Club and resort properties are showering members and guests with more out-of-the-water amenities to enhance their pool experience, including refreshed locker rooms, bath houses and pool-deck dining spots.
These days, it’s not enough for club and resort properties to rest their laurels on a well-designed pool; they also need to support those structures with a full roster of amenities, to cater to all that members and guests may want and need while spending their days, and nights, in and around the water.
As properties prepare campus-wide improvement plans for the coming year, much of the focus is on updating poolside dining options, locker rooms and bath houses, to round out a comprehensive pool complex and provide a fully satisfying swim-and-stay experience.
Rounding Out “The Bend”
At River Bend Club in Falls Church, Va., updating pool amenities not only included an expansion of the original pool, but a relocated outdoor bar and completely refreshed locker rooms.
SUMMING IT UP
• Re-organizing existing pool-complex amenities can improve overall operations and lead to higher and extended usage patterns.
• Bath house and locker room makeovers should include non-slip flooring in high-traffic areas.
• Updating outdoor dining options can present an opportunity to expand menu offerings.
Increasing pool capacity by 2,500 sq. ft. and adding two swimming lanes warranted more space for members to relax post-swim. A shaded and private party area was expanded to roughly 1,000 sq. ft., while the bar area was doubled in size to 600 sq. ft., “to allow for more member seating and a better poolside view,” explains Atari.
Food-and-beverage operations were also given a boost, thanks to the installation of a new pizza oven and a refreshed poolside menu. Chicken tenders and fries are now rounded out by more sophisticated offerings of avocado toast and grilled salads.
To further enhance the pool facility, River Bend’s fitness center locker rooms were also updated. “The building that our pool locker rooms are in is about 14 years old, and it was time to renovate them; everything in the old design was out of date,” says Atari.
While the number of half-size lockers remained the same, the surrounding amenities were completely refreshed, with subway tiles around the sinks and showers, frosted shower doors, tile flooring and recessed LED lighting.
Having completed its first full season following the renovation, River Bend has experienced a boom in its pool complex usage. Atari reports a notable uptick in club membership over the summer, and a 35 percent increase in overall revenues for pool operations.
Feedback regarding the locker rooms has been favorable, not only increasing monthly pool usage, but member morale. Atari credits these changes with “creating a new, updated space for members to bring their families, neighbors and guests where they can feel at home—the limits of our new pool complex are infinite.”
A Splashy ‘Wow’ Factor
As the saying goes, “there’s always room for improvement”—and at the Country Club of Landfall in Wilmington, N.C., management put that wisdom into practice when updating its pool facilities last year.
“Our club already offered a very good pool complex, but we felt the pool design and pool-deck flow could be better organized and given a much more up-to-date look,” says Membership Director Kristin Wilson. Construction began in February 2017 and wrapped last December, with final landscaping completed in early spring 2018—just in time for last May’s season reopening.
(While weather did not pose a concern during the construction process, progress was hindered by stormwater-permitting issues that prevented the club from opening the pool for the 2017 season. Management dealt with this obstacle by creating pool-use agreements with neighboring clubs.)
Along with a brand-new rim-flow pool, larger deep end and a slide, the renovation included a revised layout for the surrounding amenities. The bath house was relocated to a more central location overlooking the pool deck, while additional steps and entry areas now enhance the grill area and snack bar.
Wilson credits this change with allowing members easier access while also creating easier service points for the staff. “Everything is in close proximity for the convenience of members and their guests,” she notes.
The spot occupying the original bath house became a brand-new kids’ clubhouse, adjacent to the kids’ pool and play area.
Poolside decking was given a makeover to create a more intimate feel for members. “We were very thoughtful about where we placed trees, umbrellas and the landscaping, to provide unique ‘pockets’ for privacy,” Wilson adds.
The bath house itself was outfitted with a centrally located, generously sized family changing area. Custom flooring with small-scale tiles provides slip resistance, which is built into the finish.
What 2017’s pool season may have lacked because of the permitting delays has since been more than made up for, with Wilson dubbing 2018’s pool season as “tremendous.”
“This year, we saw a surge in new sports memberships; they were up over 200 percent from last year, as a direct effect of the renovations,” she notes. Customer feedback has been consistently favorable, she adds, as the new and previous members have all immersed themselves in getting full enjoyment from the upgraded pool complex.
“In addition to constant ‘wows,’ our members are telling us that it is more than they expected and well worth the investment,” Wilson reports. And aside from the pool aesthetics, the practicality of the redesign can’t be ignored.
“The addition of the bath house has enhanced the club by providing families and swimmers with a lovely amenity, while keeping the fitness locker rooms and tennis restrooms dry,” adds Wilson.
