RICHMOND, R.I. — It’s 3,500 acres. That’s what first caught our eye. The Preserve Sporting Club & Residences stretches over grasslands, sorghum fields, woods, wetlands, and rolling hills.
That’s a lot of space. And if you’re Paul Mihailides, an avid marksman and outdoor enthusiast, with development experience and deep pockets, you know just what to do with it. You turn it into a premier sporting club and private wilderness, with a tier of memberships, residential homes, and overnight accommodations open to the public. You build the longest indoor, underground shooting range in the country (including 3-D archery and a golf simulation room), develop outdoor clay shooting courses, and groomed uplands to host high-end hunts and events. And then you add nearly every imaginable outdoor activity and a slew of luxury amenities to attract families and non-shooting enthusiasts, like us.
We had little interest in shooting instruction, a gun safety course, or trying out the 19-station, 12-station, or the 10-stand clay courses. No matter; as an overnight guest, there were plenty of other activities available a la carte: guided nature hikes ($150, up to six people for two hours), mountain biking ($150 an hour with a guide, rentals also available), kayaking and canoeing on the nearby Wood River Pawcatuck Watershed ($150 an hour with a guide, rentals also available), golfing on the private 18-hole, par 3 course, ziplining ($75 a run), tennis on two clay and two grass courts ($75 per court), star gazing, rock climbing, swimming, sports fields, and more.
We checked into one of the townhomes (think: high-end finishes, full kitchens, gas fireplaces, steam showers), and decided to go fly fishing. There are 10 ponds on the property, the largest being 10 acres. We met Todd, an avid fly fishermen and instructor, who brought rods and flies, and offered tips, as we casted into the tranquil, clear pond. Within an hour, we landed a tiny panfish and a small large-mouth bass and watched as a decent-size trout swam around our flies, never taking the bait. We released them, but Mihailides later said that guests are welcome to have the on-site Double Barrel Kitchen chefs cook your catch.
Bespoke experiences are encouraged. Want to have a picnic BBQ next to one of the Hobbit Houses, a whimsical, built-in-the-earth abode that Bilbo Baggins would love? No problem! Want to go rock climbing with one of the premier climbers in the region? No problem! Want to learn about survival skills from a former Green Beret? No problem!
“I have 26 hidden warriors here,” Mihailides says, “high caliber people, mostly vets, with incredible, unique skill sets, ready to offer instruction.”
Mihailides first built Boulder Hills, a golf course and clubhouse, on the Preserve property back in the 1990s, sold it to Foxwoods Resort Casino, and bought it back again in 2013. Since, he’s put together 19 parcels of surrounding land, that now covers 3,500 acres, much of it under conservation covenants.
There’s more in the works. Another 35 or so new accommodation units are scheduled to open this November, along with a 10,000-square-foot spa, and another new cafe and restaurant. An equestrian center is also planned for the future.
Still missing something, like a beach, or wine tasting, cooking lessons, art tours, yachting, five-star dining? No problem. The Preserve is part of the OHMCollection, and guests are welcome to use facilities and join activities at its sister destination, the Ocean House on the Atlantic shore in nearby Westerly, R.I.
We’d be happy to just hole up in the Hobbit House while the world repairs itself.
87 Kingstown Road, Richmond, R.I., 844-451-5913, www.preservesportingclub.com; overnight accommodations this season start at $900.
Diane Bair and Pamela Wright can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org