Sea Palms undergoing a face-lift

Gordon Jackson, The Brunswick News, Ga.
·3 min read

Mar. 22—Don Wenner was selling alarms door-to-door while he was attending Drexel University when the owner made him an offer that changed his life.

Wenner was so successful selling alarms that his boss offered him a different job selling real estate for another company he owned.

Wenner started DLP Real Estate Capital by the time he was a junior in college, and it has been ranked among the top 15 real estate firms in the nation five years in a row by The Wall Street Journal — generating more than $100 million in revenue in less than 10 years. DLP is an acronym for Dream, Live, Prosper, he said.

Wenner, the CEO of DLP, was in the Golden Isles last week participating in a series of meetings and seminars at Sea Palms with potential high-network investors in DLP properties and real estate operators.

DLP has invested more than $15 million in improvements at Sea Palms, starting with the golf facilities — including a renovated clubhouse, golf course and practice facilities.

Wenner first invested in the Golden Isles when he bought the Seagate Inn in 2017. He said he considered making an offer on the Sea Palms site at the time, but realized he didn't have the expertise to manage a golf resort.

"It wasn't something we're used to," he said.

When he returned in late 2018, Wenner met Will Carter, who took over the management of the facility and found other investors to buy Sea Palms in May 2019.

"It was old and worn out," Carter said. "It had no reinvestment in many years."

Carter said it was easy to convince investors in the property's potential.

"You're never going to find a piece of property like this again," Carter said he told investors.

The role of DLP is that of a lending partner. Wenner said there are many plans for further improvements at Sea Palms.

"Will is a man of ideas. Every one is a good idea," Wenner said.

Carter is the full-time manager, and he stays on site to oversee operations.

"It's a project that costs a lot of money," he said. "It needs an operator on site."

Carter describes the relationship with DLP as an equal partnership.

"They're very good about letting me drive the ship," he said.

Currently, the guest rooms, each with a spectacular view of the surrounding marsh, are undergoing major renovations. Once completed, the rooms will be available to accommodate a growing demand for reservations, after a year of slow business because of the ongoing pandemic.

"We have many groups lined up this summer," Carter said. "We want you to come as a guest and leave as a local. We love golf groups."

The facility has 10,000 square feet of meeting room space that has been renovated, and it has the ability to seat 200 people for dinner.

The non-golfers staying at Sea Palms don't have to worry about being bored. There are plenty of activities and destinations on the island to keep guest occupied when they aren't golfing.

There are also a number of wedding reservations already booked for this year, he said.

Wenner said he never expected to be the founder and CEO of one of the nation's top real estate managers when he first started selling homes. Now, the company is continuing to invest.

"For us, it's very much focused on scale," he said. "We can't keep up with the pace of the growth."