center of the dining room, where members can watch a big-screen TV and simultaneously take in the expansive views of the golf course. 

To the right, she designed a sitting area with another TV. And for a show of a completely different nature, an open kitchen occupies the left wall, fostering a connection between chef and members. The walls are adorned with new, uniform tournament plaques and black-and-white photos of members, displayed on a rotating basis. Overall, the renovation team produced a lighter, welcoming, elegant destination for Quail Valley’s golf membership, and a 19th Hole that’s easy to find.

The newly renovated Grand Harbor Beach Club is 8,674 square feet
The newly renovated Grand Harbor Beach Club is 8,674 square feet.

Grand Harbor: A Bigger ‘Sandbar’

When the 900-strong membership of Grand Harbor acquired the club from the developer in January 2021, it created a strategic master plan to upgrade the amenities. Since then, the club has renovated its two golf courses, resurfaced 10 tennis courts, added four pickleball courts, and is gearing up to completely renovate the main clubhouse—encompassing dining, fitness, a market, golf staging, pro shop, and more. 

Both of Grand Harbor Beach Club's golf courses have new looks
Both of Grand Harbor Beach Club’s golf courses have new looks.

The Beach Club, located on the barrier island, has recently undergone a $5.6 million, three-phase renovation into a casually sophisticated seaside dining destination.

“Our goal with the Beach Club,” says general manager Michael Gibson, “is to be the best restaurant in Vero Beach, but it’s private.” The centerpiece is a chic new bar in the Shell Dining Room. “This will be a gathering spot for our membership for years to come,” he says.

Jeannine Rohtla, an interior designer with Peacock & Lewis, has spearheaded that part of the project. “Our goal was to extend the feeling of a light, breezy, beachside with coastal blues, sandy beiges, and crisp whites,” she explains. “The new bar has a quartz top with pretty blue veining. On the front of the bar is sea glass, blue and white pebble tile.” Clerestory windows over the bar flood the space with natural light. The furnishings, umbrellas, and extended outdoor dining area all factor into a coastal dining experience for about 300 guests. 

The goal of renovating Windsor’s Beach Club was to connect people and the outdoors with color, more seating areas, and a gorgeous, unobstructed  view of the ocean. Photo by Brantley Photography
The goal of renovating Windsor’s Beach Club was to connect people and the outdoors with color, more seating areas, and a gorgeous, unobstructed view of the ocean. Photo by Brantley Photography

Windsor: ‘I Can’t See the Ocean’

You knew the ocean was there, because you were at the Beach Club. You could hear the surf and smell the salty air, but where’s that beautiful blue water and open sky with cotton-candy clouds? Until the team at Windsor addressed this missing element of its otherwise stunning Beach Club, it could have been 100 miles inland.

As visionary developer Hilary Weston amassed her team, including architect Clemens Bruns Schaub of Vero Beach and designer Alessandra Branca of Chicago and Palm Beach, she addressed not only the need to connect the Beach Club to the beach, but the growing desire among its membership of 329 for a casual dining venue with a seaside view. 

Windsor Beach Club. Photo by Brantley Photography
Windsor Beach Club. Photo by Brantley Photography

To accomplish this goal, a preexisting storage building was given a 1,736-square-foot second floor and turned into the instantly popular Cabana Bar, which opened in 2022. Windsor general manager Robert Gallagher, says, “It affords 100 percent ocean views and is a beautiful deck with a center console bar with lovely seating areas on the north and south sides.” Accommodating up to 70 people, the Cabana Bar is set up as a luncheon space and offers small plates several nights a week. 

Windsor Beach Club's seating areas
Windsor Beach Club’s seating areas. Photo by Brantley Photography

Over the last four years, Branca has infused the Beach Club and Cabana Bar with a fresh Anglo-Caribbean style possessing “a deeply ingrained sense of hospitality that comes from the top,” she says, adding, “Everything we do is to bring people together, making them happy and comfortable.” The prevalent sky blue is punctuated by shots of orange manifested in a variety of furnishings from periods ranging from contemporary to vintage
Spanish wicker—“the play of modern and traditional,” she says. 

Members now find more seating areas to gather in the courtyard, salon, lounge, and loggia. The whole look is light but sophisticated with a touch of whimsy, such as in the hand-painted overdoor decoration, inspired by a 16th-century Italian motif; the same flourish is repeated in mirror frames. Curated modern art contributes to the juxtaposition of contemporary and traditional elements. “My mandate,” Branca says, “was to bring life to this structure.” 

