Locked and Loaded

By | March 16th, 2017
Country Club of Naples (Fla.)

Country Club of Naples (Fla.)

Men’s and women’s locker rooms are solidifying their status as an essential component of a club’s overall design.

As places for members to stash their gear and take quick showers, locker rooms are generally perceived as a club “given.” Still, they can be easily overlooked during renovation projects. But as more clubs begin to invest in comprehensive fitness centers and wellness programs, these facilities are finally getting proper attention, as an essential component of club culture.

As club managers meet with member committees to discuss major renovation plans, they must consider how their locker rooms can enhance the overall member experience. From concept to completion, a well-thought-out locker-room design can translate into satisfied members and help solidify a club’s reputation as an industry leader.

SUMMING IT UP
• Member input on renovation plans for locker rooms can produce valuable contributions and ultimately help facilitate a design’s execution.
• Reallocating space within locker rooms and adjoining spots for socializing can help a club better suit the membership’s needs.
• Incorporating design trends and industry standards, along with member feedback, creates a comprehensive strategy for architects and project managers.

In the Cards
At Hermitage Country Club in Manakin-Sabot, Va., focusing on improvements to the women’s locker room and card room has been a work in progress over the past several years. But it was during a recent full-scale renovation project that the club took a more dedicated approach to a redesign that reallocated the existing space.

“We found growing interest over the past few years among women card players,” explains Chief Operating Officer Dennis Panagopoulos. “But without the facilities to accommodate this growing demand, we were somewhat landlocked in the previous footprint.”

By choosing to double the size of the women’s card room (from 529 to 1,004 sq. ft.) while reducing the size of the locker room (from 1,060 to 585 sq. ft.), Hermitage is now able to provide its female members with ample room to play a hand or two. The refurbished space opened its doors last April, and is the first completed phase of a renovation that will run through this spring.

To execute the plan for the new card room, Hermitage’s staff and membership worked directly with an interior design firm that was encouraged, by the women’s committee, to move away from a traditional design and instead cultivate a spa-like feeling for the space that would appeal to all generations.

Hermitage Country Club, Manakin-Sabot, Va.

Hermitage Country Club, Manakin-Sabot, Va.

The first decision was to reduce the number of women’s lockers from 65 full-length lockers to 20 full-length and 40 half-size lockers that would occupy one-third less space than in the previous layout. Outdated, plastic-laminate lockers were swapped out in favor of raised-wood-panel lockers in a walnut finish. Custom vanities with gold-flecked quartz countertops, mirrors and wall sconces now divide the locker-room area into specific zones (including a spot reserved for bridal-party prep). The semi-private changing area contains an upholstered bench, in a pattern the designer describes as “reminiscent of rippling water.” Neutral carpeting, in a non-directional pattern of spa blue and warm gold, complements this look.

The spa concept is also carried through to the women’s shower and restroom area, where iridescent tiles with a sea glass tile band, pale blue wall coverings and custom casework in soft taupe set a soothing tone. Metal shower stalls were replaced by floor-to-ceiling partitions and new wood louver doors, to create private compartments.

Finally, Hermitage’s new women’s card room boasts new wooden card tables with removable covers, comfortable chairs, a wall-mounted television and a plush sofa.

Locking Down Trends

When assessing how to make the best use of your club’s locker-room space, it helps to know what innovations are shaping the market. According to an industry expert, here’s an overview of the top trends in locker-room design:

  • Brass is back. Locker rooms are experiencing a resurgence of brass, both polished and brushed.
  • Why not walnut? Walnut is emerging as a preferred wood, primarily in a clear finish with a slight toning.
  • Room to breathe. More decorative grills are being incorporated into locker doors, for added ventilation.
  • “Modern clean” wins out. Lockers with modern lines are more popular than traditional, raised-panel locker doors.
  • Keyless is key. Keyless security for mechanical or digital locks has become more prevalent at most high-end clubs.
  • LEED-certified finishes. Zero VOCs (volatile organic compounds) are moving forward, without any chemicals that can come off the locker.
  • Antimicrobial protection. This new finishing technology is making a noticeable impact, with fewer staph infections, strep or bacteria being reported.
  • Fine veneers. Solid doors are out, and premium veneers are a top choice for locker doors.
  • A place for everything. Interior locker spaces are now engineered to accommodate coats, multiple shoes, gloves, hats and USB phone charging.

Such aesthetic beauty is especially pleasing to Hermitage’s female members; Panagopoulos says they are thrilled with the area.

And beyond how the facility is being used for card playing, meetings and parties, it has also enhanced the non-member experience. “Guests are impressed that we have given our women something more special than [what] the men have, and weddings love the set-up for pre-wedding preparations,” he notes.

