Permanent pavilions can help to extend life outside the clubhouse walls, while still offering a breath of fresh air for management, members and guests.
SUMMING IT UP
• lnvesting in a permanent structure helps to convey the impression of a professional setting for prospective business, while also provide assurances of an all-weather operation.
• Climate changes can precipitate a need for updating structures’ HVAC capabilities.
• Layouts and positioning of pavilions that take full advantage of photogenic backdrops are key for marketing to bridal parties.
Stability isn’t something a club or resort can take for granted, especially when it comes to investing in a tent or pavilion. Management must determine what type of structure best fits its membership—is there a substantial wedding and/or corporate clientele?—and then consider such factors as cost, climate and location.
As more facilities look for opportunities to extend their business into the offseason, providing a permanent pavilion allows them to not only satisfy their current membership’s needs, but also appeal to the greater community by offering a resource they may not otherwise have considered.
Banking on Banquet Space
At the Aldeen Golf Club in Rockford, Ill., a 40’ x 60’ tent that had housed golf-outing meals and private parties had outworn its usefulness and was in dire need of replacement. “While the tent held many events over the years, its limitations [when weather was less than ideal] caused it to be underutilized, and it wasn’t enough of a selling point in attracting new golf outings,” explains General Manager Duncan Geddes.
But thanks to a generous private donation, a naming rights agreement with Rockford Bank & Trust and a financial arrangement with a local restaurant and banquet provider, the club was able to re-open a new facility, known as the Rockford Bank & Trust Pavilion, last August.
While northern Illinois’s erratic weather played a part in opting for a more permanent structure, the prospect of extending Aldeen GC’s operations into a full calendar year was also a key driver in the decision. The prospect of reduced maintenance also intrigued management, as the former tent required breakdown and storage each winter and regular cleaning in the summer months.
“The pavilion building requires cleaning after events, but there is minimal maintenance at this point, other than grounds maintenance to the planting beds and turf areas nearby,” notes Geddes.
To complement the existing club aesthetics, a local architectural firm (which had previously designed the clubhouse and other Aldeen Golf Club facilities) designed a post-frame, 9,450-sq.n ft. building that includes granite stone featured on the entrance, columns and the hearth of a six-foot gas fireplace that serves as a focal point.
“The overall design was intended to be semi-formal and neutral enough in design elements that a variety of different uses, from weddings to banquets to golf events, would be given a blank slate that could be decorated to fit their individual needs,” Geddes says of the 250-seat space. Vinyl flooring is meant to resemble barn wood, while the ceiling features an exposed scissor-truss design with exposed spiral duct work for the forced-air heating and cooling system. Lighting is provided by an array of large chandeliers, cove lighting and wall sconces.
In addition to the main banquet space, the all-inclusive pavilion contains a full kitchen with multiple walk-in freezers and coolers, gas cooktops, ovens, a large busing area and storage. Additional amenities include a bride’s room, coat room, liquor storage room, storage closets, restrooms and portable bars.
Easy access to the outdoors is provided by a covered, wrap-around porch on three sides and two white PVC pergolas that overlook the golf course. “They provide great photo backdrops for pictures,” says Geddes, adding that an adjacent open grass area can also be utilized for other outdoor activities.
While the pavilion’s versatility is clearly an asset, management needed to ensure that the vision of a multi-purpose facility did, in fact, come to fruition during the design process. The challenge of working with a large group, including the park district’s capital design and construction team, contractors, donors and naming-rights partners, required good communication and solid teamwork.
Ultimately, this hard work paid off, as evidenced by the glowing reviews from club members and guests. “The location of the building on the property, the views from the building looking out onto the golf course, and the view of the building from the golfer’s perspective are all seen as a complement to the overall golf club,” Geddes reports.
Unveiling a Bridal Suite
At Saddleback Golf Club in Fire-stone, Colo., the original pavilion has undergone a series of updates since its inception in 2001. In 2011, floor-to-ceiling glass doors were added, along with restrooms and heating.
Four years later, a catering kitchen became a necessity as a result of an uptick in weddings and to help create a seamless flow for food-and-beverage operations. This past November, a modest-sized bridal suite became part of the pavilion, creating a full-amenity facility designed to service wedding parties from start to finish.
The preference for a pavilion over a tent was always a given for Saddleback’s management. “Tents are temporary, whereas pavilions are permanent,” explains Owner Lanna O’Malley. “Although the cost of a pavilion upfront is higher, it is always there and looks more professional.”
