Sugar Beet Market at Heritage Shores is designed to serve as a general store, gift shop, apparel boutique, fresh food and wine market, casual indoor and outdoor dining outlet, pub, entertainment venue, and more.
Golf communities, by definition, impose limits on themselves by bringing real estate into the mix. Some, like Heritage Shores in Bridgeville, Del., go even further, with specific demographic requirements (rather than 55-plus, Heritage Shores prefers to use “55 and better”).
And Heritage Shores has also been challenged, since it was created in 2007 by Brookfield, a Canadian-based developer, from the limited exposure afforded by its location. Those who find their way to the 800-acre property are immediately taken with its peaceful and pastoral charms, not to mention the appeal of its Arthur Hills-designed championship course, spacious 28,000-sq. ft. clubhouse and a host of other recreational and social amenities.
But Heritage Shores can still be easily missed by many from the Washington, D.C. and Baltimore areas who blow by it on their way east to the Delaware and Maryland beaches, or by those from Philadelphia and points north as they pass through southern Delaware to use the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and Tunnel and avoid D.C.’s horrible traffic on their way to Virginia or the Carolinas.
Heritage Shores’ developer has certainly not imposed any limits, however, on its efforts to 1) put the property on the map and 2) ensure that those who do find it come away with a lasting impression (and then tell others) that this is hardly your grandpa’s senior community. Entering its 10th anniversary year, about of a third of a planned 1,800 homes had been sold, club membership exceeded 300, 30,000 rounds were being played on the Hills course, and wedding/event business had swelled (with 55 to 65 weddings a year alone) to the point where a major kitchen renovation was undertaken to double existing space and put in a separate banquet line.
In the past two years, Brookfield’s steps to continue to take the property to another level have included luring an accomplished private-club manager, Robert Anen, CCM, to bring his expertise from respected Philadelphia-area clubs (Huntingdon Valley CC, Brookside CC, Merion Cricket Club) to Bridgeville to become Heritage Shores’ new General Manager, and contracting with Billy Casper Golf to be managed as part of its Signature private-club division.
Then, last fall, Heritage Shores took an even bolder step to show how serious it was about not putting any limits on how management and ownership seeks to get the property noticed, and used, by as wide a circle of potential residents and customers as possible. In November, it unveiled Sugar Beet Market, a stand-alone facility that is open to residents, members and the general public for a host of needs and wants that its slogan, “Eat, Sip and Shop,” only covers in the most general sense. The emporium is designed to serve, all at once, as a convenience/general store, specialty gift shop, signature golf apparel boutique, trendy fresh food and wine market, casual indoor and outdoor dining outlet with made-to-order specialties, pub, entertainment venue, and more.
So named, Anen says, because the sugar beet is the “underdog” in agriculture that serves a multitude of important purposes, the market has been planned to meet a variety of goals for Heritage Shores. While driving real-estate sales and providing another amenity for existing residents and members remain primary objectives, Sugar Beet is also seen as a unique draw that will get more travelers, and locals, to turn off the highways that border the property and then come sit, and shop, for a while.
The market’s menus and entertainment schedules are being marketed aggressively through social media and other outlets, and consumers are also being drawn to its wide variety of merchandise by shows that highlight local artists, craftsmen and purveyors who provide everything from stained glass to jewelry to jellies and jams. There’s even a display of wooden toys and other decorative items made by Heritage Shores members in the club’s wood shop (members get a percentage when their consigned items are sold, which they usually donate to charity or put back into materials and equipment for the wood shop).
Although the new market is located within an easy stroll (or quick “Beetmobile” ride) along a waterside path from the Heritage Shores clubhouse, it was specifically designed not to have another clubhouse feel, Anen says. Instead, he describes it as “a rustic waterfront bar”—but here again, the description only goes so far, as he also refers to the market’s foodservice theme as “Panera grab-and-go” and invokes other comparisons for other parts of the operation.
Whatever it’s called, or however it’s perceived, the Sugar Beet Market already seems well on its way to making positive impressions with all who come to experience it, whether they’re already part of the Heritage Shores community or discovering the property for the first time. While Anen admits that refining Sugar Beet’s offers, and the roles that it plays in the Heritage Shores story, will be a “evolving” process as it goes through its first full season and beyond, management has drawn encouragement from the degree to which it has already helped to expand awareness about the property.
Marketing Coordinator Heather Capezio estimates that 40% of the market’s food-and-beverage business to date has come from the outside public, with that percentage often doubling on some days or nights. And groups from local businesses, she adds, now make Sugar Beet their go-to happy-hour destination—perhaps the best indication that unlimited success lies ahead.
When 100 parking spots were lost during a recent renovation at Woodfield Country Club, Boca Raton, Fla., the club conducted a parking study. Employees now park at the golf maintenance facility and are shuttled to the clubhouse, and more flexible staff park on the road outside the entrance. The club also formed partnerships with local city parks to use their lots during popular club events…The “F&B Ironman” competition at Addison Reserve Country Club, Delray Beach, Fla., built employee camaraderie and helped workers blow off steam while sharpening their prep and serving skills through a series of challenges that included “Prep Your Station!” (acquiring and peeling a set number of veggies), “Meringue for Days!” (separating eggs and whipping to soft peak), Event Set-Up, Move Those Tables and “Happy Hour!” (running two martinis across the patio against oncoming traffic)…After seeking bids for a splash park project that amounted to $20,000, the pool and fitness director at Champions Run, Omaha, Neb., built one out of PVC pipes and hoses. The project included a palm tree spray feature, bucket dump, and water cannon, at a cost of $200. To improve staff morale at the pool and build camaraderie, the swim-team coaches at Champions Run dressed up in formal attire and lip-synced Justin Timberlake’s “Can’t Stop the Feeling” for a video that was shown at the end-of-season swim banquet. The biggest takeaway from making the video, the club found, was discovering that everyone wanted to be a part of it, which showed that it provided incentive to earn coveted positions on the pool and swim-team staff. Repainting its parking lot with diagonal lines, which has two entrances, helped to create a one-way flow of traffic at Champions Run. The new configuration helped to prevent cars from backing into one another and created a safer environment for children coming to and from junior sports. The club also enhanced safety by adding more speed-limit and children-playing signs. To help educate and raise awareness on the differences between heat stroke and heat exhaustion, Champions Run created and printed signs with easy-to-understand graphics about the symptoms of both afflictions, along with prevention tips and instructions for how to respond should overexposure occur. During the hottest days of summer, free Gatorade and water was offered to all members and staff, with the pool café staff preparing tubs of the liquids to encourage everyone to partake of them whenever the temperatures rose…The Country Club of Virginia, Richmond, Va., created a CCV Cares Coat Closet as a place for employees to donate clean and well-cared-for coats that they no longer need, and where others who need coats for themselves or their families can anonymously select from the donations