Maximizing the Season
When Birmingham (Mich.) Country Club embarked on a two-year, club-wide renovation project in 2015, an updated bath house was high on the list of must-have enhancements. “Our existing locker rooms were worn out and inadequate, with nothing done since the mid-90s,” says General Manager/Chief Operating Officer Joe Basso, MCM, CCE “We upgraded virtually everything.”
While the bath house’s original footprint remains intact—comprised of men’s and women’s locker rooms at 1,200 sq. ft. apiece, along with 600 sq. ft. of administrative and storage areas and a modest-sized family restroom—upgrades were made throughout the building to improve safety and maintenance requirements.
Non-slip flooring replaced rubber mats inundated with mold and mildew, while shatterproof lighting provided higher-quality illumination. Swapping out rusted metal lockers in favor of composite models minimized wear and tear, as did increasing the HVAC load to ward off further moisture.
But perhaps the greatest improvement to Birmingham CC’s pool complex was the creation of a two-story food-and-beverage outlet, which came about practically by accident.
“For years, we lacked any real poolside service other than food from our snack bar and poolside cocktail servers who roamed the deck for drink orders, but then had to go all the way inside the clubhouse for service,” explains Basso. “If you were lounging at the pool, it was a painful process.”
After the club’s facilities manager cobbled together a makeshift tiki bar, it quickly proved its worth—and outgrew its ability to accommodate a growing customer base. That prompted management to devote more space and resources to a more dedicated outdoor dining facility.
Aptly named The Dive Bar (on the bottom) and The High Dive (on the top), the 800-sq.-ft. summer casual dining space has become the club’s most profitable space, despite being open for only four months out of the year.
Sitting in the space that formerly housed the tiki bar, The Dive Bar can accommodate 48 guests at table seating and another 10 at the bar. The bar itself, which is fully equipped with tap beer, blenders and refrigeration, boasts granite countertops and stone facing. The ceiling is outfitted with fans and bronze-painted conduit and piping, and lit ceiling fans and recessed down lighting provide illumination. Bronzed wrought iron furniture completes the look of this casual-dining hot spot.
“It definitely has a resort-bar feel to it, which is in keeping with where most private-club aquatic facilities are going these days,” notes Basso.
To keep consistent with the resort-style vibe, The High Dive is an open area that includes soft and table seating, a smaller bar and a pizza kitchen. It has since been updated with an extensive shaded area with pergolas.
“We underestimated the need for massive amounts of shade—yes, Michigan gets a lot of sun in the summer—but with the amount of wind that we encounter, we didn’t think standard umbrellas would work,” says Basso, acknowledging that the first two seasons posed some unexpected challenges. “We finally got it right this year.”
During the course of making these updates, management was tasked with the challenge of getting the foundation completed before winter (this required overtime for construction crews on the job, Basso notes). Those additional costs aside, the biggest obstacle came from government-stipulated overhead fire suppression after the ceiling had already been installed.
“I would encourage anyone doing construction to go the extra mile to make sure you are code-compliant from the original design,” Basso advises. “Do not rely on your architect or contractor to ensure this.”
With those issues now behind him, Basso is enthused by the positive results the improvements have made for BCC’s overall business. In the past three years, membership has jumped from 560 to 626 families, and this year has seen total revenue grow to over $9 million.
What’s even more noteworthy is how extended hours of operation—for The High Bar on Fridays (with music) and Saturdays in the fall and The Dive Bar on Saturdays and Sundays through football season—have helped bring in additional member usage.
“These end up not being traditional pool-complex F&B outlets, but extend for a season of their own that lasts from April to October,” Basso notes. C&RB
Primed for Changing Times
At La Paloma Country Club in Tucson, Ariz., members are getting ready to take advantage of a months-long, multimillion-dollar renovation. This past May, a construction crew broke ground on facility-wide enhancements, including the clubhouse, driving range and fitness center.
“By the end of November, members will enjoy a broader range of amenities and features across the club,” says General Manager David Stout. The improvements include new locker rooms in the expanded fitness center, which includes a lap pool.
While members can also use locker rooms situated in the main clubhouse, providing them access to the golf shop and golf course, another set of lockers is being located in the fitness center. A total of 48 half-size lockers (an even number between the men’s and women’s locker rooms), awash in a muted gray, are designed to fit into the neutral-toned setting.
“With the easier access, members can change clothes, shower and use the restroom facilities,” says Stout about the locker rooms’ proximity to the fitness center’s lap pool.
It was expected that La Paloma’s members would be able to utilize these facilities by the end of October, and the club planned to host a grand re-opening event in November, to showcase both the main clubhouse and fitness facilities.