As guests and members extend their visits, facilities put out the welcome mat with lodging amenities that offer a true home-away-from-home feel.
Dorothy may have said, “There’s no place like home,” but many clubs and resorts across the country are begging to differ. By providing comfortable accommodations that mimic a cozy, home-away-from home, they are able to better meet the demand for overnight stays. Be it a family vacation destination, an out-of-town wedding or a place to spend the night after a golf tournament, improved lodging facilities are the place to be.
To help establish a greater following, the Golf Club at Briar’s Creek in Johns Island, S.C., added three cottages to its property in March 2020.
“Our owner, the late Bob McNair, always felt Briar’s could—and should—have a strong national membership,” says General Manager Clint F. Wood, CCM, CCE. “With that belief, the cottages were a necessity. They’re really our ‘hub’ for golf here at Briar’s Creek.”
Conveniently located next to the driving range, the Robert C. McNair Performance Center and The Lodge, which houses the pro shop, each of the 1,200-sq. ft. cottages provides easy access to club facilities. Rooms are outfitted with four beds, four baths and an open kitchen/living room area. Two of the cottages are connected by a ‘dog trot’ porch with space for eating and socializing, two grills, a television and a fireplace.
Wood describes their style as a coastal feel that is prevalent in the Lowcountry, with light hardwoods, dark cabinetry and white shiplap.
“We didn’t want to call them Cottage 1, 2 and 3, so we named each one after a local seabird: Heron, Osprey and Ibis,” he says. Each outlet contains a significant piece of art dedicated to the featured bird.
To further enhance the cottages’ outdoor setting, the club had initially planned a lighted putting green, but decided instead to increase the footprint and build a nine-hole putting course that is illuminated nightly.
“We named the course ‘Churchill,’ after Bob MacNair’s affection for Winston Churchill, Churchill cigars and his desire to own a horse that won the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs,” Wood explains.
Briar Creek’s cottages opened during the pandemic, and the club immediately put enhanced cleaning practices into practice. Wood has been pleasantly surprised by their regular use, particularly over the last 18 months.
“The cottages have made it easier for our national members to use the club and provide a unique opportunity for all of our members to be here on the property without ever having to leave,” he says.
Play and Stay
When LochenHeath Golf Club in Willamsburg, Mich., began its transition to a private facility, providing a place for national members to stay on site was part of the model.
“We felt as we built the membership, we would allow outside play to stay in the cottages, but it must be part of a golf package,” explains General Manager Kevin O’Brien, PGA. “This would also work as a sales tool as guests were able to experience all that LochenHeath had to offer, with its award-winning golf course, great culinary experience and the cottages.”In July 2019, the club unveiled two new 2,400-sq. ft. cottages within 30 yards of the member pavilion (otherwise known as the second clubhouse). The layout includes four en suites—each with two queen beds, private bathroom and large television—along with a common living area, gas fireplace and designer kitchen with custom cabinetry. A separate half bath was added to the design to accommodate visitors.
Described as “modern elegant comfort,” the cottages are outfitted in a contemporary style. “These are not your rustic guy’s cottages,” says O’Brien. Varying shades of gray and charcoal create a cozy vibe and help to soften the hardwood floors throughout the space.
The kitchen contains standard appliances, minus an oven, encouraging guests to venture out to clubhouse dining facilities. Two of the bedrooms can serve as lockouts, a plus for parties of different sizes. Outside, guests can partake of the screened-in deck overlooking East Grand Traverse Bay—and in the colder months, the outdoor fireplace.
“The unit is very spacious, allowing golfers from other cottages to gather and join the festivities,” adds O’Brien.
To maintain the cottages’ upkeep, the club employs a professional cleaning company for regular housekeeping and sanitizing. Following the club’s move to private ownership last year, usage of the new lodging facilities has been steady, with repeat guests serving as testaments to its success.
O’Brien recalls a party of four from Indiana that stayed at the club in May of 2021 and played a round of golf. “On the way home, one of the gentlemen called me and said he would like to join, then two days later a second gentleman joined and 10 days later, a third gentleman joined,” he says. “Each of them has since been up three times and stayed in the cottages, and they have reserved one cottage for the 2022 Men’s Invitational.”
