After two years of postponed in-person events, meeting rooms are getting a new lease on club life.
School isn’t the only thing in session this month; conferences and other corporate events are having a resurgence and private clubs are answering the call with refreshed digs. While pandemic-driven regulations necessitated the temporary shutdown of in-person meetings, clubs used the down time to take a closer look at the services and accommodations these rooms lacked. The results are more polished, professional setups that have members brushing off their work wardrobes and rejoining their colleagues for corporate retreats and breakout meets.
Focus on Flexibility
A meeting space redesign was one of the main factors that motivated a clubhouse-wide renovation at Colonial Country Club in Fort Myers, Fla.
“Our membership had a greater need for more flexible meeting space and a wide range of technology,” says Sales and Marketing Manager Gabrielle Kreller. The club’s three designated meeting rooms, along with a 3,254-sq.-ft. ballroom used for master board association meetings and large presentations, were unveiled in March 2021 and have since generated a steady flow of events.
Comprising the better part of the main building, the East PDR and media room are located on the left side of the clubhouse, while the West PDR is on the opposite side. Collapsible walls between rooms allow for greater flexibility, so that meetings can be customized as needed. The 707-sq.-ft. East PDR and 390-sq.-ft. West PDR are set with six 48-inch square hardwood tables, each seating four guests. The 402-sq.-ft. media room is outfitted with a U-shaped conference table and hard-back seats, facing a wall-mounted, large-format monitor for videoconferencing.
Further enhancing the functionality of these rooms, blue and cream carpeting sporting an abstract design and adjustable lighting—controlled by a wall-mounted iPad—add ambiance to these respective spaces. Large windows that look out onto the 18th hole and surrounding lake offer alternative focal points for meeting goers.
With a steady flow of bookings since the meeting room renovation—including alternative uses as makeshift bridal suites and private dining venues—the versatility of these spaces has proven its worth at Colonial Country Club.
“The timeless and multiple configuration room design of our clubhouse has provided a better experience for our membership,” says Kreller.
Revived and Revitalized
Even a series of devastating wildfires in Northern California could not extinguish the spirit and camaraderie at The Fountaingrove Club in Santa Rosa, Calif., where management and membership joined together to begin rebuilding its clubhouse. A key component of the December 2021 property-wide reconstruction was the primary boardroom, a space that has become a multipurpose outlet for both members and staff.
Deemed the centerpiece of the clubhouse’s first floor and surrounded by glass retractable walls, the boardroom is visible immediately upon entering the clubhouse.
“The goal of our 2018 Board of Directors for this space was to create a sense of transparency, and this is exactly what this room provides our members and guests,” says General Manager Russ Bond. While its significance may appear larger than life, the room itself is designed to host small, intimate gatherings. Customizable walls and flexible furniture can be adjusted to accommodate various sized groups, with a maximum of 27 in the boardroom and between 17-60 guests in other clubhouse spaces.
Maintaining Fountaingrove’s original style, but with an appreciation for contemporary design, was essential when crafting the boardroom.
“The designers really put thought into what would make this space an extension of the natural landscape, just outside the walls of the clubhouse,” notes Bond.
Wood and stone elements adorn the space, as reflected in the overall structure and artwork. Of note is a misty-toned chandelier reminiscent of coastal fog, balanced out by a calming neutral color palette throughout.
Aesthetics aside, members can utilize the boardroom’s tech functionality by casting to smart televisions from their personal devices or connect directly to the club’s facilities. “The entire Fountaingrove campus has access to Wi-Fi; whether you’re working out on the elliptical or out on the 10th tee, you have access to our shared network,” says Bond.
With such versatility in its setup, the boardroom is in frequent use by both members and employees. In fact, each day at Fountaingrove begins with a management huddle session in this very space.
“We also encourage our members to use these spaces for themselves and their meetings, to create a chance for them to experience a different environment other than their own,” adds Bond. Recent events include member-led meetings and staff CPR training, along with a steady flow of regular get-togethers.
Since the club’s reopening, Bond has witnessed an outpouring of membership support and unwavering pride in what these new spaces, including the boardroom, have become.
“I believe we are just touching the surface on what this new clubhouse can provide our members and their guests, and we cannot wait to keep learning and being able to provide these opportunities to our members and staff,” he enthuses.
