By Joe Capozzi
The La Coquille Club, the exclusive Eau Palm Beach Resort and Spa club that allows free access to Manalapan residents, won Town Commission approval in October for two changes to its membership rules.
The club will raise the limit on its number of non-Manalapan resident members to 75 from 66. The club also is raising its monthly dues for people who rent property in town to $600 from $250.
The changes come as Eau Palm Beach Resort and Spa prepares to unveil $23 million in upgrades to the resort later this year.
“The attraction of La Coquille Club and Eau has grown in significance because of full-time residency people joining our community,’’ Jeff Alderton, an LCC board member, said in a presentation at the Oct. 12 Town Commission meeting.
“So for the first time in many, many years, we have a waiting list. We’ve never had a waiting list before at La Coquille.’’
Alderton said the limit increase to 75 non-Manalapan members is a one-time move. He said the monthly dues for renters have been $250 for the past 32 years.
“Lessee members currently pay notably less than non-Manalapan members for the same service with no financial investment,’’ he said, pointing out that non-Manalapan members pay a $50,000 initiation fee and $3,000 a year in dues. Commissioners embraced the changes.
“It seems to me that that puts us into a position of having a better, more attractive venue,’’ Mayor Keith Waters said.
The original club was a premier destination for celebrities, diplomats, and captains of industry — from Ginger Rogers and the Windsors to the Fords and the Vanderbilts.
When approving the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in 1988, the Manalapan Town Commission incorporated La Coquille Club, a modern version of the prestigious original club founded in the 1950s on the grounds of the hotel site.
The new club, now part of Eau Palm Beach Resort and Spa, provides “a unique opportunity for the Manalapan community to enjoy the privileges of a private club amidst the style and grace of the hotel,’’ the town’s website says.
Town property owners are a priority for the club and, upon application and approval by the board of directors, are made members without having to pay initiation fees or annual dues.
They are permitted access to most amenities on either a gratis basis or a fee basis on par with the Eau Palm Beach Resort and Spa guest. Examples include a private club room and terrace, specialty dining, fitness facilities, pool and whirlpool, beach and tennis.