Catering to the changing business needs of members and guests has spawned inventive approaches to providing meeting and event space at club and resort properties.
Golf and tennis aren’t the only games in town when it comes to the club business. As members look for possible venues for conducting corporate retreats, team-building exercises and other structured meetings, they are more inclined to utilize club facilities and maximize their membership benefits.
SUMMING IT UP
• Flexible floor plans in meeting rooms allow space to be customized
according to attendee numbers and functional needs.
• Providing easy access to food-and-beverage options creates an appealing package for local businesses looking to hold all-day meetings.
• Showcasing personal memorabilia in meeting rooms provides an engaging format for paying tribute to a club’s history, and can serve as effective marketing to potential members.
To better appeal to the business of doing business at their properties, clubs and resorts must keep up with meeting space trends and provide customizable spaces that are outfitted with high-tech capabilities and provide easy access to food-and-beverage options, all in a more casual and interactive setting that fits with today’s greater variety of business styles. The result is a one-stop shop that serves all of members’ and guests’ needs—and then some.
At the JW Marriott Camelback Inn Resort & Spa in Scottsdale, Ariz., the recent addition of a massive ballroom that can be divided and customized into smaller meeting rooms has enhanced this facility’s available business accommodations. Adjacent to the main lobby on the southeast side of the property, the 15,000-sq. ft. Paradise Ballroom opened its doors this past summer.
Extending the resort’s previous meeting space by an extra 4,000 square feet, the completely refreshed ballroom, designed by Scottsdale-based PHX Architecture, boasts what General Manager Jim Rose now describes as a “much more contemporary look” in a neutral palette of browns, blues and greys. The use of nano doors and windows, in combination with adjustable airwalls, facilitates a customizable floor plan that can be divided into eight separate rooms as needed. Accommodations range from 80 guests in an 818-sq.-ft. configuration to 480 guests in a 4,280-sq.-ft. location.
To personalize this setting, patterned carpeting pays tribute to the area’s Camelback Mountain range, and wall art is culled from J. Willard “Bill” Marriott, Jr.’s personal collection. A combination of natural lighting from the foyers and unobtrusive LED lighting helps to illuminate the space, while high-speed Internet access and built-in outlets and chargers provide high-tech amenities.During the course of the nearly year-long construction phase, management made a special effort to minimize the disruption for visitors. “We erected a fashionable construction wall in front of the area, so there was not a huge eyesore when [guests] arrived,” says Rose. “We also completed most major work on lower-occupancy days and purposefully scheduled the trenching, concrete pours and steel work to be done over the summer, which is a very low-occupancy timeframe.”
With the Paradise Ballroom complete and minor revision work to the existing Arizona Ballroom due to wrap sometime before the end of the year, the Marriott Camelback is now poised to more fully accommodate both new business and former clients.
“We have been able to go after meetings that we had previously outgrown,” Rose notes. “It has given us a good bit of PR to spread the word that we are one of the hidden gems of Scottsdale.”
True to its Roots
For Royal Golf Club in Lake Elmo, Minn., what once served as a private restaurant and recreation facility for 3M employees has since become a meeting destination for the company’s executives. Originally constructed in the 1960s, the building that houses conference facilities has undergone a series of structural and personnel changes, including new ownership. Last summer, this facility underwent a building-wide renovation, which included four new state-of-the-art meeting rooms.
Located on the ground floor, the meeting rooms comprise a total of 1,900 square feet and have access to the club’s food-and-beverage facilities. Each room can seat between 10 to 20 people, and two of the rooms can be combined to accommodate larger groups. “Several configurations are possible due to glass partition panels and other partitions,” explains General Manager Ken Galloway of the flexible layout.
Black conference room tables and chairs are offset by brown quartz tile flooring and light brown walls. LED lighting shines a spotlight on photos and artwork depicting golf legends including Arnold Palmer and Annika Sorenstam (for whom the club’s golf courses are named), along with images of Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and other well-known pros.
Aesthetics aside, Royal Golf Club’s meeting space is outfitted with a variety of hi-tech capabilities and services, such as Click Share, Creston Air Media, conference-room phones and high-speed Internet access. A total of 24 flat-screen monitors are located throughout the building, and up to 1,300 devices can be accommodated via wi-fi.
Since the refurbishhment of the meeting rooms in July 2017, Galloway says Royal GC has seen an “exponential rise” in business. While the club has retained 3M as its major meeting room client, it also played host for the Greats of Golf conference this past summer and the Annika Invitational.
“We plan to continue with that relationship,” notes Galloway, adding that the club will also be affiliated with a new PGA Tour event, The 3M Open, that is scheduled to come to the Twin Cities area in July 2019.
Reinventing the Business Scene
To keep up with the increasingly expanding local business environment, The Metropolitan in Chicago, a ClubCorp property, updated its lifestyle club earlier this fall with a $10 million “reinvention.”
“Chicago is becoming a mecca for new industries, and for [The Metropolitan] to remain the premier business club in the city, it was necessary to build a modern business environment to meet the demands of the sophisticated Chicago business professional,” explains General Manager Simona Blaugh.
