The changing needs of its residential club members drove BallenIsles Country Club to transform its clubhouse locker rooms into “lifestyle and relaxation” space.
Amid the fine dining, elegant verandas and lush lounges, locker rooms can play second fiddle as an underappreciated convenience in some club and resort properties.
BallenIsles Country Club,
Architect: Chapman Coyle Chapman & Associates, Atlanta, Ga.
Interior Design: J. Banks Design Group, Hilton Head Island, S.C.
Men’s locker room/lounge area (2,200 sq. ft.):
Women’s locker room/lounge area (1,500 sq. ft.):
This can be even more true at residential clubs like BallenIsles Country Club in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., where members—all of whom reside in the community—have less need for traditional locker room space. Members’ residential proximity to the club allows them to arrive and depart from the club dressed and ready for any planned activities.
This trend led BallenIsles to re-envision its clubhouse locker rooms twice in the last decade. Most recently, as part of a $35 million, multi-year, ground-up renovation, the 55-year-old club reduced its clubhouse locker room space, giving way to additional “lifestyle and relaxation” lounge space, according to General Manager and Chief Operating Officer Ryan Walls.
In the newly constructed, 115,000-sq. ft. clubhouse, the most significant change for the women’s locker room is the location. While the locker room/lounge was once adjacent to the card rooms—as the men’s still is—the women’s is now situated toward the center of the club.
That move allowed the expanded ladies’ card rooms to benefit from exterior window walls, offering more natural light, which was considered less important for the locker room/lounge areas, explains Greg O’Neal, project manager for Atlanta-based architect Chapman Coyle Chapman & Associates.
The new men’s locker room was built adjacent to the men’s lounge area and card rooms. From this combined area, male members have access to a locker room attendant as well as the shoe room. Previously, the men’s space was one large room, with an alcove for lockers, explains O’Neal.
The new women’s locker room/lounge area, at 1,500 square feet, is smaller than the previous space by 300 feet. The new men’s space is 2,200 square feet, a reduction of 100 square feet, according to O’Neal.
The space is not devoid of lockers, just fewer in a smaller space, according to Walls. The locker room area features a number of half-size “day” lockers with combination locks, which are used primarily by guests.
The men’s lounge area exudes masculinity with darker stained wood and upgraded finishings on the wall coverings, notes O’Neal. The space is further enhanced with original artwork from galleries across the Southeastern United States, notes Melissa Mittag, Director of Brand Management at J. Banks Design Group in Hilton Head Island, S.C., which was involved with interior design for the project.
The women’s facility features light, bright painted finishes, soft seating and end tables. Both facilities include custom, built-in shelving for a longstanding book exchange library.
Wet areas include undermounted sinks, granite counters and built-in granite shelving. Each facility has two showers.
While there is no beverage or snack service in the lounge areas, members can bring their refreshments from the club’s dining facilities to the spaces while they relax, read or visit with friends.
Larger, more traditional locker room space is found in the club’s separate, on-site Sports Complex that was built about 10 years ago, explains Walls. A third locker room for the pool and tennis facilities allow members to shower and change before, between and after those activities.
Access to these additional locker rooms helped accommodate members during the renovation, Walls notes. The clubhouse was closed from May 2017 until the grand reopening this fall. Members operated out of the Sports Complex during the 2017 summer “off” season, when member usage is much lower.
A volunteer design and construction committee was instrumental in determining members’ desires for their new clubhouse.
The club’s Board of Directors and staff, along with the design committee, held multiple workshops with members, whose reaction has been “off the charts,” says Walls. The overall renovation is proving to be a significant advantage in attracting new residents/members, he adds.
“Our Board and designers listened to what our members wanted, and delivered on it,” says Walls. C&RB