The status quo is unsustainable. The Hammock Beach Resort with its amenities cannot survive without increasing resort guest revenue. Read one resident’s perspective on the importance of this decision.
Palm Coast, FL – December 8, 2014 – At 6:00 P.M. Tuesday, December 9th, the Flagler County Planning and Development Board will have a second chance to make the right decision. They will decide whether or not to recommend approval by the Board of County Commissioners of Salamander’s $72 million proposal to expansion and upgrade the Hammock Beach Resort. At the heart of the debate is a 198 room lodge designed to fit on the footprint of the ageing 20-room beachfront lodge. GoToby.com strongly supports Salamander's proposal.
Existing Lodge Footprint
Tim Hale, a Hammock Beach resident and Managing Partner of Coastal Cloud offers a resident’s perspective on the importance of passing the Salamander proposal. Here is what Tim has to say.
PERSPECTIVE FROM OWNERS & MEMBERS ON THE SALMANDER LODGE PROPOSAL
The Business Case for a New Lodge
- Hammock Beach is a resort community – despite what some would like to believe.
- We depend on resort revenue to subsidize the cost of the amenities & service we enjoy as Club Members -two world-class golf courses, three restaurants with special member menus, a sushi bar, a full service spa, a well-equipped fitness center, dozens of fitness classes, regular member social events, a world class pool complex, member beach chairs – you get the picture – we are blessed.
- Member dues can’t come close to paying for all of this – we need a healthy resort business if we expect what we have to continue.
- The resort is in a slow decline – slowly losing memberships and corporate group business is going elsewhere.
- Competitors in the region have undergone major capital improvements to attract new members and important mid-week corporate business meetings. We are losing ground to competitors
- Without a major capital infusion to re-invigorate Hammock Beach, we’ll see steady erosion in the quality of the assets/facilities of the Club and the level of the amenities and services provided.
Doing nothing is not an option – a $72 million capital investment in our community will result in real improvements to our facilities, amenities, services, and member-only benefits.
Why the Salamander Group
- They are the only true “operators” who have managed our Club since it was opened
- Unlike the real estate developers that ran the Club for years – they know what they are doing
- The Salamander Group, or its executives, have experience in developing and running first-class, high end clubs in resort communities – they have a track record at
- The Sanctuary at Kiawah (https://www.kiawahresort.com/accommodations/the-sanctuary-hotel)
- The Salamander Resort & Spa in Middleburg, VA. (https://www.salamanderresort.com/).
- They have been transparent and collaborative throughout the process of developing plans
- They have listened to owners and members, adjusted their plans accordingly, and worked diligently to meet with anyone with questions, concerns, or suggestions. I'm not sure we could find a better partner.
- Major spa renovation/remodel AND expansion & renovation of the fitness center & aerobic room
- Renovation/remodel of Delfinos restaurant & Loggerheads restaurant/lounge
- New, larger ocean-front restaurant/dining room (Atlantic Grill)
- Expansion of the Ocean Course halfway house with indoor seating & more outdoor seating
- New members only ocean-view club room w/outside seating; new member-only locker rooms
- New members only card/billiards room
- New golf pro shop & staging area
- New 7,000 SF Grande Ballroom to accommodate large member events
- The Ocean Ballroom (in the big house) can’t accommodate our current membership
- New luxury pool complex that is more adult themed
- Improved maintenance of Club assets – golf courses, grounds, buildings, etc. Increased revenue and cash flow enable this to occur.
- Expected increases in property values (based on experience in Kiawah) – the new & improved resort offers improved facilities and amenities, attracting target buyers to the area.
- Expected increase in rental rates for rental program participants – new lodge creates higher price-point for the resort. There is $3 million marketing budget planned for new lodge opening.
- New Lodge buildings sit on the exact same parcel as the existing Lodge building and facilities – revised plan has the new Lodge 15’ FURTHER AWAY from the dune than the existing building.
