Innovation & Recreation
Four Unique Activity Trends Emerging in the IndustryRead More
Private clubs have existed for decades—some, over a century—as a place for people with common interests to gather. While many years ago that common interest was often for gentlemen who wished to conduct business and play golf, the industry has transformed to become much more family-centric. In fact, today’s clubs often have up to five generations of family members that reside at the club at the same time, leading to the need for a variety of different amenities and programs that respond to their unique interests and lifestyles.
In addition to offering exceptional golf, business and socialization experiences, clubs must also offer robust racquet programs, competitive fitness and wellness experiences, interactive youth offerings, and year-round amenities in order to provide the greatest value possible and remain relevant in the ever-changing lifestyles of today’s modern member.
Through the years, clubs have responded to these evolving needs by renovating clubhouses or building additions to their existing clubhouses to meet member demands for additional space. While well-intentioned, this has not always led to building the best experience possible when evaluating clubhouses. So how can clubs create the perfect clubhouse to house all of its offerings? Most likely, they can’t.
Enter—the amenity building. Sometimes referred to as a Family Activity Center, Member Activity Building, or simply Activity Center, this type of facility is typically under a separate roof from the clubhouse (sometimes multiple roofs as part of a robust amenity complex) and caters to the natural synergies of recreational activities. Often much more casual in nature compared to traditional clubhouse dining and event spaces, these buildings focus on the importance of building community, creating a family-friendly atmosphere, enhancing wellbeing, and attracting and retaining members outside of traditional golf-related activities.
Historically, the only separate amenity building that most private clubs offered was a pool building. This amenity often consists of changing rooms, restrooms, and a small snack bar—oftentimes an underwhelming facility that “checks the box” of having these necessary functions to support pool activities but does not necessarily contribute to creating a truly unique or memorable poolside experience. But add in some extra poolside amenities and expand the food and beverage offering to create an ultra-casual dining destination unto itself, and suddenly the pool experience feels resort-like and special, giving families a whole new reason to want to spend time at the club.
Now, imagine members having access to fitness facilities right upstairs from the pool changing rooms, using the same locker facilities to store their belongings while they enjoy a game of tennis, or being able to partake in spa activities down the hall. According to John Snellinger, Director of Planning and Principal at Chambers, “Offering a facility that is centrally located to all recreational activities enables clubs to elevate the value and convenience for their members. This creates a unique destination for health and wellness activities—all without needing to leave the facility or changing out of their sporty, casual attire.”
Such is the case at Wyndemere Country Club, where Chambers helped revitalize the club’s amenity facilities to include the Tiebreaker Dining and Lakeside Wellness buildings. Built adjacent to one another and nestled among the existing tennis courts and pool area, these two buildings create a unique amenity complex that has breathed new life into the recreational activities in this private community. At Wyndemere, members can enter the impressive, state-of-the-art Lakeside Wellness facility after a game of tennis and find much more than a simple Pro Shop or locker room that awaits them. In fact, they’ll find an array of cutting-edge, holistic health and wellness offerings.
Alongside traditional cardiovascular and strength training areas, the Lakeside Wellness building also offers a multi-purpose group exercise room, dedicated Yoga, Pilates, and Spin Studios, pristine treatment rooms, a soothing salt therapy room, a dedicated physical therapy space, and brand-new locker rooms equipped with whirlpools and infrared saunas for ultimate relaxation. For those in search of a serene escape, a multi-purpose quiet room awaits, complete with a private patio overlooking the lake. Down the hall, members can enjoy salon services as part of the holistic spa experience.
These amenity-oriented facilities typically feature their own food and beverage offerings, too. In some cases, an ultra-casual dining room gives members a place to have a leisurely sit-down meal after a game of tennis in their athletic clothes. For fitness and spa users, a grab-n-go station or small café may offer prepared sandwiches and smoothies for a quick meal option to take with them. And for families, ultra-casual dining venues offer fun, convenient meal options like pizza ovens for members to dine with young families after a soccer game or tee ball—without feeling like their active kiddos are interrupting more upscale events that may be happening around them in the clubhouse.
In the case of Wyndemere Country Club, the Tiebreaker facility boasts operable glass walls on three sides of the dining area itself, bridging the gap between the indoor and outdoor spaces and creating a meaningful connection to the adjacent pool complex and scenic golf facilities beyond. The versatile Tiebreaker building also boasts a Grab & Go Lounge (featuring a coffee and smoothie bar), a brand-new Tennis Pro Shop, flexible multi-purpose meeting spaces, and a private dining room with direct access to the kitchen—a perfect spot for hosting intimate member gatherings to celebrate birthdays and anniversaries.
“By offering a variety of casual food and beverage options, a club can respond to the needs of its members for a more relaxed, spontaneous environment free of dining reservations or strict dress codes,” says Snellinger. “There is a time where more formality is appropriate, and a time when members need and want to be more casual. Clubs need to provide members opportunities to do both.”
Members aren’t the only ones who benefit from these curated types of amenity buildings—they help club operations, too. Today, private clubs need to be so many different things for so many different people. As modern lifestyles become increasingly focused on the concept of health and wellness, which encompasses mental wellbeing as much as physical activities, club staff must also shift their knowledge so they can provide appropriate service to the members.
“By housing amenities that support recreational activities in their own dedicated facilities, the staff members that keep those facilities running can also curate their knowledge of services centered around health and wellness,” says Snellinger. “This allows them to become experts in providing exceptional service for recreational and athletic functions, which have different requirements than, say, the catering team that is serving a member event or wedding in the Ballroom at the Main Clubhouse.”
This centralized approach to facilities has a positive impact on operations for these amenities at the club, which in turn positively impacts the member experience. In fact, since opening these award-winning facilities, Wyndemere Country Club has seen significant increases in utilization as well as member satisfaction—a result that is even more important since this private club also happens to be a gated community. In this case, we are not only improving the recreational experience for members but enriching the quality of life for those living in this Florida community.
So How Do You Begin? It all starts with a plan and evaluating what you currently have. Because even if your Club isn’t currently in a position to be able to build standalone structures for these amenity experiences, it’s best to have a long-term plan for the future. And this trend is here to stay!
How have amenity spaces enhanced your overall member experience? Comment below and share!