By Mike McCombs
Fripp Island Golf & Beach Resort has been acquired by Seascape Hospitality Group. The resort announced the sale in a news release Thursday, Jan. 12.
According to the release, Seascape founders Joe Guerra of Long Beach, Calif., and Adam Fuller of Atlanta will manage the operations of the property moving forward through their management company.
The property had been owned by the Wardle family since 2002. Prior to that, according to Director of Marketing Hannah Nichols, the Wardles had been heavily involved in the resort as lenders.
Nichols emphasized the sale affects “just the resort and its assets – the pools the shops, restaurants, etc.”
Specific terms of the sale will not be released, she said.
“We look forward to serving our five hundred co-workers, fourteen hundred members, thousands of annual visitors, and the surrounding Beaufort/Lowcountry communities: all vital to our success,” Guerra said in the release. “We thank the Wardle family for selecting us as their successors and future stewards of this multi-generational resort. We intend to build on the Wardles’ previous success while elevating the resort to the next level of relevance.”
The new owners will retain the existing management and operating team, with a targeted focus on preparing the resort for the next generation of visitors and property owners.
“We are keeping the vast majority of employees,” Hannah said. “We lost a couple that had the opportunity to come on board, but that’s it.”
If anything, Hannah believes the resort will add employees.
“We’re expanding hours,” she said, “so that’s something I see coming.”
Hannah said reaction to the sale has been positive from most of the existing team.
“We’re really excited. With the acquisition comes a great deal of capital. There are plans to pay a good deal of attention to the resort,” Hannah said. “A lot of our facilities are tired. I think the investment in and revitalization of our facilities will be significant and quick.”
“We plan to elevate the hospitality experience and enhance the magic of Fripp Island by revitalizing and modernizing the property’s amenities, while preserving the storied history that so many love about Fripp Island,” Fuller said in the release.
Hannah said there are plans to survey club members and the community.
A private resort for many for generations, Fripp Island has been a pirate hideaway, private hunting range, and a filming location for several classic films through the years. Today it is a private and gated residential resort community located on a barrier island at the end of U.S. Highway 21.
Members and guests of the resort experience full vacation home rental services, two resort-quality golf courses, a full-service marina, several retail stores, a professional racquet club, three beach clubs with multiple pools, a fitness center, a nature and activity center, excursions and personal transportation rentals, multiple restaurant venues, and more than three miles of unspoiled beach.
“This is an exciting time for Fripp Island Golf & Beach Resort. The new ownership intends to significantly contribute to and support the operations, facilities, and employees here,” outgoing owner Douglas Wardle said in the release. “My family and I are proud to entrust the property to new owners who are fully capitalized and committed to perpetuating the success of Fripp Island for future generations.”
“The new owners are very aware of the legacy of Fripp Island. They are attuned to what this place means to most people,” Hannah said. “They know that there are generational memories and experiences here. Their values are the ones that are already shared with the community.”
Mike McCombs is the Editor of The Island News and can be reached at TheIslandNews@gmail.com.