The Moorings lightened and brightened the interior spaces of their clubhouses, keeping with the clean look of traditional coastal decor
The Moorings lightened and brightened the interior spaces of their clubhouses, keeping with the clean look of traditional coastal decor.

The Moorings: ‘A Coastal Palette, Please’

At The Moorings clubhouse, “gold and old” became “new and blue.”

“We felt it was getting tired,” says Moorings general manager Craig Lopes of the 20-year-old clubhouse, originally designed by Peacock & Lewis and decorated by Image Design. Tastes and trends have changed over the last two decades. Members want the interiors to be lighter and brighter. In terms of function, “Now all the members want outdoor/indoor al fresco dining,” says Lopes. 

The Moorings
The Moorings

Consolidating clubhouse projects and listening to the 1,050 members’ wishes, Lopes and his team refurbished the upstairs and part of the downstairs and added more outdoor dining. At a cost of $2 million over a two-year period completed in summer 2022, the clubhouse, “built to have a warm feeling, like a home,” according to Lopes, now actually feels like a coastal Florida one.

Designers Kelli Larson and Kristin Nichols from Image Design formed their own Atlanta-based firm five years ago. Lopes kept them on for the freshening of the Hawks Nest golf clubhouse a few years ago and later contracted them to redo The Moorings’ clubhouse. 

Included were a huge dining room, entryway, stairways, hallways, locker rooms, pro shop, meeting rooms, and outdoor spaces. According to Nichols, the design duo’s biggest challenge was “working with existing conditions,” the most glaring of which was outdated, honey-toned stained wood—everywhere. The design committee welcomed the proposed changes, and all those miles of trim received paint in the fresh coastal palette of blues and neutrals. 

A new dance floor in the dining room, art commissioned from local artists, and 300 dining tables custom made in Alabama are just a few of the highlights of the massive project. 

“The club started out as traditional, but we cleaned it up a bit, made it more transitional, with clean-lined furniture—but still that nod to tradition,” says Nichols.

And no gold in sight.

Golf Clubhouse renovations brought in brighter, lighter colors. Photo by John's Island Real Estate Company
Golf Clubhouse renovations brought in brighter, lighter colors. Photo by John’s Island Real Estate Company

John’s Island Club: A Seat at the Table

The team at John’s Island Club reimagined its Golf Club several years ago, overhauling the underutilized existing structure and implementing current trends, members’ requests, and amenities unimagined. 

From arrival under the porte cochere, the entry announces it is “lighter, more inviting, and friendly,” according to acting general manager David Colclough. Inside, he says, “All the rooms in the front of the building received lighter paint, lighter fabrics, very fresh and inviting with beautiful artwork.” On this main level, however, the most dramatic change was made to the dining venues, which had been “dark and typically clubby,” he says. 

Interior designer Janet Perry of J. Banks Design Group based in Hilton Head, South Carolina created three dining areas that are slightly different but flow into one another. “We want multiple experiences in different locations,” says Perry. “They had this fabulous room that nobody wanted to go into; it was dark and dreary.” 

Fire pits were added with sunset views. Photo by John's Island Real Estate Company
Fire pits were added with sunset views. Photo by John’s Island Real Estate Company

To address the popularity of casual dining, the team created a new destination called Jack’s. It has a large bar and community tables, and it doesn’t take reservations. “We want to make sure there’s a seat for everyone,” says Perry. 

The adjacent Oak Room has a different menu and is slightly more formal. And at the north end, a new wine bar awaits with its display of 1,800 bottles. Perry covered all the terraces for an outdoor connection and enjoyment of golf course and sunset views.

The Market is for quick food options. Fire pits were added with sunset views. Photo by John's Island Real Estate Company
The Market is for quick food options. Fire pits were added with sunset views. Photo by John’s Island Real Estate Company

Downstairs, Perry created The Market by taking 12 feet from the oversize pro shop, added fire features with additional seating, and terraced the length of the building, accommodating 500 people. Throughout the Golf Club, the thoughtful, built-in flexibility offers John’s Island’s 1,394 members a variety of experiences, and a comfortable seat wherever they choose to go.

The common denominator of all these clubs’ renovation projects is the fostering of connections: to the outdoors, to other members, to staff and management. We can now see the ocean, revel in our coastal palette, interact with one another, and easily find our way. It is an ever-evolving process. The aspiration? Happiness. 

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