We all know how much Ocean Reef Club loves to celebrate anniversaries. We saw it with the fabulous turnout for our Historic Celebration Weekend in April, commemorating 70 years as a Club and 25 years of Member ownership. Fantastic memories… But as I drove through the front gate this week, I couldn’t help but think of another kind of milestone in our Club’s history – the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Irma – making landfall at Ocean Reef September 10, 2017. Historic. Devastating for so many. One of the most powerful storms ever seen in the Atlantic. I think it’s fair to say that it affected nearly every person in Florida in some fashion.
What’s most deserving of our recognition as we approach this one-year anniversary is recalling the wonderful way Club and ORCA Management and Associates rolled up their sleeves and tackled the monumental job of putting our community and Club back together. The progress made within just six weeks was startling. Massive amounts of debris had been cleared, the flag was raised at The Point, Buccaneer Island reopened, and we even hosted a special golf tournament in honor of the newly opened Hammock Course. Associates and Members alike embodied a spirit of strength, pride and gratitude. By the time we were ringing in the New Year with our families and friends gathered, enjoying festive dinners, live music, dancing and fireworks over the beach, many were saying, “What hurricane?”
Yet two of our beloved spaces required more than clean up and fast track repairs. The Point and the Islander. Both suffered profound damage. But now that we are well past the difficult permitting and design phases, we are very excited about the progress. The Point, which had to be completely rebuilt, should reopen late September. An official ribbon cutting ceremony to be announced early November. The Islander, with enhanced Pelican bar, sushi counter and outdoor dining spaces, is scheduled to reopen in February. We are doing everything possible to bring both to you as quickly
as possible. We all miss these iconic venues.
And of utmost importance, of course, are the many lessons learned from Irma. As thorough as our extensive hurricane manuals and management and associate training are, there’s nothing to replace the exercise of dealing with a crisis in real time. Irma gave both the Club and ORCA the opportunity to proactively assess the things that went well…and work on those areas where we can do better. One example of the improvements the Club has underway post-Irma, is the installation of quick connects for mobile generators and stand alone generators, to get generated power to more key operational areas quickly.
Once we put Irma behind us, membership support of our events for the season came on strong and felt more spirited than ever. The Club’s financial results have been excellent, the Social Member waitlist remains a very strong 200, and the Member satisfaction scores maintain an impressive 94.5%. The momentum has continued throughout the summer…and we expect it to remain into the coming season with the return of all your favorite Member events, including the nearly sold-out Vintage Weekend.
Your Club Management and Associates have been busy planning for an exciting and memorable season just ahead of us. And your Board of Directors is about to hold its annual Retreat at the end of this month to continue to lay the groundwork for not only the coming year, but also with a focus on charting the course for our collective future.
We have a lot to look forward to… see you at The Reef!