Clubs get into the swim of things by updating pool facilities, just in time for peak season.
Come on in, the water’s fine.
After an unseasonably mild spring and the promise of warmer weather ahead, clubs are getting a jumpstart on pool re-openings and refreshed surroundings that beautify these spaces. Sustaining the post-pandemic frenzy, this well-frequented amenity remains a popular spot where members of all ages and abilities come to congregate on a hot, sunny day.
As clubs look to appeal to younger members and families, the allure of water recreation, poolside dining and social outings is necessitating enhanced accommodations that bring members together and, in some cases, enable clubs to extend their season beyond Labor Day.
A Defining Moment, Fulfilled
Engaging and retaining new and younger members has been the focus at Lancaster (Pa.) Country Club, particularly over the last three years, during which the club unveiled the ‘LCC: A Defining Moment’ improvement plan. As part of this initiative, the property has been updated with a 24,000 sq.-ft. activities pavilion—including an 8,800 sq.-ft. aquatics and pool facility—that has become the go-to place for its membership.
General Manager/COO Ryan Granruth, CCM, CCE describes it as an “ample and better-suited location for our members [that enables LCC to take] full advantage of additional space on our property.” The pool opened in July 2021 and wrapped its first fully operational season last summer.
Built directly adjacent to the clubhouse, LCC’s pool complex is approximately one-third larger than the original footprint. The pool itself has been outfitted with enhancements aplenty, including a fountain and splash pad. The zero-entry design accommodates 14-inch water chaise lounges and an in-water bench. For landlubbers, a tiered viewing terrace overlooking the competition pool provides dryland accommodations.
Dining poolside is made possible via the Sunset Café, which replaces a small snack bar and limited menu. Now members can remain in their chairs for poolside food and beverage services. Orders are taken and delivered by club staff, equipped with iPads. The pool kitchen is a dedicated full-service facility that now offers lobster rolls, spicy tuna tartare, artisan pizza and steak and frites, along with signature cocktails, wine and beer. “We hope the features and comforts of our new pool complex provide members with an experience rivaling that of an exclusive resort,” says Granruth.
And if recent data is any indicator of member response, then this wish has been fulfilled. Since the project’s announcement, 90 new families have joined LCC, many of whom are spending time by the water. “Our guest count during the 2022 pool season surpassed the previous three years combined of guest visits to the old pool,” says Granruth. In addition, food-and-beverage revenues at the pool were up a whopping 300 percent from the previous pool café’s revenue.
In anticipation of another stellar season, LCC is preparing its staff accordingly with ongoing training. “A new pool is fantastic, but it takes a highly qualified and dedicated staff to bring it to life each and every day,” Granruth notes. “We have invested in brick-and-mortar infrastructure, but this year our season preparations are focused on investing in people, so we can provide members with not only an exceptional facility, but exceptional hospitality to go along with it.”
A Place for Everyone—and Everyone in its Place
Kids frolicking in the water don’t have to compete for space with swimmers logging their daily laps or families cooling off together, thanks to a new pool complex at Greensboro (N.C.) Country Club that was unveiled Memorial Day weekend in 2022. Part of a $20 million club-wide renovation—$4.1 million of which was budgeted for this portion of the project—the facility boasts three separate pools, enabling members of all ages to enjoy time on their own turf and feel like they are on vacation. “A number of members [have] commented that GCC’s pool complex is a resort-style getaway, so they have decided not to travel as much and [instead] utilize the facilities at the club,” says COO/General Manager Friedrich Eder, CCM, CCE.
Amassing 14,224 sq. ft., GCC’s pool complex features a 5,153-sq.-ft. family pool (housed in the same space as the original structure), along with a new 2,574-sq.-ft. adult pool and a 741-sq.-ft. children’s splash pad. The family pool sports a zero-entry design, along with six lap lanes, a water basketball hoop, low- and mid-rise diving boards and a water slide. The heated adults-only pool has three lanes and in-water chaise lounges, while the splash pad is designed with interactive ground sprays and two spinning water fountains.
Another major asset of the pool redesign is an expanded pool deck, providing 50 percent more seating options for members and their guests. Umbrella-covered chaise lounges, along with trellis-covered table seating, overlook both pools and the splash pad area, providing parents and caregivers with a comfortable, dryland vantage point. A variety of dining options are available just off the pool complex, including a sports bar, a pavilion bar (near the family pool), family grill restaurants, snack bar and GCC’s most popular spot, the Donald Ross Terrace, a partially covered bar and eatery adjacent to the adult pool.
A natural extension to the pool area is a fitness, health and wellness center, which hosts group exercise classes in and around the vicinity. New changing rooms, restrooms and showers were also added to this facility.
With so much attention given to boost family memberships at GCC, the pool complex has become tremendously popular. Last year, the adult pool was used well into November to accommodate aqua fitness classes and lap swimmers, prompting the club to open the facility before Memorial Day (the family pool and splash pad will adhere to their original Memorial Day opening schedule). As a result, the club can expect a full house yet again this year and will be ready. “We have a highly trained staff of lifeguards, pool attendants, a certified pool operator, director of aquatics and, of course, plenty of food-and-beverage staff providing service to our members and guests,” says Eder.
At Westchester Hills Golf Club in White Plains, N.Y., members can enjoy a luxurious retreat without venturing far from home. It’s all thanks to a recent update to the club’s pool complex, which was completed in May 2021. “Our goal was to create a resort-style experience for our members,” says General Manager Josh Lowney, PGA, of the $750,000 improvement project that included new stonework, a new pool patio, bar area, furniture and lighting. “The key vision was a transformation of the space, so that members would decide to vacation with us and provide them with an extension of their backyard,” he adds.
Westchester Hills’ pool, which dates back to 1953, has been a perennial highlight of club life and continues to serve its membership well. Because the pool’s original footprint did not need to be enlarged, the emphasis was on expanding the surrounding area, showcased by 15,000 sq. ft. of patio space. “Families have celebrated, relaxed and enjoyed the space for generations, so it was important to us to protect the history while enhancing the atmosphere and experience for our members,” says Lowney.
Replacing a grass-covered area, the new patio fosters a resort-like setting for sunbathers and shade seekers alike. Seating is maximized with a major bump up from 75 to 300 guests, who can settle in any of the newly purchased chaise lounges, cabanas and day beds. Chaises are equipped with side tables and charging stations, enabling guests to stay connected while enjoying some down time. And when the sun sets and evening takes hold, accent and wall lights are activated, along with pillar lights positioned every eight feet, to add to the atmosphere. Lowney describes the vibe as “Miami Beach with a touch of Vegas; [it’s] certainly a key feature in our membership sales efforts and journey.”
As a result of this revitalization, members have been flocking to the pool in droves. In fact, according to Lowney, membership has reached peak numbers—the highest in club history—prompting the club to reinstate its initiation fees. In addition to seasonal usage, the pool has garnered interest for personal bookings outside of normal hours of operation. “We often have members looking to host parties and events of their own in the space because of the high-end summer feel,” he says.
And with the season opener right around the corner, Westchester Hills is abuzz with preparations which will kick into high gear in April. “When the pool is blue and the golf course is green, you know we are going to be set up for another successful season,” enthuses Lowney.
Summing It Up
> Updated pool facilities offer universal appeal for members of all ages.
> Allotting space for poolside decking and outfitting it with new furnishings enables swimmers and non-swimmers to take advantage of the amenities.
> Expanded pool centers translate to increased F&B revenues and additional members.
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