Club + Resort Business’ Second Annual Awards recognize The Country Club of Spartanburg (S.C.) for completing a cost-effective pool renovation that led to a more than 100% boost in snack-bar drink revenue, and a 70% increase in overall food-and-beverage sales; and Champions Run in Omaha, Neb. for creating a pair of events—Mermaid Camp for girls and Navy Seals camp for boys—to appeal to all the kids.
The December 2020 issue of Club + Resort Business features the 2020 Innovation Awards, recognizing club and resort properties that have conceived and implemented concepts that have paid real dividends in the form of enduring member and guest satisfaction and loyalty.
These properties were recognized for innovative achievement in the Recreation + Fitness category:
When Haissam Baityeh, CCM, CCE, became the new Chief Operating Officer of The Country Club of Spartanburg (S.C.) two years ago, he knew that addressing the pool, which he described as just being a “box of water” at the time, was a top priority to increase the club’s appeal to families. The shallowest end was four feet deep, so the youngest kids had to be held up by their parents.
The pool renovation was featured in an episode of The Road Back video series in November.
A $2 million-plus pool renovation plan had been spec’d out, but the club didn’t have that kind of money in its budget. In conjunction with Swim Club Management, a service provider, a much more cost-effective way was found to create what Baityeh says has now become a “magnetic attraction” for the club.
Without any demolition, the existing pool shell was used to introduce a zero-entry section with splash pad, while also adding a large slide and maintaining a 25-yard, deeper section for older kids, adults and competitions.
“We tried to work with what we had and ended up with an unbelievable project,” Baityeh says. “One of the objectives was to show the membership that we could do this while managing the costs and providing a product they would be proud of and want to tell their friends about. We accomplished that, and it helped to create enough confidence to allow us to immediately go into a dining-room renovation, too.”
The payoffs that have come directly from the pool renovation have included a doubling of average daily attendance, a more than 100% boost in snack-bar drink revenue, and a 70% increase in overall food-and-beverage sales.
Another unexpected twist to the project, at least for Baityeh, was the funding support provided by the membership. “This was brand new to me in my 30 years in the business, with members actually voluntarily donating money,” he says. “And a great compliment has been when some have come up to me to say, “It was the best money I’ve ever spent at this club.”
The pool operations team at Champions Run in Omaha, Neb. came up with unique events that had special appeal to the boys and girls among its member families. For “Mermaid camp,” girls learned to swim with mermaid tails, and the camp also included an underwater photo shoot to fully capture the memories. For “Navy Seals” camp, boys dressed up in military garb as they learned swimming survival skills and competed in obstacle courses and Navy Seal-style challenges. The camp culminated with an in-pool nerf war.