A Breath of Fresh Air
When it came time to create the Huntington Lodge at Pronghorn Resort in Bend, Ore., the traditional alpine lodge design was abandoned in favor of a more contemporary, high-end facility that meshes well with the existing rooms.
“This allows the opportunity to provide luxury and more capacity in terms of accommodations for our corporate and social groups,” says Sales and Marketing Manager Rebecca Zook. The new facilities, made up of 104 guest rooms and suites, opened their doors in April 2019.
Nestled within the confines of the 640-acre property, Huntington Lodge sits adjacent to the 18th hole of the resort’s Tom Fazio-designed golf course, against a backdrop of lush juniper groves and the Cascade Mountain Range.
“It is situated at the heart of the resort and within short walking distances to the dining outlets, golf shop, driving range, courses, indoor and outdoor venues and other townhouse-style accommodations,” notes Zook.
Nature plays an influential role in the room design, informing the choices of natural tones and organic wood furnishings that mimic neighboring forests and mountains.
While the lines between the outdoors and indoors are blurred, courtesy of private terraces and massive glass windows, guests can also immerse themselves in luxe, in-room amenities such as fireplaces, full kitchens and en suite master bathrooms. Connected living rooms provide ample space for guests to unwind, while the availability of two-bedroom suites affords additional space for larger groups.
Following Pronghorn Resort’s already-established maintenance protocols, the lodge’s rooms are deep-cleaned daily, frequently touched surfaces are sanitized, and windows are opened for increased ventilation. Even as the club and resort industry continues to contend with the fallout from COVID, Zook notes the profound effect Huntington Lodge has had on the greater community.
“With the Lodge being situated near Bend yet outside of city limits, it provided the perfect place for guests to get away from the big cities and into the wide-open spaces of the desert that provided much-needed fresh air and space for social distancing,” she says.
“The Huntington Lodge has been an integral part of taking the resort from a golf-centric brand to becoming known as the premier resort destination in Central Oregon, providing much more than award-winning golf by way of experiences that include a wellness focus, as well as a focus on the outdoor playground of Central Oregon,” she adds.
To meet increased demand for guest accommodations while providing the same level of luxury for which the property is known, the Ritz-Carlton Reynolds Lake Oconee in Greensboro, Ga., recently renovated its existing guest rooms and suites, along with a private guest residence. With nearly two decades in operation, the facility is primed to attract even more business with its improved accommodations.
“With a milestone 20th anniversary on the horizon, the resort’s new chapter will reflect an elevated lake-life experience to create lasting memories for families, couples and locals alike,” says Communications Manager Kaitlin Crawford.
Designed with an eye toward comfortable living, the redesigned guest rooms, awash in a softened color palette, are a nod to its natural surroundings. Wood and wicker furnishings evoke the Georgia pines and lakefront docks, and guest bathrooms feature wood sliding doors, stone floors, pebbled accent tiles and wooden vanities. Executive-suite bathrooms take things up a notch with plantation-style shutters and wooden-ladder towel holders.
A star attraction of the resort’s accommodations is the Lake House—a 5,404-sq. ft., three-story, four-bedroom entity with private back yard and porches on all levels. Inside, the style mirrors the nature-inspired color palette and is accented by more than 140 pieces of artwork and photography reflecting the great outdoors.
“Hues of Iron Ore and Creamy White dictate the majority of the living spaces, while crisp, clean lines within the home mimic the horizon on the water’s edge and original pine floors are found throughout,” says Crawford.
A lower-level great room, designed for entertainment, opens out onto a lakefront patio and porch, with wicker and plush seating options that allow guests to bask in tranquility.
With lodging offerings that spare no expense, bookings for Oconee’s facilities have remained steady since their reopening in the summer of 2020.
“The updated lodging spaces, along with the reinvigorated resort experiences, have further positioned the resort as the place to be in Lake Oconee,” says Crawford.
Summing It Up
> Lodging enables clubs to boost national membership appeal.
> Exterior surroundings can serve as inspiration for interior décor and design.
> Centrally located lodging fosters easy access to primary facilities, including golf, dining and fitness.