A Desert Oasis
At Tamarisk Country Club in Rancho Mirage, Calif., a recent clubhouse renovation included updated men’s and women’s locker rooms, along with adjacent lounges and card rooms. With the last redesign dating back to the mid-1990s, members and staff agreed it was time for a refresh.

“Needless to say, we were in need of some sprucing up,” says Lila Langsford, Marketing and Membership Director.

To determine how their needs would be translated into the redesign, members were assigned to form a renovation committee that would serve as what Langsford calls “a voice for the membership.” Two town-hall meetings and a number of smaller Q&A discussions took place over two years, leaving no design stone unturned.

“We looked at industry standards and trends, along with feedback from our membership, to determine our renovation needs,” Langsford explains.

After breaking ground last May, Tamarisk’s clubhouse was gutted and renovated from top to bottom. The project commenced in December, and a New Year’s Eve gala showcased the finished project to members and guests. And on January 1, 2017, the locker rooms were ready and waiting to be used.

While the existing footprint remained intact, the locker rooms and adjoining spaces were given a complete refresh, including all-new drywall, paint, wall coverings, sinks, toilets and flooring. A contemporary design in a neutral color palette that evokes the club’s desert setting is displayed throughout these spaces. Locker-room doors fashioned from dark wood are balanced out by light-wood ceiling beams overhead.

Tamarisk Country Club, Rancho Mirage, Calif.

Tamarisk Country Club, Rancho Mirage, Calif.

Adjacent to the men’s and women’s locker rooms are separate card rooms, with the men’s version outfitted in stacked stone. Special attention was also paid to the men’s restroom, which now boasts four showers (the women’s locker room has one). To create space needed for this change, the men’s and women’s individual shoe rooms were replaced with one central, shared shoe room.

Both genders have the opportunity to relax post-shower in their respective lounge and television room, where “members watch the news, read the paper and discuss politics and world affairs,” Langsford says.

Member response to these updates has been favorable, which has translated to better business at Tamarisk.

“The members love to bring their friends, show them the renovation and show off their new clubhouse,” enthuses Langsford. “The overall morale of the membership has improved, and the members are happier and are referring people to visit and join our club.”

A Home Away from Home
For the Country Club of Naples (Fla.), a locker represents more than just a token fixture, but rather a personal statement. “It’s the one [thing] that members get their name on,” says General Manager Tim Lynch. “When people walk into the clubhouse, they see their locker room right away; it’s their home away from home.”

Country Club of Naples (Fla.)

Country Club of Naples (Fla.)

Lynch drew on this mindset when the club considered undergoing a clubhouse redesign—something that had not been previously well-received by the membership. “They had tried a renovation that failed prior to me joining,” he explains. “It can be a hard sell because members can feel like it’s being forced down their throat. I told them it has to come from the members themselves.”

With a different approach this time around, the club underwent a two-year process that began with sending out a member satisfaction survey and gathering feedback. Lynch then set up what he dubbed an “ ‘exploratory’—not a renovation” committee, comprised of 30 people from all walks of the club. The team consulted with an architect who developed and explained a concept based on member needs.

When the project’s $7.6 million price tag hit the table, more meetings were held to reassess the required construction and change the scope of the job. At long last, the members agreed to a $165 monthly assessment, and the project kicked off.

Because nearly 80% of the club’s membership leaves during the off-season, construction was slated to begin at the end of last April. “The day after our 50th anniversary party, we shut down the building and got started,” recalls Lynch. “We were back open in time for Thanksgiving.”

Hermitage Country Club, Manakin-Sabot, Va.

Hermitage Country Club, Manakin-Sabot, Va.

As part of the clubhouse renovation, both the men’s and women’s locker rooms were completely updated with reverse color schemes and styles. In the men’s room, lockers went from blond to a darker hard wood, reconfigured from a rows-based design to a perimeter layout. Ceiling heights were extended, giving the illusion of a bigger room, while the addition of ceiling fans created a style Lynch characterizes as “Old Florida.” Grayish tones and gray browns on the walls are a natural fit with dark carpeting.

In sharp contrast, the women’s lockers went from dark to stark white, evoking a clean, coastal-home style. White lockers, chair rails and molding receive a punch of color from turquoise walls for a “beachy” feel. A small card room that was previously exposed is now framed for privacy purposes. Female members can also socialize in the library and sitting area, which boasts a television that has a mirrored frame for hair and makeup touch-ups—so even “when it’s not in use, the TV can still be functional,” notes Lynch.

While the locker rooms only represent one component of the club’s massive clubhouse renovation, Lynch believes the overall redesign has proved its value. “For the amount of money we spent, we got a lot of bang for the buck,” he says.

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