If producers made a movie of the new and stunning Harbor Lights Resort, it undoubtedly would have won numerous Academy Awards.
Moreover, many people on the long guest list handed down rave reviews Saturday evening during the grand opening of what attendees agreed is “the jewel of Warwick Neck.” Invitations went out to 1,200 people. An estimated 1,400 turned out.
Throwing the party were former Warwick Mayor and Rhode Island Gov. Philip W. Noel and his son Joseph Noel.
But just what is Harbor Lights, which is situated on 72 seaside acres at 150-200 Gray Street in Warwick?
Officially, it’s a campus that features a modern 225-slip full-service marina at the mouth of Warwick Cove; a green and well-manicured Geoffrey Cornish-designed golf course and practice range overlooking Narragansett Bay; a completely redesigned, remodeled and expanded clubhouse featuring a 300-plus-person capacity Grand Ballroom, two restaurants and a pro shop.
Harbor Lights is also home of the picturesque Seaside Terrace where people can hold weddings and tented receptions; and an Infinity Pool Club and Bar with a unique, ever-flowing waterfall that also overlooks Greenwich Bay.
Saturday’s Grand Opening capped a 26-month overhaul of what was formerly known as Seaview Country Club.
That period also featured thousands of feet of board lumber being crafted into a modern and new clubhouse. Contractors also brought in thousands of yards of materials to sculpt and improve terrain and to maximize views.
Details were even extended to trucking in handpicked cypress beams and river barge salvage from Louisiana for re-purposing to create the Pool Club’s open-air, bayside bar and custom furniture for the new restaurants.
The completion of the complex was also the culmination of a longtime vision – 30 years – the elder Noel had.
“We recognized the great potential of this property and Warwick Cove long ago,” said Philip Noel, who raised his family on Warwick Neck. “Despite the private look and feel of Harbor Lights, we’ve approached this project with the people of Warwick in mind. We’re more than your typical country club; we’re open to everyone and very affordable.”
Joseph Noel, president and COO of Harbor Lights, echoed his father’s sentiments.
“What we’ve created here is the country club experience without the country club expense,” he said. “And we’re equally proud of the talent and experience we’ve assembled to assure our guest experience is superior in every way.”
He also expressed an even more far-reaching interest Saturday.
“While new jobs and new attractions are important for the community,” Joseph Noel said, “it’s our hope that a greater economic impact is yet to come via this waterway. We trust that Harbor Lights will inspire our congressional delegation to visualize the full potential for Warwick Cove to attract larger vessels and a larger share of national business for all of the business in this spectacular inlet. Enlisting the help of the Corps of Engineers to improve and protect the Warwick Cove channel will open that door.”
Perhaps Drew Noel, Joseph Noel’s son who came in from his home in Dallas for the celebration, said it best while holding a mini-reunion with his sisters Monique and Sophia Noel.
“This is the first time I’ve seen this place,” he began, “but as soon as I walked into this [Grand Ballroom] area, I could tell it had my mother’s stamp, her footprint all over the place.”
Danita Noel designed the interior of the Harbor Lights clubhouse, banquet facility, restaurants and bars where the theme is “We may appear private but everyone’s welcome!”
Danita Noel is Joseph Noel’s wife who owns and operates Noel Interiors of Lafayette, La.
“The woodwork is stunning,” said a guest in the Back Nine Grille, which overlooks the fifth fairway and ninth hole.
Even the tables inside the Back Nine Grille are “just an example of attention to detail that went into the creation of Harbor Lights,” said Manager Edward H. Berube.
The wood used to make the tables came from a one-time Mississippi Riverboat barge. Once the barge was decommissioned, it was torn apart and the wood was used to build homes in Louisiana. After those homes were torn down to build more modern homes, the lumber, Berube said, was “reclaimed for a second time and made into the farm tables located in our [Back Nine] Grille.”
When asked about the paint scheme inside the Grand Ballroom and other areas of Harbor Lights, Berube said, “coastal elegance.”
It’s an appropriate title for Harbor Lights, which is now open and serving lunch and dinner from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week. When school is officially out for summer recess in two weeks, the hours will expand from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Harbor Lights pro shop is located on the first floor, as is the Front Nine Grille. The Grand Ballroom and Back Nine Grille are located on the second floor and offer views of Narragansett Bay or part of the nine-hole golf course.
For more information about the country club, restaurants or the Seaside Terrace and Infinity Pool Club and Bar, call 737-6353.