Seeing Recreation Red
By Felicia M. Koretsky
Member Since 2010
Pursuing a master’s degree, managing a real estate business, competing twice-a-week in Mahjong and Pickleball, being the president of The Academy’s PTO, taking Grandma to doctor appointments, handling a dog, two cats, a snake, a gerbil, a spider, fish, and four children under the age of 11 has Amanda Asman seeing red.
“I use Recreation for everything,” said Asman, who along with husband Carl, moved to ORC full-time during Covid. Her parents, Beverly and Brian Platner, and grandmother, Judi Walker, also have places on The Reef. “They are so responsive and responsible. I don’t have to stress.”
Asman has hired Recreation staff to plan all the details of her kids’ annual birthday parties, to be greeters at a school fundraiser, organize sports activities, consult with on reptile care, and scout entertainment for her father’s 70th birthday party.
Pairing khakis with recognizably red polos are the nearly 20 full-time and seasonal employees who make up the Ocean Reef Recreation Department.
With trends shifting in the hospitality industry toward customizable experiences, the Recreation team offers a sizable menu of 100+ add-on options, expanding the team’s services beyond pool activities, camp programs, and corporate events.
Using their creative spirit and ability to think outside the sandbox, Asman joins a growing list of Members reaching to the Rec team to plan events for the adults in the family, too.
“My 40th is coming up,” she said. “So naturally I’m going to call Recreation and get their help. I can just give them a theme and they run with it.”
The Recreation Department has been venturing into the specialized services space, said Chris Nelson, assistant director of Recreation. Anything the team offers can be tailored to groups of any size, whether you’re looking to spice up family reunions, girls’ weekends, or wedding welcome receptions.
Nicknamed funologists, this crew has an impressive resume of talents. Event planner, tour guide, promoter, mediator, sitter, nature lover, bonfire starter, counselor, lifeguard, entertainer, coach, driver, facilitator, game show host, and smoothie mixer, the Rec staff are capable and cross-trained. Team members can morph from one role to another, often on the same shift. A day could mean hosting one group’s bicycle tour, then another’s scavenger hunt, then hosting a trivia, Bingo, or Family Feud game, then capping off an evening with glow-in-the dark beach games. With as many as 20 separate activities going on at any one time, The Reef rains red everywhere.
The team’s dedication to their jobs is evident in the number of long-tenured employees, including Mike Neves (pool service manager) and Jeanette Rivera (naturalist), both at The Reef for 13 years, Kyle Lynch (recreation manager) and Melissa Mirocha (administrative supervisor), both 11 years, Doug Lafond (beach supervisor), 7 years, and Molly Lechelt (recreation supervisor), five years. Most Rec staff have college degrees in sports, recreation, hospitality, or tourism management. Familiar fixtures on Buccaneer Island, these concierges of entertainment have created many close bonds with many Members, each viewing the other as extensions of their own families.
Nelson came to The Reef on a summer college internship, then hired full-time as an activity coordinator when he was 23. Now he often gets greeted on the beach by his first campers, now teens. His first group of pre-teens, who he used to spend hours with in the Rec Room playing ping pong, are now in their 20s. They, too, stop by Chris’ office when they’re in town to chat about their grownup lives and careers.
“Ocean Reef is a special place to a lot of associates because many of us have grown up alongside our Members over the years,” said Nelson, now 35.
For a fresh spin on your next get-together, the Rec team can help you create, coordinate, and execute the perfect plan. With a vast selection of party ideas and activities, including your own fishing or cornball tournament, paddleboard yoga or mixology class, tour of The Reef, golf cart road rally, favorite ball sport, card and lawn game, the team can fine-tune your event into a personalized and memorable experience. For more information, call Recreation at 305-501-5503.