Many private clubs now tout how a driving goal behind a recent renovation was to create a more “resort-like” feel; at the same time, traditional resorts are creating club components for those who want to access and use their facilities and amenities on a more frequent basis.
The “r” and “c” words keep popping up in surprising places these days. Many private clubs now tout how a driving goal behind a recent renovation was to create a more “resort-like” feel for their properties; at the same time, traditional and long-established resorts, like The Shawnee Inn and Golf Resort that is featured as this month’s cover story (“Rolling on the River,”), are announcing new membership programs to create club components for those who want to access and use their facilities and amenities on a more frequent basis.
There’s nothing at all wrong with this, and in fact it just serves as more proof of how the definitions, and distinctions, of what constitutes a “club” or a “resort” continue to blur. (As well as more affirmation, if I can take a moment for a pat on the back, of why we were onto something 12 years ago when we decided to create a publication that would be designed to serve both segments. That earned us a few strange looks initially, but we’ve since been gratified to hear from many readers from both types of properties that they’ve gained real value in learning how the “other side” does things.)
As all properties in the industry continue to seek to adapt their amenity mix and facilities to Americans’ changing lifestyles and leisure/recreation preferences, it makes sense to see even some of the most exclusive private clubs spend significant capital to build and expand pool complexes and add other recreational options and amenities to their properties that can create more “resort-like” appeal and help to attract a wider range of future members. Many other private clubs have taken steps to make their golf courses, restaurants, catering facilities and other parts of their property and offerings much more accessible to part-time or non-full members, as well as the general public.
At the same time, even the most traditional resort properties have seen the need to reduce their dependence on vacationers, occasional guests and the conference business, which has been greatly diminished in both scale and frequency as a regular corporate activity. Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountain region, where The Shawnee Inn is located, offers perhaps the most striking examples of this need, with several long-established properties that relied almost exclusively on destination and meeting business in their heydays several decades ago now needing to step up their efforts to develop and promote membership components and repeat-visit business as part of their offerings.
Again, this is all for the good—in all cases it leads to better facilities that are operated with more innovative and open-minded approaches and more attentiveness to customers’ needs, be they members or guests. And it helps all properties expand their base, and scope, in productive ways.
Just as clubs and resorts alike seek to have everyone who comes to their property be part of one big happy family, blurring the lines between “r” and “c” can help us all be part of one bigger and happier business.