Patios have earned their place as the new club “hot spot,” offering a prime location for soaking up sun—and heating up business.
More and more club facilities are jumping on the patio bandwagon, constructing and cultivating inviting outdoor atmospheres that serve as destinations for dining and socializing, while also providing transitional space between the clubhouse and outdoor amenities such as golf, tennis and aquatic facilities. With thoughtful designs that enhance a club’s natural setting, these praiseworthy patio areas have become in-demand, go-to locations on their own.
|Summing It Up
• Spacious outdoor areas provide more direct access to club amenities.
• The addition of outdoor heaters and/or fans help extend a patio’s usefulness throughout the year.
• A variety of seating options invites members to dine, socialize and linger longer.
A Club That Feels Like a Club
For members of The Club at Pelican Preserve in Fort Myers, Fla., having more space for outdoor socializing has become an expectation.
“Outdoor space has become so desirable and popular, especially here in South Florida,” says Joe Smith, General Manager of the property’s Pelican Preserve Town Center.
To help with its transition from a semi-private to a private facility, the club recently underwent a $2 million renovation that included enclosing its second-floor, 750-sq. ft. patio and constructing a brand-new, 2,000-sq. ft. patio off the first-floor snack bar.
“Our focus was on an overall enhancement of the member areas and to create more ‘membership value’ by having two distinct dining options at the club,” explains Smith. “We wanted a more modern, upscale and elegant feel that followed our multi-year improvements to all of the amenity facilities at Pelican Preserve.”
To fit with the club’s status as an Audubon International Signature Cooperative Sanctuary, the covered patios were outfitted in natural colors and materials, including greens and browns, along with wood flooring. Furniture is casual, yet functional, while lighting fixtures feature a tree branch-and-reed design.
To facilitate the flow between the dining areas and the golf course, the club’s redesign focused on “bringing the dining atmosphere closer to the game,” as Smith describes it. “We really had no view of the golf course from either the snack [bar] or the dining room previously,” he explains. “Our new patio downstairs now provides direct access to our three practice greens, and you will often find members putting while socializing over a beer.”
In the new lower-level patio, up to 50 members can relax at dining tables in an area that features pass-through windows to the inside bar. Upstairs, the dining room boasts views of the finishing hole on the club’s Ibis course through large arched windows. Sixteen guests can lounge in low-slung, Adirondack-style seating around fire pits and square tables, creating a flexible layout for customizable parties and special events.
“Fire pits, lounge seating and cabana set-ups allow for many variations for passive or active use of the space,” notes Smith.
For special events, the club’s lower-level patio is proving to be a useful venue for cocktail receptions, including a recent Men’s Member-Guest Stag Night. “[The patio] served as a great event space, providing ample seating, putting/chipping contests and cigar rolling,” says Smith. “Being outside, we grilled for the guys. They loved it.”
Overall feedback on the patio improvements has been overwhelmingly positive, with members reporting that “the club now feels like a club,” Smith says. “The support we’re seeing from members shows that they’re happy.”
To expand its presence outdoors, Piper’s Landing Yacht & Country Club in Palm City, Fla., added two 2,500-sq. ft. patios as part of a full clubhouse renovation last December.
|On the Horizon
The views at the Niagara Falls Country Club in Lewiston, N.Y., are something to fall for—and later this spring, members will be able to better appreciate the scenery from a new vantage point. In May, the club will unveil its long-awaited outdoor patio, complete with sweeping views of the Niagara Escarpment.
“The popularity and member demand for the patio really drove the expansion and renovations,” says General Manager/CEO Tom Ahern. Work on the remodeled patio, which includes two fireplace pits and dining areas, began last September.
The 2,400-sq. ft. space will include wrought-iron tables and chairs, with Adirondack chairs scattered around the fire pits; in all, the patio is designed to seat between 125 to 150 guests. Stone tiles provide sturdy flooring, while a variety of landscape, stairway and sidewalk lighting fixtures are peppered throughout. Cool evenings are tempered by radiant heaters, and ceiling fans circulate balmy breezes on hot summer days.
