percent of surveyed clubs said that existing fitness facilities don’t meet current demand
percent in same survey said that existing spa facilities and programs are inadequate
Number of indoor water parks opened in last four years, a 288 percent increase. Another 99 are being planned.
Ice slides in Orlando; winter water parks in Columbus, Ohio; and spa and fitness centers now on virtually every property with running water, it seems. Clubs and resorts sure have come a long way in a hurry from the days when “recreation and fitness” for members and guests might only mean a stroll from the clubhouse to the parking lot. Many properties now seek to distinguish themselves with exciting new specialties. Some, like Saddle Creek Resort (see case study, pg. 29), strive to provide just about all conceivable activities in one spot. At the same time a vast new variety of activities and programs is being rolled out, tennis and aquatics, the “old standby” alternatives to golf, are also enjoying a revival—being especially good fits with the drive for more across-the-family appeal. An update on some of the more interesting developments from a very active (pun intended) year:
Inverness Country Club in Birmingham, Ala.— cited in last year’s State of the Industry Report (C&RB, December 2005, pg. 16) for its innovative approach to a $50 million renovation that was funded without member assessments, through a combination clubhouse/luxury condominium project—reports that membership sales have been at “record levels” throughout 2006. A cornerstone of the club’s success has been its “FamilyFirst” program that offers Sports Camps, Mystery Theaters, Holiday and Pool Parties and “policies geared toward a total quality family experience for our members,” according to Owner Bill Ochsenhirt.
Wet and Wild
“The ordinary hotel swimming pool is becoming a thing of the past,” an industry consultant said in a USA?Today article that declared indoor water parks to be “the latest recreation craze sweeping the U.S.” The parks are “attracting families to expensive hotel suites for weekend vacations in cold-weather climates,” it was reported. Approximately 36,000 hotel rooms will be connected to indoor water parks next year, compared to 8,500 in 2002.
The parks fit well with a change in Americans’ vacation habits, it was noted, with families now taking more brief vacations, especially two- or three-day getaways planned on short notice, in addition to a big summer vacation.
The article cited Silver Mountain Ski Resort in Kellogg, Idaho, for its plan to open a water park next summer and become the first Western resort to feature the amenity. And indoor parks are also being developed in Florida and Arizona, as alternative attractions for when those areas get too hot even for outdoor cool-offs.
Driven to Succeed<br>Called “an industry that is only beginning to find its legs,” an AutoWeek article described “country clubs for car people” that are popping up around the country to appeal to buffs who can’t afford, or don’t want, to own their own Lamborghinis or Aston Martins, but still want to experience the thrill of driving classic and exotic cars on a regular basis.
The first such club, Club Sportiva, opened in San Francisco in 2003; now there are similar clubs in Manhattan, Phoenix and Chicago. In all cases, for annual fees that range from $2,000 to nearly $30,000, members get varied levels of “car sharing” rights that allow them to drive a car of their dreams for periods of up to a month.
All of these operations go far beyond rental agencies that offer high-end cars. They emphasize that they are “clubs” and discourage the practice of delivering cars to members’ homes. Instead, members are encouraged to come to facilities that are “the community centerpiece of membership.”
Club Sportiva, for example, has a 14,000-sq.-ft. “paddock” in downtown San Francisco that includes a second-floor lounge with Wi-Fi, fine art and an extensive automotive library. Classic Car Club in Manhattan, meanwhile, allows 24-hour access to its club room with an open bar, and is also available to members for parties.
The Manhattan club is part of a British-based company that grew to four franchises in England and now plans to open as many as eight U.S. locations by mid-2007, including Atlanta, Miami, San Francisco, and Austin, Texas.
The Gaylord Palms Resort in Orlando is now in its fourth year of hosting its popular holiday celebration, which features a massive display of ice sculptures carved by Chinese artisans, including a train and depot that visitors can climb on. The indoor display area is kept at nine degrees and includes an ice slide for kids of all ages who are smart enough not to wear shorts.
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