The stained concrete flooring of Saddleback’s pavilion can be power-washed, O’Malley notes, and its three sides of glass walls are professionally cleaned following an event. Market lighting is draped from the vaulted ceilings, and guests look out onto the mountainous Colorado landscape, which provides a photogenic backdrop for golf tournaments, wedding receptions, corporate events and other functions that seat up to 160 guests.
Because of the recent shift in weather patterns, adding air conditioning to the pavilion has become a necessity and is scheduled for this coming spring. In the past, the club relied on evaporative fans with coolers that proved to be a nuisance.
“For weddings, they don’t look very attractive and they are noisy,” O’Malley explains. “Colorado evenings used to be cooler, but now the air feels warm all the time, so we decided to upgrade our HVAC system in mid-January.”
Timing these enhancements has become a matter of practice at Saddleback over the years, as management has learned to plan them around the club’s busy season. “Our main business is done from April through October,” O’Malley explains, pointing out that the bridal suite was added immediately after the last wedding booking at the end of October. “We had about one month before Christmas parties began. After the New Year, we’ll begin the [air conditioning upgrade].”
After the new bridal suite was used for the first time, O’Malley was confident that the addition will be a strong asset for future business. “I can definitely say that 100 percent of the brides we’ve had in the past asked about whether we had a bridal suite,” she notes. And now she can answer in the affirmative.
From Tenuous to Permanent
At The Abbey Resort and Avani Spa in Fontana, Wis., enhancing amenities for catered events and large parties required a more dedicated approach. “During the plan-development phase, we considered renovating the existing area by simply upgrading the tent that had previously been in place,” says General Manager Michael Lucero. “But we opted for a temperature-controlled pavilion, primarily due to Wisconsin’s unpredictable weather and air temperatures during spring and fall, which are prime wedding months.” As a result, the resort completed work on its brand-new Western Pavilion last May.
Compared to its former tent, the property’s new temperature-controlled pavilion requires very little maintenance and is credited for shielding guests from the rain and extreme temperatures associated with typical Midwestern winters. Polished concrete floors can be outfitted with an optional dance floor, and overhead, a white ceiling is lined with white drapery and six chandeliers that help to create ambiance.
“Many of our guests choose to supplement the pavilion’s existing linens and lighting with their own colorful lanterns, up lighting, string lighting and other décor to personalize the space,” says Lucero. “The pavilion is well-equipped to handle the electrical and foundational needs of those additions.”
To further accent the pavilion’s aesthetics, large windows look out on 90 acres of landscaped grounds, including a canopy-covered walkway that leads to rest areas, an outdoor cemented patio area, and a fire pit that is popular for cocktail hours.
“We find that many couples really love the idea of an outdoor venue, but in Wisconsin, they might hesitate on [pursuing] that idea due to fear of unpredictable weather,” Lucero notes. But thanks to the pavilion’s sizable footprint, it can provide assurance for safe and sheltered accommodations up to 600 guests. In addition to weddings, it is also used for corporate events, fundraisers and other large-group functions.
Since the pavilion’s installation last spring, The Abbey Resort is enjoying a strong banquet business, and guests have shared their favorable reviews of the facility. “It provides them with comfort, beauty, relaxation and access to wonderful on-site catering and service—everything they could want in an indoor/outdoor venue on the shores of the sparkling and historic Lake Geneva,” enthuses Lucero.
When Disaster Strikes …
Even with the best-laid plans, Mother Nature can wreak havoc on outdoor facilities and upend a club’s business. Such was the case at Pacific Palms Resort in City of Industry, Calif., where, after more than a decade in use, the property’s permanent pavilion tent was recently damaged due to high winds.
“It ripped and flew up into the air,” describes Director of Sales and Marketing Mark Podolski. The resort is currently using a rental tent while awaiting the arrival of a replacement.
Also a victim of a weather-related incident, Western Golf and Country Club (WGCC) in Redford, Mich., lost its banquet facilities due to a clubhouse fire last June. With the golf season in full swing and just days away from an invitational premiere event, club management was forced to act quickly.
“WGCC’s goal since the fire has been to keep the membership active and provide the same amenities that we could pre-fire, without sacrificing service,” explains Membership Director Halley Roberts.
To proceed with club operations as efficiently as possible, two tents were secured in different locations to hold various events. Afterwards, a more permanent structure was set up in front of the former clubhouse and is being used for the duration of the rebuild.
When investigating a temporary structure to house outdoor banquet facilities, insiders recommend doing your homework first. “Think thoroughly through the design and location and the potential for wind impact,” says Podolski.
Also, consider all of the elements that come with building a pavilion, from restrooms and foodservice to electricity and permits. “Most involve outside vendors that you’re relying on, so building good relationships is key,” says Roberts.