An Outsider’s Inside View of Bay Creek’s Beach Club
By GEORGE SOUTHERN
Cape Charles Wave
January 27, 2014
When I moved to the Town of Cape Charles four years ago, I didn’t realize that the majority of the Town would be off-limits to me. Sure, I knew that Bay Creek was a gated community, but I didn’t think I would be banned from riding my bicycle over there.
That’s because, as a college student in the 1970s, I worked construction one summer on Hilton Head Island, where Sea Pines Plantation looks like it must have been the prototype for Bay Creek. Cars entering Sea Pines had to have a pass, but bikers and pedestrians could waltz right through. That was before 9/11, of course – maybe things have changed now.
Nevertheless I was shocked to learn of the “unneighborliness” of Bay Creek. German guests at our vacation rental rode bikes over to the gate and naively said they just wanted to “look around.” They were turned away, of course, not knowing the magic words “Coach House Restaurant.” Even my new weekender neighbors, a doctor and his professional wife, also on bikes, were turned away.
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By no means do I intend this as criticism of the friendly guards at the Bay Creek gate, one of whom I know personally. I have friends who live in Bay Creek, and the mention of a friend’s name has always granted me access. But sometimes I cheated, mentioning a friend’s name when I really just wanted to “look around.” And Bobby Thomas finally caught me, embarrassingly enough when my wife and I were giving relatives a tour of Bay Creek, and we got the bums’ rush.
Once burned, twice cautious. I continue to “look around” the gated portion of the town I now call home, but my most recent visit to Bay Creek was under the protection of a genuine property owner. And that is how an outsider gained access to the inside of the new Bay Creek Beach Club.
I want to see Cape Charles prosper – after all, I have a vacation rental business here. And I want to see Bay Creek prosper. (What’s good for General Motors is good for the USA.) But, after seeing the Beach Club inside and out, my reaction is: What were they thinking? How could so much money be spent, only to snatch failure from the jaws of success?
Before spending millions of dollars, a developer is presumed to have a plan. The name “Beach Club” evokes something to do with – with – come on — yes, with the BEACH! The Mexican Riviera comes to mind – a luxurious plaza with sparkling pool, restaurant, and bar just a few steps from a pristine beach and infinite sea vista. Bay Creek could have done a version of this. They have a beautiful beach and they have a beautiful Bay vista. The idea is, if you don’t want to swim in the Bay, you can swim in the pool overlooking the Bay and still be at the beach. But no – the “Beach Club” offers no view of the beach and barely of the water. And my bet is that even though the beach is not that far from the Club, guests will nevertheless drive between the two points.
Absent a beach and water view, one might still expect a “beach club” to offer the other amenities expected of a facility with such a name. Among the most important are FOOD and DRINK. Sadly, the Beach Club comes up short again, offering only a cooler with canned drinks.
But surprise – the Beach Club DOES offer an amenity not hinted at by its name. What the Beach Club really is, is a gym. A first-class gym. A huge gym. A very expensive gym. And – given the median age of Bay Creek homeowners, a gym destined to see very little use. The Bay Creek clientele like to play golf. How many of them, after 18 holes, will choose to visit the gym? I didn’t think so.
Since what we’re really talking about is a first-class gym, let’s think about what people expect for their $5,000 initiation fee and $90 monthly dues: Plenty of shiny treadmills, ellipticals, weight machines, and the like? They got it. But there’s something crucially lacking: an indoor pool. That’s what the majority of fitness buffs willing to lay out big bucks expect to be included – an indoor lap pool. Bay Creek can only say it’s coming in “Phase II” – no date given. There’s also no sauna and no Jacuzzi.
While the gym portion of the Beach Club is impressive, the “Lounge” area is nothing but depressing. This is where everyone has the opportunity to kick back and – do what? There’s no bar, there’s no music. Oh yes, at one end above a mantelpiece is a flat panel TV, no larger than the clientele likely have in their own living rooms. And on the far end is a pool table. If by some miracle I received a complimentary lifetime pass to the Beach Club, I still can’t imagine ever spending time in the “Club Lounge.”
The Beach Club also looks to be a real polarizer for the Bay Creek community. For the first time, the majority of Bay Creek residents will get to experience that “outsider” feeling — because unless you’re a Beach Club member, you’re not admitted.
In conclusion, for some “balance,” here is Bay Creek’s own description of the new Beach Club:
With sweeping views of the Chesapeake Bay, our incredible new Beach Club and Fitness Center features 19,000 square feet of fun and fitness. This member-only amenity located in Bayside Village is a year-round amenity you’ll love!
• 2,800 square-foot Members’ Lounge
• Circuit and strength training area featuring equipment from Free Motion, Hoist and Cybex
• Cardio equipment such as treadmills, bikes and elliptical machines from Cybex and Octane
• Upscale locker rooms for men and women
• Two outdoor pools
• Splash zone for children
January & February
Monday – Thursday 7 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Friday – Sunday 7 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Experience the best of Bay Creek with a Sports Membership.
• Unlimited use of the Beach Club and Fitness Center
• 12 discounted rounds of golf per year at our Signature courses by Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus
• 15% off meals at Coach House Tavern and on Golf Pro Shop purchases
Our Sports Membership program includes a $5,000 refundable deposit with monthly dues of $90 for the entire family.