Revitalized dining venues and other clubhouse amenities at the Watertown, Mass. club has boosted facility-wide usage, proving a boon to membership and management.
Much like a kitchen is to the home, the clubhouse is the heart of a private facility—the place where members come to socialize, break bread and take advantage of all their club has to offer. At Oakley Country Club in Watertown, Mass., an increasingly active membership prompted the need for more space in its central hub.
“The clubhouse was outdated and showing signs of wear since its last renovation in 1997,” says John Bartley, the club’s President, who served on the Building Committee during the renovation.
After the club commissioned Studio JBD/Jefferson Group Architecture to conduct a series of member focus groups, management was able to best assess how to meet their expectations. With a resounding approval rate at more than 90 percent, Oakley’s membership was ready to embark on the $8.8 million clubhouse renovation, which was completed in May 2019.
Room to Dine
Making a grand entrance into the 40,413-sq. ft. clubhouse is now possible, courtesy of a majestic staircase leading from the members’ entrance up to the second floor (see photo above). Bartley credits this enhancement for creating a ‘wow’ factor for members and their guests.
Once inside, they are greeted by a variety of revamped dining spaces. In the member dining room, which boasts 78 seats, the space was enlarged, along with a new bar and deck that fills previously underutilized space. Muted tones, sleek wood and a mix of wall sconces and pendant lighting create a contemporary vibe.
“The modern décor substantially changed the look and feel of the interior, transforming it into a higher-end restaurant,” says Bartley. “Having an adult-only dining area with varied seating was a game changer.”
Oakley’s adults aren’t the only ones benefitting from revitalized dining. The family dining room—which seats 76 guests—also experienced a major transformation, with comfortable booths running along the exterior walls. The installation of wine lockers serves to separate this space from the club’s library, providing what Bartley describes as “an interesting visual and promotion of our enhanced wine program, as well as a convenient storage space.”
A more intimate private dining room accommodates up to 20 members, while larger parties can take advantage of the pub and both main-level and upper-deck seating. Sweeping views of Boston’s skyline offer a picturesque backdrop, no matter the occasion.
“The space is bright and open, and the new bar gives a feel of a nice restaurant, without the pretentiousness,” Bartley says.
Prior to the disruption caused by the coronavirus outbreak, Oakley’s dining scene was a vibrant, well-populated place to be, helping to instill a greater sense of pride among membership. In addition to the comprehensive dining renovations and the introduction of a new executive chef, overall food-and-beverage sales saw a notable boost. “Members exceeded their monthly minimums, many bringing guests for the first time,” Bartley says.
The pandemic also stymied the promise of a renovated ballroom that can host up to 222 guests and boasts pre-function space, as well as a separate bridal room that offers even greater potential for the club’s wedding business. Once Oakley is able to resume full operations, management expects demand for catered bookings, weddings and other events to show the same payoffs from the renovation as was seen pre-pandemic for a la carte dining.
Fit and Fun
Along with a resurgence in dining and event facilities, Oakley members are also experiencing improved leisure and fitness accommodations. Using a member corridor, visitors can go directly from an entirely renovated pool complex—complete with swimming pool, kiddie splash pad and expanded deck space—to revamped locker rooms. Both the men’s and women’s locker rooms received fresh coats of paint and new carpeting, along with additional space for locker boxes (312 for men and 77 for women). A more extensive renovation of the locker room wet areas is on tap for Phase 2 of the club’s improvement plan.
In the 1,292-sq. ft. fitness center, new workout equipment added to the lower level has resulted in a surge in gym usage. “The space is a terrific visual selling point with prospective members during site visits,” Bartley says. Additionally, strong member usage of a golf simulator prompted the club to make room for a second simulator on the lower level, and both simulators saw consistent through the winter before they were also brought to a halt with the onset of COVID-19.
Undeterred by these temporary setbacks, though, Oakley’s members have embraced the renovation with open arms. “Members were simply blown away,” Bartley says of the initial and immediate response to the new look. “The new decks and dining spaces utilizing the spectacular views of Boston were also a complete success. We have only received positive feedback from members, along with envious comments from our sister-club guests.”
Oakley Country Club
Project: Updated clubhouse, including member, family and private dining facilities; pool complex and fitness center
Architect: Jefferson Group Architecture (JGA), Pawtucket, R.I.
Interior design: Studio JBD (JBD), Pawtucket, R.I.
Booth Wall Sconces/Pendants: Hinkley
Booth Seating: Harmony Contract Furniture
Table Tops: Old Dominion Furniture Co.
Flush Mounts: Scott Lamp
Bar Wall Sconces/Picture Lights: Visual Comfort
Seating (dining room): GAR
Carpeting (locker rooms): Couristan
Paint (locker rooms): Benjamin Moore