Amassing 1,500 square feet that spans two floors of the city’s Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower), meeting spaces at The Metropolitan are available in 16 private rooms. Thanks to an open and modular design, these facilities are equipped to handle both intimate meetings of four and larger-scale conferences of up to 500.
Blaugh describes the space as “designed to evoke Chicago landscape and architecture, as well as the airy, hallmark signature of Frank Lloyd Wright design.” The décor is awash in a combination of hues that reflect the landscape: black steel like the Willis Tower, blue as a nod to Lake Michigan and earth tones that evoke the Midwestern prairie.
Furnishings range from AV-compatible conference tables and executive chairs to lounge furniture and reception tablescapes. Overhead LED lighting is balanced out by added accent pieces, while modern walnut flooring and sound-absorbing carpet are underfoot. Wall art pays homage to the club’s rich history (it was formed in 1974 as The Metropolitan Club).
The Metropolitan’s members-only spaces are located on the 67th floor, with the office area, called the Blueprint, taking up most of the floor with its offices, meeting rooms, an open workspace, a small stage, and a local beer-and-bourbon bar (see photo, pg. 24).
During the reinvention projetct, membership benefits were not compromised. “We have the pleasure of being part of an extensive private-club network within [ClubCorp], and our sister clubs were able to welcome our members as their own during the [project], so our members felt as little disruption as possible,” says Blaugh. “We also reached out to other hospitality businesses in the area, such as co-working spaces, wine clubs and hotels, to set up business and social accommodations.”
With almost 3,000 members, The Metropolitan is now capitalizing on the success of its broadened services as they are being enjoyed by an ever-expanding business-professional demographic. The improvements that have been made, Blaugh notes, only seek to enhance the overall member experience by taking the long view.
“We use the word ‘reinvention’ very purposefully,” she explains. “A renovation knocks down walls, while a reinvention allows us to measure all aspects of our product and services, to continue serving our members and guests.”
At the Pelican Isle Yacht Club in North Naples, Fla., a recent project to enhance the casual dining scene resulted in new meeting space that allows guests to conduct business while enjoying lunch or dinner. While construction was temporarily delayed by Hurricane Irma in September 2017, the space was opened for use by January 2018 and has been in full swing ever since.
Contained within the Pelican Isle clubhouse, the meeting facilities offer four distinct options. The 300-sq.-ft. Commodore Room, overlooking the Cocohatchee River, is designed for small business meetings and can be combined with the 480-sq.-ft. Chart Room and used for breakout sessions or meals. An 800-sq. ft. Privateer Room and 2,000-sq.-ft. Quarterdeck, which can be configured in the style of a lecture hall, round out the options.
“The greatest achievement of our renovation is the cohesive use and flexibility of our clubhouse spaces,” says General Manager Ali Feezor, who notes that most meetings are preceded or followed by a food-and-beverage event that can take place indoors or outdoors.
“One of the more popular itineraries we see for board meetings or team-appreciation events is a meeting followed by a cocktail cruise and then dinner in one of our private dining rooms,” Feezor notes.
A customizable layout lends itself just as well to intimate gatherings of three or four participants as it does for larger meetings up to 100. Adjacent rooms are separated by partitions that can be enlarged to accommodate a larger group or used to reveal a group’s next event.
Each room is outfitted in a nautical theme, featuring navy and blue furnishings with wood and brass accents (see photos above). Custom carpeting incorporating a nautical compass featured in the club’s logo further enhances the theme.
Wooden tables and comfortable chairs can be configured as needed, and lighting is a mix of LED-combo recessed, chandeliers and sconces that are adjustable for meetings or dining. A portable 72-inch AV monitor can be used in any room in the clubhouse. “This gives us great flexibility for when a group is a little smaller or wants to do a different type of setup,” says Feezor.
Since the meeting rooms’ debut, the club has experienced an uptick in a new form of business, which translates to more time spent on the premises. “The most evident increase has been our members using the smaller spaces for lunch meetings, whether with colleagues, clients or organizations that they belong to that normally meet elsewhere,” Feezor notes.
This past summer, Pelican Isle hosted a variety of local organizations, including the Bonita Springs Chamber of Commerce and the Naples Area Board of Realtors. “We have heard nothing but great feedback from our partners in the community that have hosted an event with us,” says Feezor. C&RB
Meeting Current and Future Needs
Club and resort properties looking to invest in new business facilities need to prudently examine exactly what professionals need, both currently and long-term, to conduct meetings on their sites. “As the industry evolves and expands, just as meeting planners must continually evaluate all elements of the meeting experience, operators and suppliers must also ensure they are meeting and anticipating the changing needs of planners,” says Mark Cooper, CEO of the International Association of Conference Centers (IACC).
The 2018 IACC Meeting Room of the Future Report included these observations on key trends to note:
• High-quality Internet will continue to be the most important meeting element.
• “Experience creation” through value-added services is expected to become more important.
• Flexible meeting spaces are growing in popularity.
• Easy screen-sharing between devices is becoming more important for collaboration in meetings.
• Continuous refreshment service (instead of time-limited breaks) is becoming more common.
For more information and insights, visit IACConline.org.