Just for Laughs

Sandringham Yacht Club issued an April Fool’s prank via email that announced their plans to develop a 5-star hotel, resort, wellbeing centre and wind farm overlooking Port Phillip, and quoting the Commodore, CEO and President of Australian Sailing—the only three people in on the joke. It generated:

  • $20 million in Expressions of Interest in the new apartments.
  • 150 emails from members in response—99% were humoured, a couple disgusted, one wanting to take legal action and only one querying our lack of governance despite spending A$85 million.
  • Facebook responses of over 250 reactions and 110 comments
  • On April 2, staff were insisting a retraction be sent, as elderly members were at the front reception enquiring about our apartments.
  • As part of the member feedback, a member sent thru an AI design of an improved hotel, which was issued as part of our retraction notice.
  • Once the retraction was sent, calm was restored and those who complained sent notes acknowledging they’d been fooled. Everyone saw the funny side in the end.

SYC to build 5-star hotel, resort, wellbeing centre and wind farm overlooking Port Phillip

In a major tourism coup for Victoria and Bayside tourism, SYC has signed an MOU with the 5 star Mayjing Hotel Group (MHG). The MOU will see the reputable MHG build a $85m resort style hotel and wellbeing centre on the site of the existing clubhouse overlooking Port Phillip Bay. It will feature 80 hotel style apartments spread over 8 levels with one entire floor dedicated to a wellbeing centre. In a stunning outcome for SYC, its Members and local tourism, the resort hotel and wellbeing centre is on track to start construction in late 2025.

Commodore Sue Bowes commented “As part of our international yachting network we were introduced to the MHG in 2021 and we have been confidentially working on this with MHG our joint venture partners. After 3 years of due diligence, planning and financial modelling, we are just about set to go. As the MHG group are providing 100% of the upfront funding, as well as the design and construct expertise, in the end we didn’t need member approval to proceed. It was a clear mandate in our last 3 member surveys that we embrace accommodation, enhanced boat storage, a new OTB centre, improved hardstand capability and a wellbeing centre. This project offers all of these things plus a whole lot more. It’s been an exhaustive process, especially under the confidentiality clauses imposed by MHG. We are super excited to announce this project today together with the MHG President, Mr. Ri Sara”.

MHG President Ri Sara said “we have been seeking a stunning harbour outlook and location for several years now in Australia and we have found it at SYC. Just 15km from Melbourne, it offers a prime position overlooking Port Phillip. Add to that the spectacle of sailing fleets outside our front door it’s an opportunity we couldn’t pass up. SYC members will enjoy summer sea breezes on their private balconies, roof top bar and we can also open up the floor to ceiling doors in the wellbeing centre situated on the entire 4th floor. We have several similar projects at leading resorts throughout Asia but this is our first yacht club venture. It will be a stunning development for the Bayside and SYC community”.

In an exclusive stage 1 offering, 40 of the 80 rooms will be offered for sale on 25 year licences to Members who from late 2027 can live onsite in private apartments at SYC. Those licensed apartments, ranging from 1 to 3 bedroom suites, will start from $1.2m and range up to $2.75m. The freehold will be retained by the Club but the licences may be on-sold for the remainder of the licenced term at market value and a 7.5% transfer fee. The pre-requisite however will be you need to be a full member and boat owner (or previous boat owner) at the Club. The other 40 rooms will act like any normal hotel rooms and these will be managed by MHG. It will be a boost for regattas, training groups and it will ensure SYC attracts World Class events to the shores of Sandringham well into the future.

The addition of an environmentally friendly wind farm situated on the breakwater is also a feature of the master plan. Five wind turbines, standing 100 feet tall, will be integrated into the breakwater. They will harness the wind from Port Phillip and generate electricity, which will then be fed into the grid for consumption. The wind turbine propellers will catch the wind’s currents and in turn, power the clubs needs for generations to come.

CEO Richard Hewett said it will mean we can now offer more member services. “24 hour room and boat service, a roof top bar, and the most amazing views of the water anywhere in Victoria. The wellbeing centre on the entire 4th floor will offer a fully equipped gym, pilates, yoga and wellbeing space. If members or staff are stressed, they can head to the stress free ‘break out room’ complete with oxygen capsules. And in response to members feedback to become more family friendly, we are also integrating a 50 metre waterslide in the newly opened up Harbour. We are in discussions with the authorities about placing this on the new Hampton Pier and making it a community use asset. As part of the development, ferries transporting the public will drop off at the new Hampton pier due for completion in late 2025. We are also building 2 pickle ball courts in the car park that can be used at non-peak times”.

A condition of the works was enhanced boat storage. $4.2m will be spent on the construction of an elevated concrete hardstand above the rusty submarine in the marina. Two 7 tonne cranes will lift keelboats in and out of the water enabling them to be dry sailed. Water depth for larger keelboats is required so we are taking the hardstand to a more appropriate space. The existing hardstand will cater for more OTB storage and a dry stack to house 100 stand up paddle boards and 50 kayaks. The OTB centre will also be fully redeveloped and feature enhanced boat storage, a modern clubhouse and a state of the art training facility.

President of Australian Sailing Alistair Murray AM, also an SYC member said “It’s a model for the future of all Australian yacht clubs; something for all clubs to aspire to. I congratulate Sue Bowes and Richard Hewett for pulling off this absolute coup!”

An information session for SYC members will be scheduled in May 2024. We are requesting that you express interest in attending and you can rsvp by emailing membership@syc.com.au / initial expressions of interest are also being taken for the apartments and this can be done directly with the CEO Richard Hewett ceo@syc.com.au

It’s great to belong!