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How a North Strand golf resort will be revitalized with a new hotel, other amenities

A 150-room hotel, driving range featuring Toptracer technology, and practice and entertainment facility are planned, and a 50,000-square-foot convention center will reopen.

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A company headed by Robert Hill of Riptide Builders and Parker Smith of the golf package company Golf Trek has purchased land and amenities within the three-course Sea Trail Golf Resort, and plans to revitalize the community with renovations and development.

Sea Trail Investments, LLC has purchased the closed Sea Trail Convention Center, a Village Activity Center, and 15 acres of land adjacent to the convention center in Sunset Beach, N.C.

Plans for the 15-acre tract include a 150-room resort-style hotel, driving range featuring Toptracer technology, and a new practice and entertainment facility.

The company plans to immediately begin an extensive cleaning and renovation of the 50,000-square-foot convention center that has been closed since 2018 in the hopes of reopening within a couple months, with catering available to groups.

“We think there is a lot of demand for local HOAs and residents, and also businesses,” Smith said.

A golf cart rental business is planned, as are additional upgrades to parking lots, outdoor reception areas, lighting and signage.

The Sea Trail property was purchased from Chinaway Corporate Development LLC, a company headed by Chinese businessman Zhenquan Pan. Riptide Builders partner Donald Bean is also a partner in the new company.

Chinaway purchased the 2,000-acre Sea Trail community in 2013 at a Chapter 11 bankruptcy auction for $8.5 million, and the resort has had a lot of turnover at key positions since.

Sea Trail features 18-hole courses designed by Dan Maples, Rees Jones and Willard Byrd, which all opened between 1986 and 1990. The courses and two clubhouses, including one that contains Magnolia’s Restaurant, are still owned by Chinaway.

The courses are part of the Myrtle Beach Golf Trail cooperative that is overseen by East Coast Golf Management.

A hole on the Sea Trail Maples Course. (Golf Tourism Solutions photo)

Heavily invested

Both Hill and Smith are already involved in operations and development projects at Sea Trail.

Smith, who also owns the Affordable Large Properties property management company, renovated and reopened the Village Activity Center (VAC) that includes House’s Place at the Beach restaurant and catering business through a lease agreement in 2019, when he also took over a Sea Trail condo and villa rental business.

The activity center also features an outdoor pool, heated indoor pool and hot tub, tiki bar, dining room with indoor and outdoor seating, a private dining room, game room with pool table and shuffleboard, and locker rooms with showers. Renovations are planned for the VAC, which has term memberships available to residents and the general public.

Hill has been building homes in Sea Trail for about a decade, and purchased all remaining undeveloped land in Sea Trail – aside from the 15 acres purchased last week – in July 2020.

Riptide has worked with the Sea Trail Master Association on a number of development, infrastructure and improvement projects.

It has remodeled the interior of the Maples Activity Center and added an elevator, beautified property entrance walls, enhanced landscaping including at the community chapel, installed ornamental street signs and posts, and invested in ongoing stormwater repairs.

Renovations to Sea Trail’s largest amenity center pool and pool deck are underway and will include the addition of a new 10- to 15-person in-ground spa.

According to a Sea Trail Investments press release, Riptide developments within Sea Trail include:

• Byrd Watch, a 49-lot single-family home subdivision that is near completion.

• The Townhomes on Eastwood Bluff, an 88-unit townhome and amenity project that is more than halfway complete

• Sawmill Townhomes, a 27-unit townhome project that will soon commence

• Gulls Landing, a 93-site single-family home project that will soon commence

• Pelican Reserve, a single-family home project in the final stages of engineering and permitting that will include a large clubhouse, pool, pickleball courts, large dog park with agility and training facilities, community dock and nature overlook, and green space areas featuring gazebos and terraces. Pelican Reserve will give residents a new entry to Sea Trail from Angels Trace Road.

“Our vision is for Sea Trail to thrive as a resort community that caters to both year-round residents and visitors,” Hill said in the release. “We have a vision centered around quality residential and commercial development and amenities. We are committed to Sea Trail, and with the Town of Sunset Beach’s partnership and cooperation we will make our vision to revitalize Sea Trail a reality.”

Sea Trail Investments might have additional investment in the community forthcoming, and is courting additional investors.

Resident and past HOA president Roz Dahlen said in the release that Riptide has expressed a desire to improve the golf courses.

“Riptide has repeatedly stated their commitment to not only preserving, but enhancing, the golf courses in Sea Trail to their full potential,” Dahlen said in the release. “For the golf courses and the convention center to succeed, our community must have quality practice facilities, golf courses and lodging opportunities, which I believe Riptide will bring to Sea Trail. They’ve got us on the right track.”

Sea Trail Golf Resort is in Sunset Beach, N.C. (Golf Tourism Solutions video)

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