The Highlands, N.C. club completed a renovation of its existing staff housing complex resulting in six full-furnished units that have garnered rave reviews from club employees. The project helped with staff retention, minimizing the scramble for seasonal employees and maximizing employees’ service performance and knowledge of members’ expectations.
Part of the challenge of staffing for seasonal facilities—as well as staffing up for peak seasons—often requires helping on-site employees find adequate housing that will minimize any potential disruptions to their job performance.
And with competition to find and retain seasonal staff at an all-time high, the more that club and resort properties can do to provide accommodations that will attract personnel and have them live comfortably during the duration of their stay, the better position those properties will be in, to secure return work engagements and minimize the annual scramble for needed personnel.
At Wildcat Cliffs Country Club in Highlands, N.C., a complete renovation of the property’s existing staff housing complex resulted in six full-furnished units that have garnered rave reviews from club employees. (Hired staff is eligible to utilize club housing and is assigned space for occupancy from the end of April through the first week in November.)
As Clubhouse Manager Allen Dermody puts it, the renovation project for the employee housing was “way past due.” After a presentation by the Board of Directors and unanimous membership approval, the project got underway in November 2017 and was completed the following April—just in time for the property’s season opening in May 2018.
Planning was led by former General Manager George Shook, who met with a Franklin, N.C.-based custom homebuilder to determine and design the right housing needs. “Mr. Shook felt it was necessary for each room to have its own bathroom, to give the staff the appreciation of privacy,” explains Dermody. “He also extended the decks of each house, to make for a comfortable outside gathering place, since the weather is so beautiful here in the western North Carolina mountains.”
Each of the six two-bedroom, three-bathroom homes are outfitted with a state-of-the-art kitchen, small gathering place and covered outdoor patio. Bedrooms are furnished with a comfortable bed, side table and dresser, and additional amenities include high-speed Internet access and a flat-screen television.
Staff members using the housing are required to clean and maintain their living spaces during their six-month stays, and at the end of the season, each house undergoes a deep cleaning prior to a winterization process.
Renovating the space mostly went according to plan, but did experience a few hiccups. Challenges were encountered to tie the new homes into the city sewer lines and relocate all of the power and cable lines underground. Dermody credits the work of the club’s Director of Facilities, John Impagliatelli, for successfully finding solutions to these issues.
“With a lot of patience and hard work, [John] and his amazing team overcame the disruptions in a timely manner, and we were able to deliver six brand-new accommodations to the newly arrived staff for the 2018 season,” Dermody says.
In fact, the prospect of renovated housing was so intriguing, many of the previous season’s staffers were encouraged to return even before they saw the new accommodations. “I cannot express in words how wowed they were when they arrived to see the brand-new homes,” Dermody enthuses.
And now that it’s been seen and experienced, the updated housing has been an impetus for helping Wildcat Cliffs to market and promote working at the club to prospective employees—something that benefits both staff and membership.
“Many of our staff have now returned for the third season and cannot believe they get their very own house to live in for the six-month stint,” Dermody says. “They know all of the members’ expectations and they understand the ‘Wildcat Way,’ which is geared to providing each member with a memorable experience during their stay in the mountains.”
The Goal: Provide housing for seasonal employees of Wildcat Cliffs CC with all the comforts of home.
The Plan: Renovate six two-bedroom, three-bathroom homes equipped with essential amenities for a six-month stay.
The Payoff: Retain staff for multiple seasons to minimize the scramble for seasonal employees and maximize employees’ service performance and knowledge of members’ expectations.