Taking Many Shapes

By | July 18th, 2018

Club and resort properties are developing a variety of new aquatic facilities to maximize their appeal to water-loving members.

Water. Humans love it, and not just because it makes a refreshing drink on a warm day. We enjoy exercising in it, splashing in it for fun, gliding across it on boats and just listening to the sound it makes.

And because our attraction to water drives much of the way that we play and relax, club and resort properties are turning to a variety of aquatic amenities to give members new options for fitness and recreation.


– Social functions held poolside are most successful when guests have ample seating options and access to shade.

– Strive to provide a range of aquatic amenities, so that older and younger members can all find something they enjoy.

– Water activities draw significantly more visitors during holiday weekends, and clubs need to be prepared to accommodate the influx.


Water’s Healthy Side

When Gleneagles Country Club in Delray Beach, Fla., decided it was time to freshen things up, the club’s staff embarked on a strategic planning process to determine the amenities members most wanted. “Our initiative was to develop a genuinely truly healthy lifestyle center,” says Kraig Spina, General Manager and COO.

The resulting $10 million project created a healthy lifestyle building with a spa and a new pool, which creates a focal point for many other activities at the club. “It’s L-shaped and more modernized, with a Euro edge so the water laps right up to the deck,” Spina says of the recent installation. An attractive Travertine deck, thoughtful landscaping and shade sails, to shield members from the sun, complete the picture.
With the new facility, Gleneagles members now have a number of new ways to get their fun and exercise. “We have Aquacise classes Monday through Saturday, and we have different instructors, so it offers a variety of classes for members to choose from,” Spina says of the club’s post-renovation programming.

With an average member age of around 65 years old, Spina says Gleneagles focuses much of its water-fitness activities on aerobic endurance and resistance training. “We play music during classes, and we just started Aqua Zumba, too,” he says.

The new pool provides the perfect nexus for social interactions. Spina’s team can fit about 250 chairs into the area for poolside dining that keeps the new water features front and center. “As soon as we opened, we didn’t have any available tables,” he says. “Every day at lunch, people wanted to sit by the pool.”
Evenings at Gleneagles now include poolside dinner dances, and the new area is also a prime spot for wedding receptions, with beautiful greenery and exterior lighting to keep the fun flowing from day into night.

Ocean Gate Resort takes full advantage of all of the various forms of water-related appeal that its property, which includes 1,400 feet of waterfront on a bay (above left), can provide for its guests.

Spina’s team held focus groups and community roundtables to gather input on what members wanted to achieve with the renovation. “The key is constant communication,” he says. “Do the research, get the member feedback, present to them what you plan on doing, get more feedback and make appropriate changes.”

And as part of looking at the various aquatic options for the new facility, the Gleneagles staff also visited a number of nearby clubs, to learn about what worked and the lessons that had come out of earlier projects. The other properties “were very forthcoming” in providing valuable insights, Spina says.

Making the Best of the “Backyard”

At the Ocean Gate Resort in Boothbay, Maine, 1,400 feet of waterfront creates the perfect centerpiece for guests. As part of a renovation that encompasses an outdoor heated pool area and hot tub, Susanne Wolfson, Ocean Gate’s General Manager, says the property is adding new aquatic equipment to enable visitors to maximize their enjoyment of the surrounding water.

“It includes a couple of kayaks—two-seaters and single seaters—plus some canoes and also stand-up paddleboards,” Wolfson says.

An outdoor heated pool (sse photo, pg. 46) and hot tub (above right) were added as part of a recent renovation.

In addition to taking full advantage of its location on a bay that offers water-going guests a good measure of protection, the Ocean Gate property also offers a fishing pond where visitors can enjoy some truly quiet time. And while the Maine weather often doesn’t fully cooperate until well into late spring, the outdoor heated pool provides a comfortable way to enjoy the water year-round.

Guests at Ocean Gate Resort appreciate the peaceful environment, Wolfson notes. “This is not a party location,” she explains. “It’s where people can relax and enjoy some time with their family and take part in all the activities we have here.”

And in addition to taking advantage of the on-site amenities, such as taking a kayak out for a quick bit of exploration, Wolfson says the resort can also direct guests to more elaborate water-based activities nearby, such as guided kayak tours and access to the area’s robust fishing opportunities.

Weddings are another popular event at Ocean Gate Resort, and here, too, water plays an important supporting role. “You’re overlooking the water and it’s just a beautiful spot with that backdrop,” Wolfson says, noting that the property receives inquiries about wedding dates more than a year in advance.

