Exclusive resort clubs offer a new model in the second home havens
of Rhode Island and Martha’s Vineyard
Written by JOHN BUDRIS
Two islands. two developers. two plush and
private clubs, both with a single mission: to provide members every opportunity to live extraordinarily well in the company of friends and family.
The Carnegie Abbey Club occupies some
450 acres on Narragansett Bay on the west side of Aquidneck
Island in Portsmouth, Rhode Island. Billing itself as a private
sporting estate, the club offers members a championship golf
course, equestrian facilities, yachting and dockage, tennis,
fishing, and around-the-calendar cultural events.
Home ownership is at the core of the development plan.
When the 22-story tower — set on the footprint of a once dilapidated Kaiser Aluminum wire factory — is ready for occupancy in December, Carnegie Abbey will have 143 residential
units, including grand single-family houses and high-rise and
clubhouse condos. Prices start at $950,000 and go up to $15.5
million for club developer J. Brian O’Neill’s tower penthouse,
where, on a clear day, he’ll be able to see four states.
“For all the amenities, and they are considerable,” says
club general manager Steven Downes, “nothing beats a sunset over the water from the clubhouse porch, unless it’s one
with a fine cigar.”
Home ownership at Carnegie Abbey mandates joining
the club. Full membership, which includes golf privileges, is
$175,000, but with a cap of 399 members, only a handful of
slots remain. Social memberships, which have limited or no
golf provisions, are in the $90,000 range.
O’Neill’s Pennsylvania-based company, O’Neill Properties Group, is expanding Carnegie Abbey with an additional
152 home sites, condos, and cottages, plus a new bayside
beach club on an abutting 126-acre parcel recently purchased
from the Weyerhaeuser Corporation. Combined with the
nearby Newport Club and a marina, also being developed by
O’Neill, investment in fine living nears ten figures.
a lobby at Carnegie
Abbey (left) captures
include elegant dining, a
fitness center, pool, and
spa. The Field Club on
(below) is the second
property in the
development. It includes
a manmade pond, a
pool, spa and fitness
center, tennis courts,
and lawn bowling.
the boathouse club on martha’s vineyard started as an
effort to preserve an Edgartown, Massachusetts, harborfront
landmark and evolved into a grand vision. “The old Navigator
restaurant had such history and tradition, but the building was
simply worn out,” says Gerret Conover, who, with business
partners Tom LeClair, Arthur Halleran, and Dan Stanton, is
developing the property into a club offering amenities unlike
any other on the island.
Where the Navigator once stood, a 10,000-square-foot,
shingle-style building designed by architect Patrick Ahearn of
Ahearn/Schopfer and Associates of Boston and Edgartown, is
now under construction. Scheduled to open this summer, the
facility will include indoor dining and meeting areas plus a
separate bar, all with harbor views. Classic powerboats will be
available for members’ use at the private dock just outside the
Boathouse, which will also have a street-level restaurant, retail
shops, and harbor walk open to the public.
A $125,000 club membership will also gain patrons access to The Field Club, also designed by Ahearn, about a mile
outside Edgartown. The new facility will offer five-star amenities on 7½ acres of manicured grounds with a clubhouse, restaurant, three pools, lawn bowling, fitness center and spa, and
a tennis complex that will include composite, clay, and grass
courts. The club will also have a children’s activities director
for summer programs. “We are committed to our members’
entire family,” says Conover.
The four partners have also developed 26 house lots
around The Field Club property. While not part of the club,
the subdivision’s proximity to it is sure to be a selling point.