COVID Dominates Town Hall Discussion
With a full agenda containing key topics from Coronavirus safety and progress of Capital Projects to Financial Results, new Dining Venues, the 2020 Census results and Homestead Air Reserve Base, Ocean Reef Club Chairman Bob Manzo dedicated his November 20th opening remarks and the majority of his presentation to addressing the issue that is at the forefront in every Members’ mind and driving every Club initiative, the Coronavirus.
Mr. Manzo emphasized that the approach to date by the Board and Club Management has been to follow the safety guidelines established by the CDC, the State of Florida, medical experts, and our own Medical Center. Mr. Manzo noted, “The Club has dramatically changed its operating approach in every venue as a result of the pandemic.” He referred the Membership to the Club’s website, (oceanreef.com/coronavirus), and the letter sent to Members in August detailing specific COVID protocols. He said, “The welfare of all Members, their guests and our Associates is the most important thing we have here at the Ocean Reef Club.”
Additionally he comments that, “While our new protocols are difficult to get used to, and for many deemed to be overly cautious, they have worked very well.” The Medical Center has reported 22 positive cases to date with all infected parties recovering fully.
Mr. Manzo stated, “on behalf of the Club and your Board of Directors, we thank Messrs. Ken Karl and Mike Berman (Medical Center Board Chair and incoming Chair), Keith Young (CEO), and the entire Medical Center Board and most importantly the doctors and healthcare professionals for their advice, concern and care for everyone in the Ocean Reef community.
He urged the Members to remain vigilant to the safety protocols below:
1. Wear masks
2. Stay socially distant
3. Wash your hands frequently
4. Stay home if you are not feeling well and get tested ASAP
Most importantly, Mr. Manzo highlighted the upcoming holiday season and the inherent risks of visitors entering the community. He said, “In the strongest way possible we ask that you make anyone visiting you get tested 3-4 days before arriving at the Club.” He explained that the Club has no legal authority to mandate testing but Equity Members can insist their family and guests get tested.
“The pre-arrival testing is critical,” stated Mr. Manzo, explaining that relying on testing at the Medical Center after arrival is too late. Additionally, the Medical Center does not have adequate test kits to test all guests and Members.
Mr. Manzo spent several minutes outlining questions the Board and Management Team have received from Members, they are:
Q. Only let Equity Members come to Ocean Reef
A. Legally Equity Members can not be prohibited from bringing
guests to Ocean Reef. Also, all Members have the legal right to come to Ocean Reef Club.
Q. Test everyone weekly
A. Legally, testing cannot be mandatory by Ocean Reef Club. Secondarily, the Medical Center cannot obtain thousands of test kits on a daily/weekly basis.
Q. Close all of the Club’s amenities
A. Florida currently does not have any limitations on occupancy. The Club has found reducing occupancy has been effective (Restaurants at 50%, Spa, Fitness Center at 40%), and will revisit these levels as the situation dictates.
Q. Stop working on all Club construction projects
A. Contractors on Club property are temperature checked daily and stay solely on the project site. There is no interaction with the Membership at large.
Q. If Club Associates feel ill, they should be told to stay home
A. Yes, that has been the policy since March.
Q. Why are there contractors at Wynn’s?
A. The Club does not own/operate Wynn’s. The owners of Wynn’s have been very sensitive to the Club’s safety concerns and have implemented many protocols.
More will be implemented including outdoor pick up of lunch orders (see pg. 5 for full details).
Q. Why not eliminate all group business?
A. More than 92% of all group business has been eliminated. 50% of the remaining business is Member Events. The other 50% are Member-sponsored events. In total, over the next 6-8 months, less than 2,000 room nights are booked.
With that, Mr. Manzo thanks the Membership for their adherence to the safety protocols and asked each Member to be respectful of each Members’ views during this challenging time and to call him, or any Board Member with questions or suggestions.
