Recreation & Fitness Case Study: SADDLE CREEK RESORT, Copperopolis, Calif.
|While its reputation for golf attracts people to Saddle Creek, the staff makes sure that guests know, once they’ve arrived, about the many other recreational activities to be enjoyed there|
On the second Friday of every month, Bill Troyanoski takes a brisk morning stroll on the Quail Trail at Saddle Creek Resort. These walks are not just an all-too-infrequent opportunity for the busy General Manager of the Castle and Cooke-owned property (located a few miles from the historic mining town of Copperopolis, Calif.) to stretch his legs and take in some seriously fresh Sierra Foothills air. They also provide a great opportunity for Troyanoski to meet with members, guests and homeowners, and find out what he and his staff can do to enhance their resort experience.
Troyanoski introduced his “Walks with William” shortly after moving to Northern California fifteen months ago. Typically, half a dozen or so strollers will join him on the seven-mile trail. Together, they will discuss anything from new menus at the Lodge’s Copper Grille, to the possibility of introducing dance classes.
“It’s such a great way to spark conversation and generate ideas,” he says. “Being outside in such a beautiful place seems to activate people’s imaginations.”
The walks are but a small part of Troyanoski’s efforts to establish Saddle Creek as a world-class destination. Its highly ranked, semi-private golf course, designed by Carter Morrish and Roy Bechtol, set the tone when it opened in 1996. But Troyanoski—who among other experiences in his career served for 17 years as Director of Golf at the Hershey Resort in Pennsylvania—knows that his facility’s other recreational offerings have to be every bit as good.
|Plans are in the works for a waterfront club on the northwest shores of Lake Tulloch, to give members even better access to great boating and fishing.|
“It’s not enough to just have a great golf course,” he says. “The food and beverage, lodging, and overall level of service have to be top quality, too. And offering other sporting and recreational amenities is also very important these days.”
Community Action Groups
Castle and Cooke, which bought Saddle Creek from Cloudburst Golf Partners in 1999, makes it a mission to operate communities that are “not just rows of houses,” Troyanoski says. So in addition to golf, and to better accommodate a growing and varied clientele, the property added a Sports Club in 2002.
The club, which sits adjacent to the 18th fairway, currently has 219 members, and is accessible to guests staying in one of the resort’s 17 beautifully appointed bungalows. There are numerous aerobic and cardio machines, including three treadmills, several exercise bikes, climbers, weights, benches, and nautilus equipment.
Outside, there’s a junior Olympic swimming pool, children’s wading pool, jacuzzi, two horseshoe pits, two hard tennis courts, and a large patio area for barbeques. Two crushed-shell bocce courts were added recently, and the 3,000 square feet of indoor space also includes spa rooms where local massage therapist Richard Close—regarded as one of California’s best after spending 18 years at the Hotel Del Coronado in San Diego—works his magic. Much of Close’s time is spent in the Sports Club, but he is also able to visit residents in their homes and guests staying in the bungalows.
“We also offer yoga and Pilates,” says Resort Concierge Linda Bond. “Yolanda Howell, a qualified personal trainer and one of our homeowners, provides classes three times a week. We also have floral design classes, complimentary bike rentals, and in the spring of 2005 we partnered with a local firm, the Copper Valley Trail Company [CVTC], to make horseback riding available.”
|Saddle Creek’s General Manager, Bill Troyanoski, offers monthly “Walks with William” to give members, guests and homeowners a chance to provide ideas and input about the property and its operations.|
Sending Them Packing
Owned by Mike Toberer and his wife Michele, the CVTC takes riders into the Calaveras County foothills and sometimes down to the shores of Lake Tulloch, five miles south of town. Toberer, a professional packer and the Individual World Champion Packer in 2001, operates his ranch year-round, but spends three months of every year packing mules in the Emigrant Wilderness, just to the north of Yosemite National Park.
“We have 25 head of horses here and I estimate that we took out 40 to 50 riders from Saddle Creek every month last year,” says Toberer. He expects that number to increase considerably as the relationship with the resort develops and more guests become aware of the number and nature of the rides available.
|“Being outside in such a beautiful place seems to activate people’s imaginations.” —Bill Troyanoski, GM, Saddle Creek Resort|
“We get a lot of moms and children,” he notes. “While Dad’s playing golf, we’ll take the rest of the family on one of our six packaged rides, some of which include a sack lunch or even a meal back at the resort’s Copper Grille restaurant. We also do sunset rides and can set up a table with hors d’oeuvres and wine. We give lessons in horsemanship, too.”
Taking the Plunge
To further enhance the variety of the experiences offered at the resort, plans are afoot for a waterfront club based on the northwest shores of Lake Tulloch. Dave Haley, Vice President and Division Manager of Castle and Cooke Calaveras, Inc., says that—subject to permitting—the club will feature a marina, restaurant and guest villas similar to the bungalows now on the first and ninth fairways at Saddle Creek.
“We plan to break ground in early 2009 and open later that year,” Haley says. “Residents of the four Castle & Cooke communities that are being built in and around Copperopolis—of which Saddle Creek is the first—will be granted membership to boat, fish, jet-ski, water-ski, wakeboard and kayak on some of California’s deepest and most pristine inland waters.”
When you consider the array of other activities now available within an hour or two of the resort (all of which Linda Bond can arrange from her office in the Lodge)—rafting the Tuolumne River, skiing Bear Valley, taking in the Sierra Repertory Theatre at Fallon House in Columbia, Calif., picking a winner at the Angels Camp Jumping Frog Jubilee, going to tastings at any of the foothills’ 28 major wineries, or simply enjoying the views in Yosemite—it’s unlikely you’ll ever hear anyone who comes to Saddle Creek complain of boredom.
And next summer, when Castle and Cooke completes the new Copperopolis Town Square—where an “active” park is being developed and historically sensitive buildings, one-of-a-kind retail stores and fine-dining
restaurants will open onto wide, pedestrian-friendly streets—that will just add one more reason for members and guests to go “footloose in the foothills.”
“Most of the time, the reputation of the golf course attracts people to Saddle Creek,” says Troyanoski. “But after they’ve been here a while, they realize golf is only a small part of what we have to offer.” C&RB
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