Even when the weather isn’t perfect, the fog (a common occurrence) still creates enthralling photos for any event. Other entertainment—both high- and low-energy—is also available thanks to the resort’s many aquatic amenities.

Pleasant Valley CC’s new splash park (right) replaced an older, small and seldom-used wading pool. It begins as zero-grade and includes ground jets and spoon and bucket features.

“We’re working on a program for the summer to include yoga on the lawn,” Wolfson says. The setting offers exercise and relaxation along the tranquil shoreline, and during the day, visitors may spot seals, loons and other species in the bay. “People just watch the wildlife that unfolds,” Wolfson says. In the evening, guests can watch the sun set over the water, while seated around fire pits.

Family-friendly Aquatics

More than half a million dollars in swimming pool improvements were just some of the upgrades for the recent $5 million renovation at Pleasant Valley Country Club in Little Rock, Ark.. Along with a splash park, the property also added new pool furniture, awnings, a new tile deck and a bar with lounge furniture.

“It’s been money very well-spent,” says General Manager Michael J. Auerbach, CCM. The revitalization will help the club keep pace in what Auerbach says is a changing business climate. “It’s not just about golf anymore,” he explains. “You have to be full circle—foodservice, a pool, tennis, fitness, everything.” This broader focus gives the property better footing to attract younger families, which Auerbach says is more important than ever.

Replacing an older, small and seldom-used wading pool, Pleasant Valley’s new splash park begins as zero grade and gradually increases. It includes ground jets, spoon features and a bucket that fills and empties. “For young kids, they get a kick out of that kind of stuff ,” Auerbach says. Children are indeed drawn to the features, and the splash park is typically packed, he reports.

Ocean Gate Resort has added aquatic equipment including kayaks (both two-seaters and single-seaters) as well as canoes and stand-up paddleboards as on-site amenities. The staff will also direct guests to more elaborate water-based activities nearby, including guided kayak tours and access to the area’s robust fishing opportunities.

Open from the Memorial Day through Labor Day weekends, Pleasant Valley’s new aquatic amenities support swim lessons—either private or in small groups—along with adult exercise classes such as water aerobics. The large pool is also prepared to handle the club’s big holiday celebrations.

In between, Auerbach says, “We do tons of birthday parties, where they take up a section of the club and we do food and beverage.” These smaller gatherings usually accommodate 20 to 30 people.

Other club functions are held in the pool area as well, with bands and DJs providing entertainment as members enjoy food off the grill. “There’s an assigned manager that works in conjunction with the catering department for parties, so it’s a team effort,” Auerbach says.

As was also the case at Gleneagles and Ocean Gate, designing water amenities with guests in mind has been a key to the success of Pleasant Valley’s new facility.

“You can have the most beautiful pool, but if it’s not family-friendly, then people won’t come,” Auerbach says. The pool now plays a central role in achieving Pleasant Valley’s mission to be very family-oriented, and the results have been overwhelmingly positive. “We have members joining from other clubs, because their kids want to hang out here and not at the club they belong to,” Auerbach notes.

Bottling the Message

Gleneagles Country Club’s regular newsletters provide most of the marketing horsepower for the club’s new lifestyle facility and its aquatic amenities. “We also do a really good job of social media through Facebook, and then we’ve got our website and we send out weekly updates as well. And of course, there’s also Instagram,” says General Manager/COO Kraig Spina.

As members enter the new building, they see information about aquatic activities on two digital media centers, where a continuous loop plays the latest programming and events news. Spina says there’s something for everyone. “Whether you’re twelve years old or seventy-five, when you go to the pool area, it’s beautiful,” he notes.

The outdoor heated pool provides guests at Ocean Edge Resort with a comfortable way to enjoy the water, even when the Maine climate may not be providing its warmest welcome.

Online notifications, reminders and signage all help to keep the water features front and center for Pleasant Valley Country Club’s members, too. But General Manager Michael J. Auerbach, CCM, says, “The monthly newsletter is probably our biggest communication effort.”

The bulk of Pleasant Valley’s aquatics-related marketing messages are focused right before the season begins, so members can plan their activities with the
pool and splash park in mind. Providing an environment that’s fun and inviting does most of the work, though, and in a more organic way. “If you upgrade the facilities and you give the people a reason to want to come, they will,” Auerbach says.

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