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With the unofficial start of summer behind us and plenty of warm, sunny days just around the corner, many clubs across the country are gearing up for families to spend much of their time at one area of the club in particular—the pool!
Today, pool facilities play an important role in enhancing membership value and are one of the top reasons families decide to join a private club. While there are many (often costly) ways clubs can improve the pool area, there are also several opportunities to implement cost-effective elements that can drastically improve the overall poolside experience without breaking the bank. Let’s dive right in!
Simply put—the pool area should be fun for the whole family. In the past, private club pool facilities offered a rectangular body of water with an adjacent baby pool accompanied by a few chaise lounges on the pool deck. As members continue to vacation at luxury hotels and fun places like Disney World, they’ve come to desire a similar, resort-style experience from their private club pool. Perhaps one of the simplest enhancements (with the greatest ROI) is the splash pad.
By definition, a splash pad is an outdoor play area with sprinklers, fountains, nozzles, water buckets, and other elements that spray water. This amenity replaces the old (often unpleasant…) baby pool concept with an interactive aquatic play area that is fun for children of all ages. Parents also benefit by the enjoyment they get from watching their children socialize and learn with their friends. Splash pads provide an exceptional value, and because of the relatively low costs required to implement them, the ROI is a no-brainer!
Like splash pads, there are a variety of other budget-friendly features that can help create the resort-like atmosphere members desire. In fact, the surrounding pool deck—not the pool itself—is often what makes or breaks the overall pool experience. Members rarely complain about the amount of water in the pool—but we frequently hear there isn’t enough space around it!
Shade structures are one highly desired feature that provides much needed relief from the harsh summer sun. Clubs can further enhance the pool deck by providing an abundance of chaise lounges, multi-purpose seating areas (perhaps with a fire pit), and umbrella-covered tables for casual outside dining. Poolside beverage services are also on the rise. Having staff walk around the pool deck frequently to take drink orders will give members the resort-style feel they crave. Some clubs have even implemented their own app that provides members the convenience of ordering drinks right from their tablet or smartphone. A few taps on your device and a drink runner arrives at your chaise lounge a few minutes later, drink in hand—how fun!
While we’re on the topic of food and beverage, let’s delve into ways to enhance casual poolside dining. Today, members are looking for more than the traditional Snack Bar staples like chicken fingers, burgers, and ice cream. As awareness surrounding health and wellness continues to rise across all generations, members now desire a variety of quick, healthy options such as salads, smoothies, granola bars and fruit cups, to name a few. If the facilities allow, buffet-style salad bars are also a big hit.
Giving members more options by the pool will also alleviate the need for them to order carry out from the clubhouse or ask the wait staff to deliver meals to them at the pool. This reduces operational strains and improves members’ ease of access to desirable meals—thus improving their overall experience. And expanding the Snack Bar doesn’t—and shouldn’t—take away from the clubhouse dining experience. By carefully selecting menu options and appropriately scheduling hours of operation, clubs can ensure the Snack Bar perfectly complements the club’s overall F&B operations.
The summer months are also an excellent time to involve your entire membership by weaving poolside programs into the club’s event schedule. There are many ways to incorporate youth activities throughout the club and the pool experience is no exception. Host a “Dive-In Movie Night” where members can watch an outdoor movie while sitting atop their pool float in the water. Or plan themed events like a luau, white party, or beach bash where your Chef can get creative with the menu and food presentation.
Sometimes it’s as easy as having live music on the weekends or hosting an adult-only pool party to give the parents a fun night out. Some clubs have even implemented Water Ballets that are performed by the kids! Have fun and don’t be afraid to get creative—the options are endless! And of course, a great idea is nothing without proper execution, so be sure to follow the right steps to communicate these events you’re your membership.
Creating an Adult Cabana Bar is another avenue worth pursuing. While these structures can be elaborate like those found in luxury resorts, they can also be introduced on a smaller scale. Consider expanding one end of the Snack Bar to include a window with a few seats; or build a small “Tiki Hut” that boasts TVs with snacks and frozen drinks, ultimately creating the perfect spot to meet friends to watch local sporting events. Members will appreciate additional opportunities to congregate—a little effort goes a long way!
With these elements in mind, clubs can provide their membership with a dynamic poolside experience that is thoughtful, engaging, cost-effective, and most importantly—fun…for everyone! It is perfectly attainable to provide your membership with a “resort-like” pool facility that still speaks to its home away from home appeal. By implementing some of these elements, you can be sure your members—and your bottom line—will be smiling all summer long.
How have you enhanced your poolside experience? We’d love to learn more!