The new Wellness Center at Walnut Cove reflects the latest thinking from The Cliffs’ ongoing focus on fitness as in integral part of club and community life.
Like many other leading figures in the industry, Jim Anthony, Founder and President of The Cliffs Communities, has been asked this year to assess the health of the golf and club business in the face of the recession. In October, a reporter from the Asheville (N.C.) Citizen-Times noted that several golf projects in the Western Carolinas, where The Cliffs now has eight master-planned communities, had been put on hold or threatened with foreclosure, and asked Anthony if The Cliffs was also threatened by this trend.
Club Name & Location:
Wellness Center Opened: 2009
Size: 18,000 sq. ft.
Features: Indoor floor-to-ceiling fireplaces; lounge/waiting areas; juice bar; rooms for group classes; workout areas with exercise equipment and a cardio-theater; men’s and ladies’ locker rooms; massage rooms; 25-yard indoor 2-lane lap pool; outside junior Olympic swimming pool; hot tub; sauna; 4 Har-Tru tennis courts (opening April 2010)
Staff: Wellness Center Manager (Nikki Griffin, CPT); 3 full-time
trainers; 4 part-time fitness
attendants; 6 contract massage therapists; 2 contract group
Hours of Operation: Mon.-Fri.,
6 AM-8 PM; Sat.-Sun., 8 AM-6 PM
“We’ve been selling a site just about every other day, and have over 250 [property] tours booked over the next 90 days,” Anthony replied. But for even better proof of how The Cliffs is in good shape to fight the trends, he could have just pointed the reporter towards the new Wellness Center at The Cliffs at Walnut Cove, which opened this spring in Arden, N.C. (southeast of Asheville).
The new Wellness Center stands as the latest example of how The Cliffs continues to evolve a well-rounded, lifestyle-based club offer for the more than 3,000 people who now own a Cliffs Community property. (Private club membership is offered exclusively to property owners in one of three categories: Golf, Family and Wellness. Those who join have privileges at all eight clubs, no matter where they own.)
The Wellness Center’s name provides the first clue to how fitness—and club life—have grown to be something much bigger at The Cliffs. And once you see and tour the new stand-alone, 18,000-sq. ft. facility—located at a different end of the property from the impressive clubhouse facilities that go with Walnut Cove’s Jack Nicklaus Signature golf course—the full extent of that development becomes apparent.
The new Wellness Center includes a four-lane outdoor pool and two-lane, heated indoor lap pool that are both junior-Olympic length. It also has aerobics and fitness rooms with a full assortment of the latest training equipment—but that are still spacious enough to ensure they won’t become the site of vicious elbow-to-elbow and knee-to-knee combat among exercisers, even during peak use.
The Center also features a spa treatment center adjacent to its full locker room facilities for men and women, an an inviting lounge/meeting area with floor-to-ceiling fireplaces, and a juice bar across from the reception area.
|The new Wellness Center (left) is at a different end of the property from the impressive clubhouse facilities (right) that opened in 2006 for members to use along with Walnut Cove’s Jack Nicklaus Signature golf course.|
More Than Talk
These last features, though, aren’t just added touches created for the pre-, post- or non-exercise comfort of Center users. They’re also integral to how the facility has been designed to support one of The Cliffs’ overriding goals: offering all members “a comprehensive wellness program [that] focuses on mind, body and spirit [and] is supported by preventative medical education, customized individual instruction, wellness coaching and nutritional programs.”
To that end, the lounge and meeting areas are used to hold regular “fireside chats” for members on topics relating to exercise, nutrition and lifestyle choices. The sessions are led by Vance Ferrigno, Director of Wellness Programming, and other staff members of the Wellness Department that supports all of The Cliffs clubs and communities.
The juice bar, meanwhile, features snacks, smoothies and drinks with caloric and carb/protein content blessed by Katherine Spinks, The Cliffs’
Registered Dietician. (Spinks also works with food and beverage directors and chefs for all Cliffs communities to create “Wellness Selections” that are featured on the various clubs’ menus—for examples, see menus here)
|The Wellness Center’s juice bar features snacks, smoothies and drinks with caloric and carb/protein content that has been blessed by The Cliffs’ Registered Dietician.|
In these and many other ways, the new Wellness Center features the latest thinking and concepts that have evolved in the 20 years since Jim Anthony created the first Cliffs community, on South Carolina’s Glassy Mountain. Each community has had some form of fitness/wellness facility from its start—and each new one that’s been established has represented the next stage in how the company continues to evolve the concept of “comprehensive wellness.”
“Our goal is to make The Cliffs the healthiest place to live, work and play in America,” says Ferrigno. “As part of that, we want to help members improve their lives outside the gym, be it through a better golf game, or doing whatever it is in life that brings them fulfillment.”
Standing Up to the Tests
As one of the newer Cliffs communities (the Nicklaus course opened in 2005 and clubhouse facilities in 2006), Walnut Cove still has room to grow, with 48 full-time residents and 92 part-time residents owning property within its gates as of this November.
But after the new facility opened this spring, reports Wellness Center Manager Nikki Griffin, it didn’t take long to learn how it would appeal to—and accommodate–—not only existing Walnut Cove members, but many from the other Cliffs communities as well.
“We had days in the summer where we had 100-plus people,” says Griffin, who reports to both Ferrigno and Walnut Cove’s General Manager, Ryan McCurdy. “But while we felt busy, we never felt overwhelmed.
Equipment & Programs at the Wellness Center at Walnut Cove
“The flow of the facility is really good,” she adds. “As a trainer, I love the openness and how we have room to work with our clients without invading others’ workout space. Also, they designed a separate, walk-through equipment storage area, in between our aerobics and functional training rooms, that really cuts down on people walking through groups or lessons to get things they need.”
Having so much gathered under one roof in such a manageable fashion has also helped Griffin and her staff come up with some inventive new activities for Wellness Center users, such as a “splash, spin and sprint” indoor triathlon competition (15 minutes each of swimming, riding stationary bikes, and running on a treadmill) that was held this fall
Griffin has also seen quite a few representatives of another group come through the new Wellness Center. “We give tours [to prospective Cliffs property owners] on just about a daily basis,” she says. “Wellness is at the top of the list of what they are looking for—right up there with golf and maybe even higher now, in fact. So we’ve definitely become an important extension of [The Cliffs’ overall] sales and marketing efforts.”
A dedicated Wellness Marketing Manager, Jen Smith-Nicholson, helps to augment these efforts, and Griffin feels the existence of such a position, and the focus it reflects, makes perfect sense.
“Wellness has always been a passion of Mr. Anthony,” she says, “and a key to what [The Cliffs] is all about.”