The New Jersey club and resort’s 200-plus acre property was purchased by Accountable Equity, a private equity group that owns Renault Winery Resort. The site, which includes a 194-acre golf course, 31-room boutique hotel, and a 35,000-sq.-ft. clubhouse that contains restaurant space, will be rebranded as LBI National Golf & Resort.
The owners of the historic Jersey Shore getaway Renault Winery Resort have acquired Sea Oaks Country Club and Golf Resort in a $6.5 million transaction, the Philadelphia Business Journal reported.
Accountable Equity, the private equity group that owns Renault as well as Kent Island Resort in Stevensville, Maryland, closed on the deal for the more than 200-acre property in Little Egg Harbor Township on April 25, the Philadelphia Business Journal reported. The site includes a 194-acre golf course, 31-room boutique hotel, and a 35,000-sq.-ft. clubhouse that contains restaurant space. There is also more than 15,000 sq. ft. of event space including ballrooms, private meeting rooms, board rooms and spaces that overlook Atlantic City.
Accountable Equity is headquartered at Renault Winery Resort in Egg Harbor City, N.J., said president and co-founder Josh McCallen, telling the Philadelphia Business Journal that the winery is the second-oldest in U.S. history and opened when Abraham Lincoln was president. McCallen’s company Vivȃmee Hospitality handles hospitality management for Accountable Equity’s existing properties and will do the same for Sea Oaks, which will be rebranded as LBI National Golf & Resort.
LBI National Golf & Resort will reopen the golf course on June 1 in time for the summer season, while other components of the property, like the restaurants, will start to debut later in the year, McCallen told the Philadelphia Business Journal. Before Accountable Equity closed on the property it sold $1.4 million worth of advance memberships for the resort, indicating the site is an “in-demand property,” he added.
Within the first couple months of operations, LBI National Golf & Resort will employ up to 50 employees, the Philadelphia Business Journal reported. By next year that is anticipated to jump up to 175 workers as the property becomes fully operational.
About $4.5 million worth of renovations are planned at the resort, McCallen told the Philadelphia Business Journal. That investment will go toward projects like “a world-class wedding venue upgrade” intended to rival the best properties in New Jersey, hotel room improvements, and implementing two restaurants.
The first concept will be a beer garden that includes entertainment, and the second will be a year-round restaurant specializing in fresh, healthy farm-to-table cuisine with vegan options, the Philadelphia Business Journal reported.
Local designer Barbara Balongue is taking the lead on LBI National Golf & Resort’s design, McCallen said. Balongue is known for her design work with popular Greater Philadelphia hospitality brand White Dog Cafe.
During its life as Sea Oaks, the resort experienced some turmoil and ultimately filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in spring 2020, indicating upwards of $15 million worth of debt between its country club and golf course operations, the Philadelphia Business Journal reported.
The property was closed throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, though staff was kept on to maintain the grass of the golf course. That upkeep enables Accountable Equity to open that portion in time for summer, McCallen said.
Accountable Equity seeks to be an “approachable private equity” group that allows everyday people and business owners to own a portion of world-class resorts, McCallen told the Philadelphia Business Journal. The group has more than 2,000 investors, and more than 100 families are anticipated to have a stake in the LBI National Golf & Resort project.
Half of the resort’s business is expected to come from owners of the 600 affluent homes that are within walking distance of the site, McCallen told the Philadelphia Business Journal. Area realtors have projected that the completed resort will increase property values for those homeowners by 15% to 20%, he added.
The other half of the resort’s business will come from vacationers to the Long Beach Island area — those that own vacation homes there and otherwise, the Philadelphia Business Journal reported. That will be a blend of people from across the Mid-Atlantic region, including North Jersey, the Manhattan metro area, and Greater Philadelphia, said McCallen, who is from Norristown.
The acquisition taps into a surge in the “drive-to leisure” segment of the hospitality industry that was driven by COVID-19, McCallen told the Philadelphia Business Journal. The experiences offered by Accountable Equity have an “anti-metaverse” quality in that they are experiential and offer outdoor activities, including the golf course, private gardens, and fire pits.
“Just like Airbnb is doing great, we’re doing great,” McCallen said, noting that sister property Renault has been sold out every weekend this year.
Accountable Equity is looking to acquire similar additional properties later this year.