A new 30-unit resort geared toward sports enthusiasts is getting ready to open in Murrells Inlet.
The Inlet Sports Lodge, which is at the corner of U.S.17 Business and Wachesaw Road, will be a fractional ownership resort of studios or two-bedroom luxury suites. Sales started this week, and construction should be complete by the end of the month.
There are several features geared toward outdoor enthusiasts, said Terri Scarborough, the marketing director. A fish-cleaning station is available for people to clean their own fish or have a staff member clean their fish for them. If visitors want to eat their fish for dinner, they can store it in the refrigerator and either cook it themselves or take it over to the restaurant and have the chef cook it.
There is a courtyard with grills and a fire pit, a widow's walk with views of the inlet, and every unit has a storage space on the first floor where residents can keep golf clubs, fishing rods or beach chairs. The resort will have a pool with a Tiki bar and a restaurant. There is an owners club room, edible herb gardens and an onsite concierge that can book fishing trips, rounds of golf or hunting trips.
"The inlet as we all know is catered to sports," Scarborough said. "The Inlet Sports Lodge was inspired by the Inlet and the need for luxury in this area."
The lodge will be sold as fractional ownership with each buyer purchasing a unit for three weeks a year - one fixed week and two additional weeks that can be used flexibly or put into a rental pool. Prices will start at $24,900 and will increase as the units sell, she said.
The first 50 buyers will have a special set of added benefits including a two-year membership to a boat charter service and a five-year membership to True Blue Plantation and Caledonia golf courses.
Brad Dean, the president and CEO of the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce, said that he doesn't know all of the details about this specific development but said that fractional ownership picked up along with the real estate market and similarly saw a decline when the real estate market collapsed.
"The concept is still very appealing to travelers that are looking to invest in a long-term resort option," he said.
Still, with more than 100,000 rooms available to rent along the Grand Strand, there is a lot of competition, Dean said.
Niche resorts can be successful but must distinguish themselves from all the other hotel or vacation rentals already available on the Grand Strand, he said.
"To succeed, any niche development has to do more than just offer a unique alternative but distinguish on price, service, marketing or a combination," Dean said.
Eco-tourism is a growing segment of the local tourism industry, he said, and Murrells Inlet is a natural spot that looks to target those activities.