Clubs are getting ready for the new season with patios that promise to keep members outside and entertained.
Over the last two years, outdoors became the place to be. With more members continuing to spend the bulk of their leisure time outside, clubs are heeding the siren call of expanded al fresco amenities. From fresh-air facilities within a stone’s throw of indoor fitness centers, to expanded decks that accommodate dining overflow, patio designs are reenergizing the outdoor scene for the long haul.
The Sum of Its Parts
At Bay Harbor (Mich.) Yacht Club, members have more of an excuse to linger longer and take in the spectacular lakeside views. Last June, the club unveiled a large-scale renovation that included an expanded Quarter Deck and Gazebo Bar, along with a covered terrace for outdoor dining. The results have helped to transform the facility into a place that maximizes its seasonal business.
“There is great interest to be outdoors at the club; northern Michigan summer weather is perfect,” says General Manager Kathleen Muneio.
Boasting 9,000 sq. ft., Bay Harbor’s outdoor amenities are located on the same level as its wellness, spa and aquatics facilities, making the perfect segue from indoor recreation to fresh-air dining and socializing. As a result of the new design, accommodations increased from 120 to 180, with an additional 50 seats in the Grille Room and 42 in the bar. A mix of soft seating and umbrella tables, and chairs in soft ivory and grey tones, blend well with the exposed-aggregate flooring and surrounding stonework. A plush seating area for up to 12, complete with three firepits, is a cozy spot for taking off the Michigan chill.
To protect the patio from the elements, Eisenglass is hidden in the backside of the stone archways and helps to extend its usage by eight to 10 weeks. To maintain the patio, furnishings and floorings are cleaned on a regular basis, seating areas are power-washed and anti-bacterial cleaners are applied to reduce algae and weed growth.
Since the renovation, the club has seen a 30-percent increase in overall revenues due to continued interest in outdoor amenities. With an eye toward the coming season, Muneio is confident that the Quarter Deck will once again be wholly embraced.
“Members have enjoyed the larger space, soft seating with added firepits … and overall look and feel,” she adds.
As the saying goes, there’s a first time for everything, and at the El Paso (Texas) Country Club, that means a brand-new outdoor patio that has given members a permanent spot to enjoy a meal outdoors.
“There was no outside dining, and as the years went by, more members asked for outside F&B services,” explains General Manager/COO Andy Khatimi, CCM.
Following a formal vote to fund a strategic capital plan, the club kicked off the first phase of a 24,000-sq.-ft. family center, pool improvements and outdoor patio, the latter of which opened in May 2020.
Located on the south side between the club’s Building A and golf practice facility, the 6,000-sq.-ft. patio looks out onto a lush setting of cottonwood trees, a lake and fountain. One side is adjacent to the pro shop, while the other is just off the family center, making the patio easily accessible to fitness facilities and the men’s and ladies’ locker rooms. The space is anchored by two red brick trellises, accented by a brown slotted roof for maximum air flow and light brown decorative concrete flooring. Decorative lighting adorns the trellises, while swing lighting extends from the family center to provide further illumination. Attached misters provide cooling on sultry days, while standing heaters are on the ready when the temperature drops.
With accommodations for 220 members, the patio is outfitted with two-, four- and six-top tables that can be expanded as needed. “I have done an Easter buffet with 350 settings and also an outside catering event with 400 guests,” says Khatimi.
American-made, heavy wood furniture commands a solid presence, while two fire pits—one with seating for 12, the other for eight—provide extra room for guests. Socializing can carry over to the outdoor bar on the west side, where members can sit atop one of the 18 stools in a private setting with roll-down shades and shutters.
To maintain the well-used space, the patio is power washed weekly and swept daily, and all tables and chairs wiped down. At the height of the pandemic, right after the patio had opened, the space served as a welcome respite for members and has continued to be a popular spot for golfers and diners alike.
According to Khatimi, the patio has boosted F&B a la carte sales by 75 percent. “It is packed for dinners and we have a hard time kicking members out of the bar at 2 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays,” he says, adding that the patio has become a great tool in recruiting prospective members.
Additional revenues are generated by weekly events and larger gatherings, including wedding reception cocktail hours.
Looking ahead, Khatimi expects to resurface the patio’s concrete to give it a fresh look in the coming year. Little touches like replacing patio lightbulbs and cleaning firepit nozzles help to ensure that El Paso Country Club’s patio is a member mainstay.
Enhancing the outdoor space just off its casual dining eatery, Gaston Country Club in Gastonia, N.C. is getting ready to usher in the new season with an expanded patio. This update, which began in January 2021 and due to open this spring, will include an expanded covered area that will offer members a greater venue for outdoor entertainment.
Situated on the southeastern side of the clubhouse and attached to the club’s Maples Grill dining room, the former 988-sq.-ft. uncovered patio now boasts a 656-sq.-ft. covered section. An extra 342 sq. ft. was added to the design, bumping up the total footprint to 1,330 sq. ft.
“We also increased the existing side porch overhang to provide additional covered space from the elements,” says Facilities Manager Eric Glidden. Other changes include an ADA handicap ramp, as well as the relocation of the staircase to the putting green and a relocated cart path—now further from the patio.
The patio itself features white brick columns with black steel handrails, stained concentrate flooring in a saw-cut pattern and a stained wood ceiling outfitted with four ceiling fans. Wall sconces, LED recessed lights and low-voltage lighting on the staircase and columns help to illuminate the setting, which is laid out with a mix of tables and chairs, high-top tables and umbrellas with seating for 60. Two TVs and outdoor speakers provide entertainment for guests, while eight radiant gas heaters help to elongate their stay on cooler evenings.
Gaston’s patio project was not without its fair share of challenges that pushed back the initial rollout date. According to Glidden, during the expected installation of an ADA ramp, the plan to remove the existing concrete deck and rebuild by using the current structure was thwarted. “It was discovered the existing structure was inadequate and structural changes would need to be made,” he explains of the setback.
Construction was further hampered by the longer lead time for steel, concrete and other materials that would not become available until this past winter. “The project came to a standstill until the asphalt plants reopened to finish the cart path [in order] to be ADA-compliant,” he adds.
Now in its final stages, the club is eagerly awaiting opening day. New large planters will be positioned on the deck, and additional landscaping in the surrounding area will be installed upon completion of the cart path.
Open for Business
Creating a freeform style for its existing outdoor space was the goal of a recent renovation at the Royal Fox Country Club in St. Charles, Ill. Unveiled to members just prior to the start of the pandemic, the new 3,500-sq.-ft. patio replaces a smaller area with an open-
concept design that now has ample space for more guests.
“The updated patio has given us a large seating capacity, which will attract people to host private events,” says Nancy Buttacavoli, Director, Food, Beverage & Events.
Centrally located, the patio is easily accessible to club facilities, including the men’s bar and pro shop. A seamless design features stone flooring, patio lighting, tables and chairs in a brighter color palette, and two large fire pits. With room to seat 75 guests, accommodations can be made for up to 150 standing room-style for bigger gatherings.
Summing It Up
> Providing more patio space is beneficial for business, especially over the last two years.
> Easy access to indoor facilities and the golf course makes the patio a popular spot for all members.
> The addition of heaters and fire pits extends the patio’s usefulness into shoulder seasons.