As part of a project to help boost its wedding business, VIP Country Club now offers 600, a flexible lounge suited for post-nuptial after-parties.
Late last year, VIP Country Club in New Rochelle, N.Y., took steps toward creating a wedding venue that would stand out to betrothed couples as they comb through a seemingly endless list of possibilities.
“Brides and grooms will look at one place, and then another, and another, before they get to us,” says General Manager Thomas Esposito. “At other venues, they will be told what they want. But here, we will do what they want.”
By December 15, 2017, VIP completed a $1 million renovation that touched on the bridal suites, ballrooms, and lobby areas. The main ballroom, which has room for 800 guests, features one wall made up entirely of windows, to showcase the property’s views of the Long Island Sound and gardens. Versatile rugs throughout feature a myriad of colors, and the tufted fabric walls help with acoustics. Pin-spot lighting allows centerpieces and other focal points to have the spotlight.
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VIP Country Club
One distinctive element in VIP’s wedding offer is how the club creates a restaurant setting where guests have menus to choose from, rather than pre-selecting chicken or fish on the RSVP. “Here, you’re not in a catering hall—you’re in a big restaurant,” Esposito says. “Guests arrive and are escorted to their tables, and waiters discuss the event’s dining specials and the wine and coffee lists. We really wanted to create the restaurant experience.”
In the bridal suites, a wall of mirrors allows wedding parties to ensure that every detail is perfect, with director’s chairs for makeup sessions, and credenzas and tables for pre-ceremony mimosas and snacks.
All facilities within the clubhouse are flexible according to event needs, Esposito says. “We’re very versatile—nothing’s permanent, except the rug,” he notes.
But the biggest game-changer in the project was the creation of 600, a 3,500-sq. ft. lounge that can be used for the more casual, intimate post-nuptial after-parties. “We had great demand for after-parties for weddings, so we created a lounge with a ‘Manhattan’ look to the room, with large monitors on the walls and a copper ceiling,” Esposito says.
The venue, which is on the clubhouse’s lower level and has its own separate entrance, has room for 30 to 40 guests and features checkered granite floors. An 8,000-sq. ft. patio is attached to the lounge for cigar smoking and outdoor grilling, or just to allow guests to enjoy fresh air.
For wedding after-parties, couples can design their own menus, including specialty liquor stations with scotch, bourbon and tequila tastings, as well as lager or martini stations—whatever the couple wants to offer.
“We try to stay current and offer real ‘wow’ factors in the lounge,” Esposito says. “One station is a slab of Himalayan salt heated to 600 degrees, and we place par-cooked meat on top to add flavor.”
Furniture consists of a mix of plush banquettes, high-top tables and bar seating, while backlit abstract designs adorn the walls and muted recessed lighting adds to the space’s intimate feel. White columns are placed throughout the space, with custom lighting facing up to the copper ceiling.
When not otherwise booked, the space transforms into a members-only lounge with the help of buffet tables, and has a house DJ on weekends with seasonal menus available.
“600 is definitely helping us in the sales department,” Esposito says. “Everyone who has gone down there says it’s a ‘wow’ factor. It’s increasing our wedding business, our country club business, our corporate memberships—it’s helping in all of those areas.”
The new venue has been “amazingly well-received,” Esposito adds, noting that between 600’s opening in mid-December and New Year’s Eve, four couples took a look around and “booked it on the spot.”
“We already have members asking about doing a cigar night and guys’ night,” Esposito says. “We’ve created a calendar to accommodate all the requests.”