Taking Aim at the Great Outdoors

A new sporting club, born from a once-exclusive private estate, is changing the perception of what a leisure trip to southern New England can offer.

If you didn’t know to look for the entrance to The Preserve Sporting Club & Residences in southwestern Rhode Island you likely would miss it—and that’s not by accident. Located less than a mile (as the crow flies) from exit 3A off Interstate 95, The Preserve was once exclusively private—a members-only shooting club with a world-class sporting clays facility. Tucked away on a 3,500-acre parcel of land, the property is now an outdoor enthusiast’s utopia thanks to recent resort-like developments, the addition of several diverse real estate offerings, and new governance by Ocean House Management (OHM), a hospitality company that oversees a small collection of luxurious and historic hotels, resorts, and inns throughout southern New England.

Double-barrel booth seating in the dining room.

According to Daniel Hostettler, OHM president and group managing director, these recent developments position The Preserve to be a unique northeast destination. They will, as Hostettler says, “make it the first of its kind, a sporting club where you can be a member or you can rent one of the homes and be a member for a couple of days.”

Because of the club’s past as an exclusive estate conceived and tailored to serve only a few dozen members, The Preserve is concealed from public view. Even the club’s French Normandy–style stone guardhouse is positioned just far enough away from the road leading east to Newport that if you weren’t looking for it you likely wouldn’t see it.

Once members and guests pass that guardhouse and drive up the quarter-mile-long entranceway, however, The Preserve slowly reveals itself. A 25,000-square-foot clubhouse and lodge, flanked by a 50,000-square-foot indoor shooting range and retail shop, greets visitors upon arrival. On the hillside adjacent to the lodge, three- and four-bedroom townhomes showcase one of the many styles of accommodation available to guests as rentals (or to members as purchasable residences). On that topic, other residential offerings include Hilltop Lodge condominiums, cozy designer cabins, and single-family homes that range in size from 1,800 to more than 4,000 square feet.

Each home features a first-floor master suite.

While the club’s accommodations are luxurious and stunning, The Preserve’s most compelling draw is the diverse amenities that allow members and guests to interact with the natural world surrounding the cabins, townhomes, and signature residences. Given the club’s genesis, it’s not surprising that The Preserve’s expansive shooting facilities are at the core of those amenities. A sprawling, 19-station sporting clays course is defined by more than 150 elevation changes. Elsewhere, an extraordinary 10-station five stand impresses with its rustic hunting-lodge design, full kitchen, indoor entertaining area, and outdoor fireplace. In fact, each shooting location within that five stand—as well as each station on the sporting clays course—is equipped with heaters, which make shooting sessions a possibility all year long.

Just how impressive are The Preserve’s shooting facilities? Consider that when OHM was conducting its due diligence prior to signing an agreement to manage the property, the company brought in a few experienced shooters, who doubled as prospective investors, to evaluate the club. One of those investors dutifully visited the property, expecting to spend no more than an hour there. “He came back six hours later,” Hostettler recalls, “and he said, ‘I bought a membership for $300,000, and we need to run this place because it’s the coolest place on earth.’”

The living space in one of the Townhouses on Green properties.

Aside from shooting sports (which also includes driven bird hunts throughout the year), The Preserve offers more than 50 miles of hiking and cross-country skiing trails, snowmobiling, and ice fishing. During warmer months of the year, members and guests can enjoy an 18-hole, par-3 golf course, fly fishing, zip lining, and ATV riding, among many other activities.

Best of all, thanks to the partnership with OHM, guests who stay at The Preserve can take advantage of a reciprocity program between the club and the nearby Ocean House resort that overlooks the Atlantic shoreline in Westerley, R.I. Guests who stay at the Ocean House also have the ability to make day trips to The Preserve. “If you’re staying at the beach and come here, this is like being in the mountains somewhere,” Hostettler says.

In fact, Hostettler is confident that The Preserve, with its ability to provide “out of the ordinary experiences,” will stand out and impress guests for that very reason. “It’s lots of outdoor activities that you might have always wanted to try,” he says of the club’s offerings. “That’s going to be the experience. You’re going to try something for the first time when you’re here.”

From $675

Getting there: The Preserve is a two-and-a-half hour drive or three-hour train ride from New York City; however, the property’s helipad allows visitors and members to make that journey via helicopter in just over an hour.