Playground and splash areas are effective and exciting amenities that encourage families to spend a whole day at the club.
Clubs around the country are looking for ways to make their facilities both child-friendly and widely used. Many properties have added playgrounds and splash areas to further attract families to the club.
|SUMMING IT UP
To get the biggest boost, playgrounds and splash areas must be designed with both kids and adults in mind. Playgrounds can be as simple or as complex as a property wants, with the cost ranging from $15,000-$100,000, depending on the equipment and accessories. Designing a successful playground or splash area begins with choosing a convenient location on the grounds. Equally as important, these areas should have equipment that appeals to a wide age range, while also providing a comfortable gathering area for parents to supervise and socialize.
“It helps when a club can offer entertainment for the entire family, especially the children. When the children are happy, the parents are happy,” says Kyla Jones, Director of Membership and Marketing at Paramount Country Club in New City, N.Y.
With more than 250 active children (under 18), Paramount CC is always looking for ways to cater to families. Not surprisingly, the club’s large playground area is a popular attraction. “We are a family-friendly club and we welcome children; the playground is an added feature that allows the children to enjoy the club, too,” says Jones. “There aren’t many kids who see a playground and don’t want to play. The playground makes it very clear to prospective members that we welcome kids.”
Building a playground close to other family-friendly recreation areas just makes sense. Visible playgrounds help clubs brand themselves as family-friendly, too. Of course, these areas can get very loud and busy, so they should be far enough away from areas where adults go to relax, such as fine dining venues or spas.
The playground at Paramount CC is conveniently located next to the club’s miniature golf course and its garden lawn. It is also in close proximity to the swimming pool and the club’s new casual dining bistro, a hot spot for families. The playground rounds out this area by adding another option for families who are spending the entire day enjoying the club. “It’s not a hassle to get to the playground,” says Jones.
The playground boasts a large jungle gym to climb, multi-colored swings, a seesaw, a bright yellow enclosed slide, and a mini-rock climbing wall. The ground is covered in woodchips, which provides a comfortable and safe space for kids to jump, run and play. The large grassy area surrounding the playground offers members and guests additional open play space.
The colorful equipment, in red, yellow, green and blue, helps the playground stand out as a distinctive kids’ spot on the otherwise stately grounds. “The playground is quite separate from the clubhouse, so it doesn’t have to blend in,” says Jones. “It’s actually a contrast to our buildings with its brightly colored canopies, but that helps attract the children.”
To make the playground comfortable for adults as well, a number of trees surround the area and create plenty of shade on hot summer days, while Adirondack chairs provide a place to relax and socialize with other parents as they supervise their kids at play.
An Added Perk
The goal for the Aquatic Center at the Country Club of Roswell (Ga.) was to create a first-class pool facility. In addition to water slides, a diving pool, a kids’ pool and a junior Olympic pool with zero entry, the club also added a gated playground to the complex.
“The club’s management felt this addition would certainly add member satisfaction to the area,” says Matt Grayson, Athletic Director/Tennis Director. “The club markets itself as a family-friendly club that welcomes children, and this fits right in with that membership plan.”
The Aquatic Center was the perfect space for the playground, because it was already the hub of family activity at the club. The location allows children to play during adult swim times, and at swim meets between heats.
Play it Safe
To keep playgrounds and splash areas safe and comfortable, it’s important to take precautions.
At the same time, being so close to the pool could pose some safety concerns. The club addressed these issues by erecting a lockable fence to separate the playground from the pool deck. The fence ensures that young children cannot get onto the pool deck from the playground without a parent’s assistance. Additionally, there is no pool deck furniture directly in the play area, so kids can run around the space freely without tripping over furniture. Clear sight lines from the pool deck to the playground allow parents to sit comfortably in the chairs and recliners on the pool deck. while still supervising their kids’ play.
In choosing the equipment for the playground, the club wanted to appeal to everyone who wanted to play. “We have a lot of smaller children around the club, so we wanted to make sure the playground was friendly to them, but not boring to the older kids as well,” says Grayson. The result? A multilevel structure with a spiral slide, climbing rails, a suspension bridge and a clubhouse section, along with rubberized mulch to ensure safe play.
The playground is an added perk that complements the Aquatic Center and further attracts children and families to the club. “Most of our members have two or three kids under the age of 10, so family-friendly areas are vital to getting them to come out and use the club’s overall facilities,” says Grayson. “Without this setup, tennis, golf and swim would suffer.”
Make a Splash
With pool complexes often the top draw for families, many properties are adding splash areas to give families and kids even more options for enjoying summer days at the club. When committee members and the club management team at Lochland Country Club, in Hastings, Neb., began designing their new pool facility, they visited many locations around the state. to identify which features would be important to include. As they got into this research, they quickly realized that a splash area would attract members of all ages.
“With a wide range in our membership’s demographics, we wanted to make sure the pool was satisfying to all ages,” says Scott A. Shardelow, General Manager.
Lochland’s facility was designed with several different swimming areas: a separate zero-entry baby pool with “lemon drop” water sprinklers; a main pool with four official-length swimming lanes; a shallow end for water volleyball and basketball; a deep end with a diving board and water slide; and a zero-entry splash facility. The splash area is lined with bubble features and has three large sprinklers with ropes that the children can pull to release water, along with two water spray guns and an oversized frog water slide.
The club knew it needed to purchase water features that were durable, to withstand years of play. To choose the right equipment, management surveyed kids, pool builders and onsite visitors. The splash area was also strategically located at the south side of the property, overlooking the golf course.
“The area allows members to view the breathtaking beauty of the course, while spending quality time with their families,” says Shardelow. “One of our goals [with the pool facility] was to allow for golfers to view the facility, and at the same time for our swimmers to view the golfers. We wanted to be proud of our facility and make it very visible for all areas of the club.”
To make sure adults enjoy the area as much as the kids, there are poolside couches, high-top tables, patio tables, loungers and a fire pit. Oversized umbrellas stand 13-feet-by-13-feet and shade nearly 60 percent of the entire deck area. The landscaping committee also added planters to the area, allowing the club to create a fresh herb and vegetable garden just to the west of the pool.
“Our flowers, fresh herbs and vegetables are great to use in the clubhouse, and have been very well-liked among our membership,” says Shardelow.
By adding family-friendly features such as the splash area to the pool complex, guest usage has tripled in recent years at Lochland.
“Members feel that they have more value for their dues dollars,” says Shardelow. “And it has opened our eyes to adding more amenities. We feel [that makes] our members come out to the club more and bring more guests to see the club, because it’s a place that they are proud of.”
Hit the Floor
Providing a safe surface to play on is critical when designing a playground. Here are considerations to weigh for three of the most popular surfaces: