Blending the quality and comfort of a resort setting with the personal touches of a club has become a popular trend in recent years. To offer its members a taste of resort living, Carmel Country Club in Charlotte, N.C., built a new pool complex as part of its multi-phase strategic plan.
The goal for the complex was to “mirror what you experience at a high-end resort, when you go out the back door to the pool deck and it feels like you’ve arrived somewhere special,” says John Schultz, General Manager. “We were going for that theme, to create a retreat for members.”
Carmel CC’s pool complex is an oasis of entertainment and relaxation. Palm trees, shrubbery and planters set a tropical setting for the area, which includes two pools, a diving board, two water slides and an infant/toddler zero-entry area. Two hundred chaise lounges surround the pool, along with low-rise sand chairs, overstuffed upholstered lounge chairs and ottomans. Wooden trellises and pergolas provide shade, while overhead fans create a cooling effect.
Pool area square footage: Just under an acre
The complex was designed with multiple levels, separated by steps and planters. Each level has different gathering areas, while the two pools are separated by a five-foot drop with a stairway. “The idea was to break up the space into smaller groups, so it didn’t feel so vast,” says Schultz.
While designing a pool space that would attract families was a top priority, the club was equally committed to creating a space for adults to enjoy as well. “We wanted the pool complex to have more purposes than just kids swimming back and forth,” says Schultz.
Thus was born the Tiki Bar. Located between the two pools, the bustling Tiki Bar attracts members looking for a cool drink and plenty of camaraderie. At the center of the structure is the bar itself, which has a stained concrete bar top and a tiled base. There is bar seating for 20, and seating for 85 people at woven wicker-like tables and chairs that surround the bar. Four televisions in the space, along with frozen drink machines and beer taps, create a sports-bar type setting.
The pool also has a 60-seat indoor snack bar that provides chicken fingers and hamburgers, along with more healthful fare such as salads and grilled chicken. One goal for the snack bar was to increase efficiency and get the snack bar line moving quicker. That led to a decision to let pool users serve themselves their own drinks, which Schultz says has “speeded up the process by 10 times.”
During the pool renovation, the club moved an old foosball table and pingpong table into a 30-by-30 covered space where the former entrance to the pool had been. “When we opened, this area was well-attended, even with old machines,” says Schultz. “The kids wanted a place to get out of the sun. So we kept adding more stuff there. Now we have basketball machines, a dome hockey machine, and two foosball machines.”
While the pool renovation came with a hefty $5 million price tag, it has quickly justified the expense. “The first year, we took in $5 million in initiation fees,” says Schultz. “Additionally, our social membership has taken off; we are almost at a cap in social members. A large part of this is a response to the pool complex.”
Further, the pool went from bringing in $8,000 in guest fees per year to $50,000 after the renovation. Pool-related F&B revenues increased dramatically as well, going from $110,000 before the renovation to $285,000.