For toddlers and teens, kids’ spaces have become popular clubs within the club, and are proving to be essential for attracting families and a younger demographic.
As a playful place that younger members can truly call their own, the kids’ club has become the main attraction for family membership at club properties. This year-round amenity provides a much-needed service for parents and children alike, allowing adults to enjoy free time on the premises while giving kids a full dose of their own share of fun.
As clubs continue to focus on attracting a younger demographic, the role of the kids’ club has become an essential component that ranks high on the list of must-have attractions.
Room to Grow
When the Country Club of Roswell (Ga.) came under new ownership in February 2020, a dedicated space for kids was one of the top priorities. “As part of their long-term vision for the club, Concert Golf Partners wanted to really focus on new amenities for the family,” says former General Manager John Spiess, CCM, PGA (who recently moved to a new position at Sara Bay Country Club in Sarasota, Fla.). Over the course of two months, the club converted an existing boardroom and staff office into a 900-sq. ft. kids’ rec room, which officially opened to members in June 2020.
Adjacent to the family dining room, the kids’ club boasts brightly painted walls, furnishings and carpeting in neutral tones and built-in cubbies for storing toys and games. An array of comfortable seating, including a couch and beanbag chairs, are positioned alongside kid-sized tables and chairs. Three flat-screen televisions can be used for movie watching or game playing.
While the room is mainly used for free play, the club also holds story time and group activities for ages three and up, with a maximum occupancy capped at 25 (for both kids and staff).
During the pandemic, the kids’ room was utilized with strict safety precautions: routine temperature checks and sanitizing all surfaces several times daily. Presently, the space is occupied two to three times each week for childcare while parents are dining, playing golf or tennis, or exercising in the fitness facilities.
“In the past, children from the kids’ club and our staff would have to roam around the club or any available room to host our weekly events,” says Director of Youth Activities Whitney Montgomery. “Unfortunately, sometimes we would even have to host entire kids’ club events outside due to limited space in the club, causing us to limit our numbers of children joining the events. With the new renovations, this gives us a safe and appropriate area for the kids to be free and have fun.”
On the future agenda is a full slate to maximize the kids’ room’s year-round usage, through winter, fall, spring break and weekend camps; movie nights; and themed event nights such as Halloween, Christmas, and Valentine’s Day parties. The club is also planning to expand its weekly hours and install gaming systems for ‘tween members.
“This new member amenity has really allowed us to grow the membership, as we have seen over 100 new member families join our club in the past year,” says Spiess. “These new families are excited about the opportunity to use the club and know that their children can also enjoy the club in this safe and secure child-friendly area.”
Something for Everyone
Prior to August 2020, the kids’ club at Bay Harbor (Mich.) Yacht Club (BHYC) was run out of a conference room that served as home base for summer camp. “Our junior members needed a comfortable and modern place to call their own,” explains General Manager Kathleen Muneio. “BHYC is a very family-friendly club and over the last couple of years has also seen an influx of younger families moving to northern Michigan and joining the club.”
To give kids a place to call their own, the club created a dedicated space that was unveiled to members in the summer of 2020.
The 1,200-sq. ft. kids’ club, adjacent to the newly redesigned Quarter Deck restaurant and wellness center (which also opened in August 2020), boasts a flexible design to accommodate children ages 3-14. On one side of the room are games, toys, books and children’s furniture primarily for younger kids, while the other side features three wall-mounted televisions, gaming, large tables and chairs, and a ping-pong table designed for ‘tweens and teens.
The room is set in a bright and cheery color scheme, with purples, blue, golds and lime-green furnishings set against white walls adorned with beachy prints (see photo above). The casual vibe is further enhanced by soft seating and a circular couch that encourages kids to relax and stay awhile (see photo, pg. 37). While the free-play area attracts younger kids, a craft station and beam projector with over 100 contactless games help to keep older ones entertained and occupied.
In addition to a host of fun daytime activities, the kids’ club also serves as a safe haven at night. “BHYC offers child care during the evenings, so members can enjoy a dinner at the club while their children play and engage with other junior members,” notes Muneio.
With a maximum occupancy of sixteen kids and four staff members, the room provides ample space for social distancing, which came in handy during the official opening. While COVID restrictions were in place, the kids’ club ran at 25-percent capacity, with tables and chairs spaced six feet apart.
Now with most restrictions lifted and club operations back in full swing, the BHYC staff expects the kids’ club to be in a fully operational mode. “Members and prospective members are excited that their children and grandchildren have a comfortable and safe place to play, learn and engage with other junior members and staff,” says Muneio.
Letting Kids Be Kids
At Lancaster (Pa.) Country Club (LCC), providing a dedicated kids’ club was an essential component to the club’s master construction plan from the get-go. “Through market research, our team understood [that] the importance of a well-thought-out space for kids to be kids would be a major selling point for this next generation of members,” explains Director of Membership & Communications Andrea Zimmerman. “Gone are the days when the country club caters to the male golfer only; we knew it would be important to address the needs of every member of the family, especially the kids.”With a targeted opening date of early July 2021, the LCC KidSpace (see rendering above) will be part of a 20,000-sq. ft. activities pavilion focused on family and wellness amenities. (This facility will also include a fitness center, casual family dining, three golf simulators and a resort-style pool with outdoor kitchen and bar area.) Designed as a mixed-use operation, the kids’ room will offer free play for ages three and up and serve as both a hangout space for teens and a childcare facility while parents are using other areas of the club.
To create a space that is child-friendly while also adhering to the modern aesthetics of the activities pavilion, LCC worked with a professional interior designer and a design committee to curate age-appropriate furnishings and accessories. “We stayed away from sharp corners for coffee tables and instead selected round, plush ottomans,” notes Zimmerman. Chairs at the craft table are tip-proof, while a couch is outfitted in a spill-proof fabric.
An adjoining kids’ restroom follows the vibrant blue color palette of the activities pavilion, albeit in a modern geometric tile. Toys and games were selected for their developmental and sensory benefits for different skill levels and abilities, and include a Lego wall, craft table and bubble-hockey table. “An intentional decision was also made to create a space outdoors on the terrace gated off from the adult terrace, where kids can enjoy fresh air during the warmer months,” Zimmerman adds.
By reserving space specifically for kids only, Chief Operating Officer/General Manager Ryan Granruth, CCM, believes that decision will, in turn, streamline the workflow of the rest of the club more effectively. “This allows us to put revenue-producing areas, such as ballrooms and other banquet spaces, back into operation [and to] generate F&B rental via banquets,” he notes.
As LCC puts the finishing touches on the KidSpace prior to its grand opening, the team is setting its sights on a strong reception—not only for play and child care, but for future kids’ events and birthday parties.
“Members are excited and eager to begin using this space, especially when they realize [it provides] the opportunity for parents to enjoy a date night and other on-premises adult activities,” says Zimmerman. “To know that they don’t have to worry about getting a babysitter and that everyone can be at the club one night truly creates a one-stop shop for busy families.”
Summing It Up
> Repurposing underutilized spaces such as a conference room or office can serve as an ideal location for a kids’ club.
> Careful attention to kid-friendly furnishings creates a safe and engaging atmosphere for free play and structured activities.
> Offering the added incentive of childcare services extends the facility’s usefulness beyond traditional hours of operation.