31 Jul

2+12+1: FACs Add Up

Family Activity Centers Make Plain Sense …and Cents

Cape Fear Country Club, Wilmington, NC


For years, General Manager Mary Geiss at Cape Fear Country Club in Wilmington, North Carolina, watched with frustration as dozens and dozens of cars made their way out of her club parking lot after every major tennis and pool event. Ideally, she would’ve loved for them to stay for lunch or dinner, but there simply wasn’t a place for the casually attired families to grab a casual meal.

Like many clubs across the country, Geiss is experiencing an influx of younger families — and with it, the need to address a next generation of members who easily combine family, fitness, food and wellness in their day-to-day lives. Simply put, says Geiss, “We needed to provide them with more and better options.”

Cape Fear recently teamed up with Chambers to design a Family Activities Center (FAC), which is slated to open in 2015. “This is an burgeoning trend for private clubs,” says Chambers President & CEO Rick Snellinger, who has led the planning and member approval process with Cape Fear.

“There are so many reasons to create a dedicated activities center,” Snellinger says. Among them:

Pools are the #2 feature families look for in considering a new club (the golf course still ranks #1).

FACs enable clubs to increase year-round utilization of the club. “You can pretty easily turn your club into a 12-month facility with a well conceived Family Activities Center,” says Snellinger.

One facility dedicated to the FAC makes it easier for families to take advantage of multiple offerings, eases the introduction of casual dining and, says Chambers Executive Vice President Ryan Yakel, “can enable you to only have one department head to oversee all the FAC operations.”

Cape Fear’s new FAC is a 21,000-square-foot, dedicated building that will connect tennis courts and a swimming pool with a state-of-the-art fitness center, junior activity rooms and daycare. A casual restaurant in the building features a moveable walls that can open up to the pool in warmer months. “It’s all about creating a casual center that caters to active lifestyles,” says Yakel, who recently designed a similar removable wall for Hillcrest Country Club in Boise.


(or at least Should-Seriously-Be-Considered!) for a Dedicated Family Activities Center

  1. 1. Assorted racquet sports – tennis, squash, paddle ball
  2. 2. Swimming pools – lap pool and zero entry pools with features for children
  3. 3. Casual dining with bar/bistro/fitness menu
  4. 4. State-of-the-art fitness center with spaces for classes and weight training
  5. 5. Babysitting area
  6. 6. Game room sans technology – a place for foos ball, air hockey, ladder golf, skee ball, table games and more
  7. 7. Retail center/pro shop (specific to pool, racquet sports and fitness)
  8. 8. Technology-enabled room for movie viewing, parties and more
  9. 9. Outdoor space with a playground and courts for tether ball, supervised games, basketball, etc.
  10. 10. Full service locker rooms with steam, sauna, showers and maybe even spa services

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