- New Lodge buildings are same height as the existing Lodge building (actually 2 feet shorter).
- 50 parking spaces for the new Lodge will be under the entry drive, covered, to allow easy access when weather is inclement.
- 150 new jobs (1/2 permanent, 1/2 seasonal) – Flagler County has the second worst unemployment rate in the Florida.
- Secure/preserve the current ~400 Hammock Beach jobs – without these jobs, Flagler County would have the worst unemployment rate in Florida
- Improve the take home $$ of those 500-600 employees because the caliber of the Club & Resort are raised and higher rental rates are realized
- 300+ construction jobs
- Tax revenue – estimated to be $4 million in the first 5 years.
- Estimated $55 million in County spent in first 5 years
- Make the Lodge a desirable destination – Currently worst rated in Flagler County by TripAdvisor #12/12
- County is spending $1 million a year to attract tourists to Flagler County – improved Lodge leverages that investment
Concerns Over a New Lodge
Of course, there is some concern – as there always is with change.
- 2 years of construction will present challenges for everyone. When the existing buildings are taken down, we lose the Atlantic Grill, pro shop, cart/bag storage, locker rooms, member space, and a spinning room. Parking for the golf course could be affected. A thorough transition plan will ensure the inconvenience is kept to a minimum and that alternate plans are developed for the amenities affected. Salamander will work with the members to ensure concerns are identified and addressed.
- Parking, while a concern, should not be a problem based on the County’s assessment of available parking versus requirements. It’s expected that Lodge guests will be required to be valet parked. An optional (small) parking lot on the south side of 16th Road has been proposed. Options for employee parking off site are being explored. Yet, while a concern that may require some changes to operational policies, parking is sufficient to handle the extra visitors to the resort.
- Traffic on 16th Road, the beach, and the golf course are a concern to some. Traffic studies indicate the incremental rooms will not create traffic problems. More people staying at the Lodge will likely increase the traffic on the beach, but probably mid-week when corporate functions will be targeted for events. Not a very heavily used section of the beach now. Golf rounds in 2014 are projected to be about 55,000 for the two courses combined (about 27,000 of which are member rounds). Maximum capacity of the two golf courses, assuming 40 tee times a day & 325 days of operation (at each course) = 104,000 rounds. The worst-case scenario is we get 200 additional rounds per week for 40 weeks of the year, or 8,000 additional rounds – bringing us to 63,000 rounds per year – or still about 60% of max capacity. There will be no problem protecting prime times for members and accommodating incremental play from Lodge guests.
- Environmental concerns rest in two camps – the elimination of native plants (largely scrub oaks and saw palmettos) and potential impact on the turtles. If a parking lot is required on the south side of 16th Road, existing landscaping and some scrub oaks and saw palmettos will be removed, and re-landscaped with specimen trees and shrubs in a way that will minimize the view of the lot from 16th road or the golf course. Laws exist vis-à-vis the types of lighting permitted on beachfront buildings so as not to disturb or confuse the turtles during nesting season. We would expect Salamander to meet or exceed the requirements of these laws.
Salamander has committed to expand the natural dune area, add more trees than they remove, use special lighting on the buildings, and will bring in beach chairs nightly so as not to disturb the turtles during nesting periods. Importantly, Salamander’s management team has experience creating premiere environmentally sensitive areas (Kiawah).
CURRENT LODGE SITE – aerial view
The new lodge is on the same site of the current lodge
- North building is narrower than current lodge
- South building replaces curent member lounge & library, restrooms & pool deck
- Golf cart path moved to east side of buildings & there is additional parking on the south side of 16th road
- New lodge is slightly shorter than current lodge
New lodge is much less imposing on beach versus Hammock Dunes condos, Cinnamon Beach, Hammock Beach Club "big house" and Surf Club
There is plenty of beach space available. Only 20% of resort guests go to the bech – maximum 198 rooms = 396 guests = 80 incremental beach visitors = no encroachment in to Old Salt Park