Wednesday, May 17, 2006


Exclusive Country Club With Timeshares Now Open To All

A restaurant in the shadow of Cromer's landmark lighthouse has opened its doors to the public, as an exclusive country club lifts its barriers to locals.

The town's Country Club is part of the worldwide empire of timeshare company Sunterra, which has almost 100 resorts around the globe, including nine in the UK.

While many of the facilities on its wooded hillside campus are exclusive to owners of the 105 apartments, the restaurant, bar and meeting and conference facilities have now been opened to the public.

Timeshare resort manager Margaret McNicol said it was possible due to a removal of licence restrictions, which previously meant non-members could not use the complex.

The club was built in 1979 and was run by Hoseasons until it switched to timeshares in 1995, at first under private ownership and then Thurnham Vacations, before being taken into the global Sunterra empire in 2004.

Sunterra, founded in the 1990s, has offices in Las Vegas and Lancaster, with timeshare resorts as far flung as Hawaii, Florida, the Canary Islands, Mexico, the Caribbean, France, Malta and the Austrian Alps.

Mrs McNicol said they were pleased to welcome locals to the site, with its eating and meeting facilities, complete with panoramic views.

The man in charge of the Cromer restaurant is 27-year-old Mark Shortt, who had an earlier two-year spell there under different ownership, having cut his catering teeth at the Assembly House, Norwich, and Cromer's Cliftonville Hotel.

Most recently he was general manager at Lenwade Country House Hotel, before he was head-hunted back to Cromer by Sunterra.

Mr Shortt, who has a 20-strong team of full and part-time catering staff, led by head chef Andrew Carr, said local people were already enjoying dining at the club,

A timber-beamed bar area, with comfortable chairs, provides bar meals for up to 90 people from 11am to 9.30pm, with the bar staying open until 11pm.

The lighter, adjoining Windjammer restaurant area serves a table d'hote menu on Saturdays, Sunday lunches and themed nights during the week, which range from steak and seafood evenings to Italian nights and a Wednesday focus on Norfolk produce.

The complex with timeshare real estate also has function rooms, for small and large gatherings, which can be used by local organisations, and a games room which is due to be converted into conference facilities.

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