Major Capital Projects
Updates were provided on the three major projects, each of which are in varying stages of completion. The Associate Garage, expected to open mid-December, will provide more than 400 parking spaces for Associates, freeing up parking for Members throughout the community. The Ocean Room, which started with challenges and delays due to necessary structural repairs, is going to begin opening in phases at the end of 2020. The positive note is that the useful life of the building has been extended 25 years with these repairs. The Golf Clubhouse, getting ready to take shape, is on budget and on schedule for a winter 2021 opening. Mr. Manzo emphasized that these projects continue without assessments or need for any outside financing due to the coronavirus situation.
Mr. Manzo reviewed the Club’s financial situation at a high level, comparing the projection that was made at April’s Annual Meeting to the current 2020 actuals. The Club will beat its forecasted profitability by over $6 million! The results show the diligent work by the Club’s President, Alex Tonarelli, and the Club leadership team to manage costs and keep expenses down during a time when revenues were anticipated to be down due to the impact of Covid. The financial report for the full fiscal year of 2020 will be presented at the January 22nd Town Hall meeting.
Both Membership and Real Estate, as presented by Ray Larkin, Ocean Reef Club Vice Chairman and Bob Manzo respectively, have demonstrated that not all categories have been negatively impacted by the Coronavirus. Ocean Reef Club’s safe and secure environment, COVID protocols and the presence of the Medical Center, have contributed to the acceleration of both in the last six months. Membership, as Mr. Larkin showed, posted 361 Members to the 2020 waitlist, the largest number since the beginning of the wait list in 2015. Real Estate continues to thrive with transactions up 10% and average sales price up by $200k. Mr. Manzo highlighted in the financial presentation that, “both Membership and Real Estate have greatly contributed to the financial stability of the Club during the pandemic, along with Club leadership’s focus on expense and payroll management. We are in wonderful shape financially.”
The Season Ahead
As acknowledged by all, the unprecedented challenges presented by a global pandemic have caused a different way of thinking, behaving and ultimately living. Alex Tonarelli, Ocean Reef Club President, opened by thanking the Board and Associates for the tremendous support, time and effort that has gone into creating a safe environment for Members and Associates. He also thanked the Membership for the tremendous flexibility and patience demonstrated during this time.
His presentation focused on how the Management Team and Associates have planned and adapted for the upcoming season. Much of this is the result of creative thinking to maximize dining opportunities. During the summer Port O’Call, Reef Hut, Raw Bar, Gianni and Toski’s all underwent renovations in order to provide expanded venues for all Members to enjoy with outdoor seating and social distancing a priority. Entirely new venues were created at both Palm Court and on the tennis courts beside Town Hall for this purpose.
Mr. Tonarelli emphasized throughout, “The safety of Members and Associates has been top of mind in every operating decision made during these difficult and active months.”
2020 Census Results
With a reminder that the Census was completed prior to the pandemic’s outbreak, Richard Weinstein, SVP of Membership, provided a preliminary view of the Census results. As the 2020 Census was the third in 10 years, the findings allow baseline comparisons and changes along with the confirmation of patterns and trends. Perhaps most exciting and relatable to the activity of the three major Capital Projects, is to see how the Census in 2010 and 2015 served as a guide to the Club’s Board to study and ultimately move forward with eight different renovations to Club amenities. After all, as in 2015, 87% of Members continue to want the facilities maintained in a first class condition, confirming the importance of the Club’s major capital projects. The Census can be viewed online at oceanreef.com/Census and also through the brochure being mailed to all Members next month.
Homestead Air Reserve Base
Teresa Holmes, past Club Chairman has a new title, Chairman of the Everglades Protection Alliance (EPA). The EPA, led by Mrs. Holmes along with Alan Goldstein, Tom Davidson and Bill Nutt, is a non-profit 501(c)3 that has joined forces with an Everglades coalition to track the new effort to build a cargo freight center at the Air Reserve Base in Homestead, focused on the negative impact to the Everglades and the Ocean Reef community.
Located between Everglades National Park to the west, Biscayne National Park to the east and the continent’s only living coral reef to the south, its proximity to critical protected areas and the area’s ecosystem means a direct impact to the health of South Florida’s water supply, tourism economy, public health and quality of life.
Members of the EPA are involved on a day-to-day basis to assess the threat and will continue to provide updates through the Ocean Reef Press and TORN.
To watch the full Town Hall presentation, visit oceanreef.com/TownHall.