Sea Pines Splendor


By Vickie McIntyre

When The Sea Pines Resort broke ground for the redevelopment of the Quarterdeck restaurant last spring, Cliff McMackin, Director of Resort Development, declared it was destined to be the new “hot spot” on the island.

Now he’s upped the ante.

“It’s going to be the hot spot of the state,” he boasts, explaining that the space is so special and unique that there’s little to compare it to.

Working with the internationally recognized design firm Hart Howerton, the team from The Sea Pines Resort redesigned the waterfront restaurant in such a way as to capture the ambiance of a ship while also capitalizing on the views.

For starters, the building was raised two feet, enlarged to hold twice as many people and repositioned so three sides of glass windows and slider doors perfectly frame each distinct view ­— from the yacht basin to the 18th green of Harbour Town Golf Links to the Calibogue Sound.

The salty air and call of the gulls come at no extra charge.

The main entrance, tucked behind the iconic lighthouse, resembles a gangplank, while white shiplap inside the waiting area and handrails wrapped in rope reaffirm the nautical theme.

McMackin, who came to Hilton Head in 2013 and oversaw the renovations at the Plantation Golf Club, Sea Pines Beach Club, and Harbour Town Clubhouse, says enthusiasm for this project was “a slam dunk because we wanted to use it as a catalyst for redevelopment throughout Harbour Town.”

Although the Quarterdeck is a nod to the past, he adds, the tasteful modern do-over will solidify The Sea Pines Resort’s place in the luxury hospitality market.

“We put a lot of time into little details,” he explains.

Outside, the double-lapped siding and wooden brackets add texture, while the roof is a Brazilian hardwood that will weather into shades of silver. Look closely at the stucco and you’ll notice the oyster shells face outward, thereby exposing their colorful purple medallions.

A wooden boardwalk now meanders from the harbour walk to the pier with connections to the new market, restaurant, and Umbrella Bar, where walk-up customers can purchase frozen drinks and refreshing cocktails.

Inside, blue-and-white Spanish tiles lead to the Captain’s Bar and dining room, where wood and brass accents create a French bistro look. The energetic atmosphere boasts a state-of-the-art sound system, several televisions and moveable wall partitions allowing access to the deck.

Upstairs, the ambiance is more subdued. Oysters reign supreme at the Rooftop Bar with a shucking station positioned by the massive zinc circular bar. The wood floor is as much a piece of artwork as is the model boats, salvaged from the original Quarterdeck, hanging from the ceiling around the corner. Head to the deck for sunsets or stargazing.

“I think you could sit up there for 30 to 40 minutes and just be entertained solely by the views,” says McMackin, adding how one day a manatee put on a show as he was giving a tour. “And every afternoon there’s this gentle sea breeze that blows through that people are going to notice and remember.”

There’s also flexible event space that can accommodate 80 people with an option to rent a private dining room at the back of the building which seats 12 to 18 people.

“We booked five events for the RBC Heritage and already have another 11 for the rest of the year,” says Brian Couey, general manager of the Quarterdeck.

He also boasts about the kitchen’s two Josper ovens imported from Spain, describing them as “2,000-pound giant Green Eggs, fired by hardwood charcoal.”

Short on time? Visit the first-floor market where grab-'n-go items like chips and beer as well freshly made po’boy sandwiches and hand-dipped Haagen Dazs ice cream are available.

Considering every facet of this rebuild came together during a year plagued by supply-chain issues, the finished product seems even more remarkable.

“The project team tackled whatever was in front of them,” praises McMackin, “whether it was re-selections or just finding creative engineering solutions.”

He’s also proud of the fact that The Sea Pines Resort built a 96-bed apartment complex for their workers, making hiring 140 additional staff less daunting.

As for future development, McMackin says just a general “refresh” is currently on the agenda, allowing for a reprieve from the intensity of the past year.

No doubt McMackin and his crew are probably headed to the Rooftop Bar, ready to enjoy those breezes.