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February 2020

South Carolina’s Belfair Makeover includes food and fun

By Scott Kauffman

There is nothing low-key about the amenity-rich nature of the Lowcountry private golf community, Belfair. Less than a year after embarking on a $12.5 million round of capital improvement projects highlighted by a major outdoor dining expansion at its clubhouse, the private club was dusting off its latest round of best-in-class dining facilities and newly enhanced amenities at the reimagined Sports and Activities Campus.

After opening 24 years ago, Belfair, a low-density development on 1,100 acres in Bluffton, South Carolina, just five miles from Hilton Head Island, quickly became known for its pair of highly acclaimed Tom Fazio-designed courses. But the most recent club enhancements and new attractions designed by Atlanta-based Kuo Diedrich Chi Architects further proves where the future of private club membership is going:  food, more food, and lifestyle-oriented places from family-friendly pools to health-and-wellness centers to indoor-outdoor gathering spots for people of all ages.

When Belfair completed the initial phase of club improvements a year ago, members celebrated a new four-season dining sunroom with an expanded veranda and fire pit, an indoor-outdoor bar, and a screened porch with retractable electric screens. Belfair said the scope of the 2018 expansion resulted in an additional 2,000 square feet of space, increased cover capacity for 60 people and a larger fire pit that accommodates up to eight people. The signature Belfair 1811 Grille bar was also expanded and received an updated design “Our outdoor dining expansion has been very popular with the members,” Belfair Property Owners Association president Ray Pilch was quoted as saying at the time. “We wanted the ability to experience the wonderful views of the marsh and the river in a relaxed, yet sophisticated environment and are very pleased with the result.”

According to Pilch, Belfair immediately gained a 20 percent increase in revenues and diners when the new venues opened in December 2018. With the completely revamped Sports and Activities Campus, Pilch said it shows yet another major effort in being the “premier community in the Lowcountry.”
Going into the new year, Diedrich said Belfair’s Sports and Activities Campus was “booming” with peak season membership activity, particularly at the expanded Wellness Center that now features more group exercise studios, expanded cardio and fitness training areas and equipment and new locker wing with massage rooms. Other popular new sports and activities-related attractions/amenities are a new social hall building for clubs to meet or private parties to use; dedicated new tennis lounge and pro’s office; and upgraded family-friendly pool that features a children’s splash pad and landscape and shade structures for the southern heat.

Additionally, the indoor pool was completely renovated with a new roof, fenestration, finishes and dedicated bathrooms and showers, and a new and inviting social and cultural center with a variety of outdoor amenities is being master planned and landscaped.

Last but not least, Belfair members also gained another popular new dining destination called the Bistro. Described as a “sophisticated casual” venue, the Bistro is the hub of the new community center and serves casual fare in both indoor and outdoor environments.

To no surprise, this ongoing trend of serving up sophisticated food and beverages in a casual yet elegant setting is already proving to be a hit at Belfair. According to architect Mark Diedrich, the Bistro had a “very successful first couple of months business” after opening last October with waits both in the afternoon and evening hours.

For instance, in one busy stretch last December, the 32-seat restaurant did over 250 covers in one day. That, by no means, is any low-key day of Lowcountry hospitality.

 

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