In response to member and guest requests, more club and resort properties are introducing a new generation of kiddie zones.
Creating an inviting space for member families is hardly child’s play. These days, clubs and resorts are taking their kids’ spaces very seriously, as they upgrade their facilities to provide high-end havens for their most discriminating customers.
As more and more clubs take a closer look at their dedicated kids’ clubs, new design and renovation ideas are emerging that are helping properties make a big impact with little ones—and their dues-paying parents.
|SUMMING IT UP
A Spot for Tots
For the Bocaire Country Club in Boca Raton, Fla., creating a kids-only place for member families was the result of a marketing survey. According to CEO Russell Carlson, members of this modest-sized homeowners association requested “new social venues that didn’t necessarily involve food.” Part of that master plan included a repurposed tennis court that would house basketball and a Tot Lot.
The $10.2 million project, which began in late summer 2012 and was completed this past January, detailed a 4,500-sq. ft. aquatic center with beachfront entry and 25-meter swim lanes; a 9,000-sq. ft. natural stone deck with natural gas torches and waterfall; and a 45 x 33 Tot Lot, located several feet from the back entrance to the aquatic center.
“We hired a design team to come up with a custom configuration,” Carlson says about the children’s play space. Six slides, along with numerous tunnels and bridges for climbing and crawling, make for a well-rounded playground geared for ages 2 to 8. Overhead, a fabric canopy shields active members from the elements. “We live in a sub-tropical climate, and the shade is primarily used to protect against UV rays and heat,” he adds.
To ensure a safe play experience, the Tot Lot is gated and features a fall zone with poured-in-place flooring: a two-layer rubber-based design with a total thickness of about five inches. “The effect is a very springy and soft material,” Carlson says of this necessary component, which dramatically lessens the impact of a fall.
While the task of keeping the job moving was a challenge, the end results were right on target. “In the end, we were slightly under budget and one month late on interior work,” says Carlson. Despite some minor setbacks, the club’s new amenities have received glowing reviews and overall business has earned a major boost. “The master project has propelled both member satisfaction and revenues beyond all historical measures,” he enthuses. “Last year, we sold more homes than in any one year since at least 1987.”
Parents’ Night Out
Every mom and dad can appreciate a reprieve from the daily demands of child-rearing, so Pinnacle Country Club in Rogers, Ark., decided to take this request to heart. “We wanted to give our adult members a place to drop off their children when they came to play tennis, golf or swim,” says General Manager Pat Hennessy.
But, like any long-term relationship, Pinnacle’s Kids Korner, first established in 2008, was in need of some fine-tuning. The existing 2,500-sq. ft. space, which was fashioned out of a large merchandise storage room and part of a mechanics workshop, required a complete overhaul—but not before some obstacles were addressed.
|Wet and Wonderful
Keeping cool during the hot summer months is on the agenda of many families. Thanks to a new and improved Splash Zone, visitors to the Laguna Cliffs Marriott Resort & Spa in Dana Point, Calif., can now enjoy the ultimate refreshing experience.
Remodeled this past February, the Splash Zone is part of the Southern California resort’s original Kid’s Club, which opened in September 2009.
“We noticed that in the summer months, many of our travelers are families with children,” says Taylor Friesz, Guest Service Manager. “We wanted to design a program where children were eager and excited to explore on their own.” Kahuna Laguna Kid’s Club offers daily themed activities, and the Splash Zone was a natural extension to the extensive children’s programming.
Designed for ages 3-12, the Splash Zone was enhanced with an improved splash pad with a three-color combination, an overhead water soak bucket that dumps six gallons of water every few minutes, and alternating sprayers that delight unsuspecting young guests with a blast of water. Six new spray jets enhance surfboarding in the Splash Zone, which is protected with 1 ½-inch-thick padding.
Because the Splash Zone is directly adjacent to the resort’s pool, it makes for a memorable experience that even non-swimmers can enjoy. The official grand opening during Memorial Day weekend was well-received and a testament to continued success with visiting families. “Both children and their parents are huge fans of the Kid’s Club and all the family-friendly activities the resort has to offer,” says Friesz.
“First and foremost, our director of maintenance had to give up some of his work space,” says Hennessy. “Secondly, we had to install bathrooms, since we had no water or sewer.” Consequently, a new bathroom was designed to accommodate both adults and children, and was equipped with a child-sized toilet.
To keep young guests in age-appropriate sections, one portion of the room was enclosed for older children and outfitted with a flat-screen television, Nintendo Wii gaming system, air hockey and bumper pool game.
The remaining area houses kid-sized tables and chairs, a book nook, dress-up area and toys for younger tots. A re-carpeted entryway featuring activity boards, wall murals and kid-friendly pictures welcomes children of all ages. “We put up marketing boards to showcase the children’s artwork and crafts that they make,” adds Hennessy.
Because member safety is a paramount concern at Pinnacle, a video security system was also installed, along with safety caps on all electrical outlets. Additional exits were also part of the redesign, to ensure an orderly dismissal in the event of an emergency.
Thanks to this renovated area, members are now taking full advantage of a facility they might not have known about otherwise. “Many of our members are new to the area and do not know anyone who could babysit for them,” explains Toni Luetjen, Membership Director. “This makes it very convenient for them to have a romantic dinner in our dining area while their children are in the Kids Korner on the lower level of the clubhouse.
“The children make friends, while in turn the parents make friends with the other children’s parents,” she adds. “It’s a win-win situation.”
All Grown Up
Sometimes expansions result purely because existing accommodations get outgrown. That was the case for the Kids Club at Prestonwood Country Club in Cary, N.C., as it became increasingly popular and showed no signs of slowing down.
“Our membership experienced so much growth over the years that we discovered a need to create a space specifically for our Kids Club,” says Kristin Fowler Harris, Director of Communications. “As we were undergoing an addition to our clubhouses, we were able to use existing space for the Kids Club and have the room located in the main clubhouse, rather than in a less-centralized facility.”
To further enhance this new location, the space was outfitted with six wall-mounted flat-screen TVs with gaming consoles, as well as a projector with a wall-mounted screen. A special space was also designated for playing GaGa, a game similar to dodgeball that requires ample space.
“The entire area was designed as an open-concept space, allowing for creative and adaptive programming, as well as to encourage safety by eliminating sightline barriers for counselors,” notes Harris.
Safety considerations were also behind the installation of a Dutch door that leads to the Kids Club room. “It allows us to leave the bottom portion of the door locked, so individuals cannot enter the room without a staff member allowing entry,” says Harris. “It also ensures that children are not leaving the room without permission.”
Restrooms dedicated to the Kids Club are another means of keeping young guests safe. “Children do not have to leave the Kids Club area and potentially explore the clubhouse unsupervised,” notes Harris. Two exits also allow for faster evacuation in the event of an emergency.
Thanks to the Kids Club’s revamped digs, Prestonwood can now offer even more programming for its young members, including art classes, movie nights and seasonal events. “The larger space also allows for multiple activities to take place simultaneously, as we cater to the varying interests among the children,” Harris adds.
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