Business

Harbour Town Yacht Club gets a $1.5 million makeover

Plantation Interiors employee Everette Christopher installs new furniture into one of the suites at the Harbour Town Yacht Club on Tuesday afternoon in Sea Pines.
Plantation Interiors employee Everette Christopher installs new furniture into one of the suites at the Harbour Town Yacht Club on Tuesday afternoon in Sea Pines. Sarah Welliver

The Harbour Town Yacht Club boasts dramatic views of the marina four stories below and the Calibogue Sound beyond.

However, after functioning as an exclusive, private-equity club for more than 20 years, the accommodations inside were a bit dated.

That's why the club, which occupies the top three floors of the oldest building in Harbour Town and once housed the penthouse of Sea Pines founder Charles Fraser, is undergoing a $1.5 million renovation.

Club officials expect the work, which began Jan. 3 and is scheduled to wrap up March 1, will freshen facilities they say contain a spectacular but little-known piece of Hilton Head Island's history.

The club has made upgrades since it started in the late 1980s, when officials found Fraser's penthouse covered in green shag carpet 2 1/2 inches deep, said Mark King, president of The Club Group Ltd., which manages the club.

After hosting two decades worth of celebrities, special events and family vacations, however, club officials decided it was "well past time" for a full overhaul, he said.

"The best sunsets on the island -- bar none," King said as he walked onto the fourth-floor deck from Fraser's former penthouse, which is now a gathering spot for the club's 500-plus members. "But a lot of people don't realize all this is up here."

The story of the club dates to 1970, when Fraser constructed the building that now houses it.

The structure, built at the same time as the famed candy-striped lighthouse nearby, began as condos and then became rental units, King said.

It was bought in 1988 by Memphis businessman Avron Fogelman, who transformed it into the club, King said.

Notable names to spend the night there include Nikki Haley, Walter Cronkite, Mickey Mantle, Bruce Jenner, Jimmy Connors, Jim DeMint, Ray Floyd and dozens of other PGA Tour players.

Today, Sea Pines owns the retail space on the first floor. The club's members own 26 suites above the shops and another five in other buildings across the harbor.

Outsiders are often surprised to learn members do not have to have a boat to join. Less than 20 percent own one.

Equity members pay about $20,000 to buy into the club. After paying dues of about $3,900 a year, a member can stay there for 28 days a year, King said.

Many use the club as a second home or guest house.

The renovation includes new floors, granite countertops, furniture and paint in the club's suites.

The renovation will even extend to the club's yacht, which takes members on cocktail cruises. A man was busy working on the boat Tuesday.

"We're hitting all the corners of the club," general manager Brian Little said.

  Comments