The patio’s location helps with the flow and service to the club’s pool and plays a part in the relocation of the members’ bar and grill room. “We can now capture the award-winning view of Toronto [across Lake Ontario],” notes Ahern, adding that members’ excitement for the patio’s upcoming opening is palpable—just in time for the warmer weather and the busy season.
“The membership wanted to bring the ‘outside in,’ so we added this outdoor area with ten sets of doors to do just that,” explains General Manager and Chief Operating Officer Brian Reich.
The covered and uncovered spots feature their own fire pits and multiple television seats for guests’ viewing pleasure. Situated just outside the club’s dining facility, the patios are accessible through multiple doors, a ramp and stairs from the golf staging area, as well as from stairs off the back of the building that front the 18th green.
Outfitted in a style Reich describes as “transitional,” both patios are awash in tropical-neutral and natural-color palettes, with pops of aquas and tans. Acrylic-based furniture provides seating for a combined total of 100 guests, illuminated by soft lamp lighting and LED high-hats. Several fans keep members comfortable during hot weather, while decorative mobile heaters are on hand for chilly evenings. To keep pesky mosquitoes at bay, an automatic insect-repellent spraying device with 100 nozzles provides intermittent relief.
Taking the often-humid climate into consideration, the club’s patios are equipped with special flooring. “In South Florida, you must be concerned with rain and what it will do to undermine the stability of the flooring,” says Reich. “We had considered decorative pavers over concrete or sand, but ultimately decided to go with all concrete and a decorative faux finish, so there will be no sinkholes and little or no maintenance will be required.”
The property’s food-and-beverage business has increased substantially with the addition. Reich reports a 42-percent boost in covers and a 47-percent uptick in sales—“a resounding success from this general manager’s perspective,” he enthuses.
Private parties are also taking advantage of the new space, with two wedding ceremonies on the books, and pre-function floor plans are already in place. “We love having a place for our raw bar that won’t stain the rug or have an odor once a function is over,” says Reich.
Reich echoes members’ enthusiasm over this outdoor venue, especially the fire pit areas. “It’s a beautiful spot to watch, or heckle, the golfers finishing up in the later afternoon or at dusk,” he quips.
At Grey Oaks Country Club in Naples, Fla., enhancing the club’s brand-new saltwater pool with an outdoor café made perfect sense. According to Director of Membership Sales Kitsi Estrem, the renovation, which was completed in March 2016, was undertaken in response to the latest trend in casual dining.
Described as a “tropical oasis” by the interior designer, the pool café was inspired by the colors of the ocean. The design is anchored by an oval bar that extends from inside to out, while open-air seating includes a variety of high-top bistro chairs, soft lounge seating and booths. The design incorporates indirect lighting to give the space a casual feel during the day and a romantic atmosphere at night.
Native cypress hardwood flooring balances out the bright-textured fabrics and coastal artwork. Similarly, double-sized fireplaces and rainfall water features offer a compare-and-contrast element to the playful design.
At the pool, members can bask in the sun under a pergola draped in fabrics, and the spot has proved appealing to diners as well as sunbathers. Fire pits, lounge seating and access to personal grilling stations invite guests to linger well into the evening.
The patio’s layout and seamless design creates a natural traffic pattern, allowing members to move from indoors to outside with ease. “The café flows flawlessly into the pool patio deck and then right into the tennis complex,” says Estrem. “It is one very relaxed area in which members feel welcome, just to lounge and hang out all day long.”
And they are doing just that. Since the pool café’s opening, Grey Oaks’ food-and-beverage business has increased by over 100%—a tremendous boost, given that seasonal business had been impacted somewhat during construction. Because the outdoor dining and adjoining space is strictly used for a la carte dining, management must continue to rely on this venue year-round. And with indoor seating for 130 and 180 seats outdoors, the spots are proving their worth.