The Crowd: New owners welcomed in at Balboa Bay Club

The changing of the guard at The Balboa Bay Club and Resort officially took place last week. The new owners of the legendary coastal hotel and club introduced themselves to the community, welcoming some 700 guests to a cocktail reception in the Grand Ballroom.

Producers of the event set up a raised stage and seated the executive team, led by the controlling interest of Richard H. Pickup joined by son Todd Pickup, son-in-law Kevin Martin, business partner Tim Busch and hotel executive Steve Arnold. Following a brief introduction by John Wortmann, chairman of the club's board of governors, the gentlemen fielded questions taken from the audience in advance concerning the future of the institution that will celebrate its 65th anniversary in 2013 as Newport Beach's "Host of the Coast."

The overflow crowd came together much like an enormous family, many of whom represent multiple generations of Newport Beach residents associated with the history of the property. Because the BBC has for decades been the setting of social, charitable, family and civic events, the changing of the guard from the previous 41-year ownership under the leadership of the Ray family to the Pickup family and partners is a serious issue to locals.

Irene and Dr. Bill Mathews, prominent local Newport Beach citizens, said, "The BBC is a part of the fabric of this community and we look forward to a new and exciting era on the coast."

The gentlemen on the dais responded to questions concerning the future of the property, stressing their intent to preserve its grand history, while making improvements and adapting to a changing 21st century model.

Carrie Young of Dover Shores, wife of Rob Young and mother of two twin daughters who recently graduated from Newport Harbor High School, shared, "I have been a member of The BBC my entire life and it was an incredible place for me to grow up, and now is a wonderful place for my children Robin and Christina and my younger son Ryan to enjoy family activities on the bay."

Following the question and answer period, the crowd was treated to a cocktail and wine reception with white glove service, tray-passed hors d' oeuvres and sushi bar. Executive Tim Busch, whose family also owns a California winery, Trinitas, generously gifted the entire gathering with a selection of his estate bottled wines.

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Across town at Big Canyon Country Club in Newport Beach, some 100 guests came together for the first Wine and Dine benefit for Laura's House.

The crowd sampled more than 30 wines from different wine-growing regions throughout California — from the Central Coast to the Sonoma Coast, Napa Valley, Carmel Valley, Santa Barbara and beyond. The Friday night party called for "Summer Chic" attire and featured a massive silent auction. The crowd sampled gourmet appetizers and selections from the vast array of wines supervised by Big Canyon County Club's Master Sommelier Steve Poe.

Margaret Bayston, chief executive and executive director of Laura's House, praised the community for its support and Big Canyon for its hospitality.

"This wine event will help us to raise the much needed funds to support programs that service families who are impacted by domestic violence," she said.

Laura's House is a non-profit with the mission to create a safe place in which to assist individuals and families torn apart by abuse, with the goal of stopping domestic violence and hopefully changing the behavior which perpetuates such action.

"This is an issue that affects so many individuals throughout the Orange County community," Bayston added.

Some of the wineries participating in the party included Stag's Leap Wine Cellars, Levendi Winery, Big Basin Vineyards, Dunstan Wines and Loring Wine Co.

Spotted in the crowd were Casey Wolin, Brenda Zalke, Chad and Vanessa Brand, and Karen and Wayne Pinnell. Also supporting Laura's House were Michelle and Richard Forsythe, Bette and Wylie Aitken, Laura Khouri, Christian Morwood, Alexandra Chebil and Matthew West. Net proceeds from the event are expected to top $15,000.

THE CROWD runs Thursdays and Saturdays. B.W. Cook is editor of the Bay Window, the official publication of the Balboa Bay Club in Newport Beach.

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