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Page 26 - Nov. 2012


Seawatch at Island Club: Maintaining a high standard


by Brian Welch


Our resort profile this month takes us to Hilton Head Isle in South Carolina. That’s where you’ll find Seawatch at Island Club. Managed by SPM Resorts and originally designed to be condos, the resort was developed in the mid-1970s.


Seawatch is located next to a freshwater lagoon, and there are three buildings facing the ocean in a “V” formation. The building at the point of the V directly faces the ocean, and the two properties on each side have angular views of the ocean.


Ken Pfeifle is regional vice president of operations for Hilton Head Island properties and general manager of Seawatch at Island Club, as well as Ocean View at Island Club, another SPM Resort-managed property. He told us Seawatch has 68 units, including 58 two-bedroom units, and 10 three-bedroom units.


“The décor within the units is ‘beachy’ and contemporary with today’s design trends,” said Ken. “Redecorations are done using a bid process and at the direction of a professional interior designer. The bed linens feature crisp white coverlets with tan accents. The linens, new for 2012, are of better quality than industry average. Linens are 310 thread count instead of the 180 thread count industry average, and towels are 14-pound weight instead of the 10.5 industry average. The attention to detail in these


areas helps place Seawatch in line with some of the finer hotels and resorts in the area.”


Seawatch recently renovated their kitchens to include granite countertops, new cabinet faces, tile backsplashes, new microwaves and new sinks and faucets. The mattresses are updated on a rolling basis, with about 20 percent of the property’s mattresses being replaced each year. No mattress at the resort is more than 5 years old.


“The board and management recognize that the life of furniture and carpeting within units is approximately 5 to 7 years, so we always have this in mind as a never-ending cycle needing replacement,” said Tom Martin, president of the board of administrators. “Accordingly, we plan within the budgets to account for the need to update and replace these items.”


The board of administrators is composed of five owners, and it’s responsible for overseeing and enhancing the facilities of Seawatch. The board engaged SPM Resorts to manage the day-to-day operations, and this arrangement has been long- term and a great benefit to owners and guests.


Seawatch has a very loyal and stable owner base, which allows the resort to keep its facilities current by having funds available for capital projects. These projects can only be


completed by collection of annual fees. The collection ratio regularly exceeds 95 percent. This accomplishment has allowed the board to plan for the future without needing a capital assessment, and this has been the case for the past 10 years.


Tom told us that one of the greatest management and operations challenges they face is ensuring Seawatch stays at the RCI Gold Crown level. “We have set an expectation at this level for 10 years now, and because of our high quality, our owners and guests continue to come back year after year. As with any high- standard property, we want to stay at this level, and maintaining that takes work.”


As with any resort, a big part of maintaining a high standard is having loyal, hard-working employees. Seawatch is fortunate to have dedicated staff members who have been with the property for many years. Ken has been at Seawatch since 2002, and Shelly Beeson, assistant general manager, has been with the property for 9 years.


Two guest services representatives, Renee and Marian, greet all guests upon check-in and help to provide a quality vacation. Tom Toney, chief of maintenance, along with his team of maintenance technicians, ensure lightning-fast responses to any maintenance issue.


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