The Toast of the Clubhouse
Members at the Ravenna Club in Littleton, Colo., are raising a glass to Buona La Prima, a boardroom whose wine cellar-inspired design lets visitors feel like they’ve stepped inside a secret club. The space is the culmination of a two-year-long construction project for a 25,000-sq.-ft. clubhouse—the first for this private luxury golf club—that replaces a temporary facility with a permanent structure worthy of its membership.
“As a boutique club with limited membership, the clubhouse was ‘right-sized’ for the community,” says Hospitality and Event Manager Michelle Totte. Having opened its doors this past July, the boardroom has already garnered attention from members and non-members alike.
Covertly situated on the clubhouse’s lower level and accessible by a spiral staircase just off the bar and main dining room, the 2,500-sq.-ft. Buona La Prima is next to Ravenna’s burgeoning wine cellar, visible from the meeting room. The design is meant to resemble a wine grotto reminiscent of Ravenna, Italy, or a wine cave in California’s Napa Valley. Attention to detail is not only evident in the muted earth-toned furnishings and finishes, but in the architecture itself.
“[The room] is comprised of hand-built masonry with a unique barrel-vault ceiling that creates a striking, old-world environment with the added benefit of bank vault-like acoustics,” describes Totte. “It’s dead silent.”
Adding to this distraction-free zone, the boardroom is laid out with all of the essential technology for getting down to business. A 100-inch video monitor supports Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Google Meet, while wireless content sharing functionality lets multiple users share their screens simultaneously and even display their work in other areas of the clubhouse.
“If users are old school and just want to have a plain old telephone call, we have that ability too: with a wireless VOIP conference phone,” adds Director of Technology and Communications Chris Collins.
When not being used for conferences or business meetings, this space can accommodate private dinner parties for up to 50 guests. Because of its close proximity to Ravenna’s new 5,000-sq.-ft. kitchen, the club’s culinary staff can execute and serve catered meals and wine pairings with ease.
Since the clubhouse’s grand opening, the room has already generated a notable increase in membership inquiries and other private event usage. Totte credits the unique handcrafted design elements for drawing more attention to this space.
“It lends an air of gravitas to an upscale environment where important decisions are made,” she notes. Given that Buona La Prima is the only spot in the clubhouse open to non-members during off-peak business hours, this space is poised to become a true destination for all at Ravenna.
Convening for Conventions
Earlier this summer, members at Estero (Fla.) Country Club had cause for celebration. After decades without any dedicated meeting space, they were ready to embrace the opening of two conference rooms (along with three additional multipurpose spaces) to enhance the new indoor/outdoor and related amenities. Director of Membership and Marketing Meg Stepanian, CMP, describes the renovation project as “taking the clubhouse from how members had lived for the past 30 or so years, to how members interface in the clubhouse environment today.” By creating diverse meeting and seating areas for an active community, the club has been able to maintain its reputation while exceeding member expectations.
Located on either side of the club’s casual dining spot Mulligans, the Oak and Cypress rooms offer ample room for intimate meetings and other special events. Each space marries modern amenities with historical elements, allowing the club to stay true to its roots while keeping an eye on the future. Outfitted as a traditional boardroom, the 16 ½ x 22-foot Cypress Room is decorated in blues and greys in a style that Stepanian characterizes as coastal contemporary. Dynamic lighting is made up of can lights that accentuate a textured wall, three modern chandeliers hanging over the conference table, can lighting in the ceiling and spot cans over the cabinetry area. Hi-tech enhancements via sound, television and cameras complete the true conference experience, with seating for 12 guests.
Over in the 14 x 19-foot Oak Room, members enter through two doors retained from the original clubhouse. This secondary conference room features Zoom capability for off-site meeting participation, seating for 10 and a chandelier positioned over the conference table. Historical decorative pieces from the club are expected to outfit this room, but have not yet been specified.
In the short time since their opening, these spaces have played host to a variety of special events. This past June, a club member who is also a wine distributor held a business meeting/wine tasting in the Oak Room and Zoomed with fellow vintners from across the world.
“This would not have been possible with our old design,” notes Stepanian, adding that interest in bookings for both rooms has exploded. “Thanks to word of mouth, members want to have their family birthdays, anniversaries and other special outings here,” she says. “Their pride and enthusiasm have been out of sight. Even though our renovation had been postponed, it has proven to be a homerun.”
Summing It Up
> Meeting space renovations are providing more accommodations for corporate events and other intimate gatherings.
> Customizable rooms enable meetings of all sizes to be structured as needed.
> Proximity to other clubhouse amenities creates an all-inclusive experience for members and guests.