The expanded patio at Hawthorn Woods (Ill.) Country Club has become the vibrant social center of the club.
One of the biggest draws at clubs and resorts is the lush scenery and grounds. Well-appointed patios are the perfect way to offer members and guests a chance to enjoy their surroundings, while also increasing food and beverage revenue and activity at the property.
When the leadership at Hawthorn Woods (Ill.) Country Club sought a way to improve amenities and increase club use, they looked outside. The club expanded its patio space to create a dynamic outdoor dining venue with resort-inspired style.
“More people are opting to stay close to home with ‘staycations’ these days,” says Terry Hanley, General Manager of the suburban Chicago club. “We knew that if we added resort-like amenities to our club, it would go a long way.”
|Hawthorn Woods Country Club
Hawthorn Woods, Ill.
Opened: Spring 2012
The club’s former patio was a standard cement slab located just outside the dining room that had 12 tables with umbrellas and chairs. While the patio was popular in warm months, expanding it would take it to the next level. “Our concept for the patio expansion was to build it like a residential backyard, so members would be comfortable and want to spend time at the club for a while,” says Hanley.
To make this concept a reality, the club built additional patio spaces on either side of the existing patio. The new south-side addition is located just outside the men’s locker room, and is typically used for casual, after-golf cocktails. A small lawn area separates this patio space from the expanded north side, which is connected to the casual dining room and is typically utilized for al fresco dining and drinks. The entire patio area overlooks the putting green, chipping area and driving range.
The expanded patios were built with the same cement flooring and red brick paver border as the original patio. “We wanted to make sure it looked like all the patio areas tied together,” says Hanley. “It looks as if the new patios have been there since day one.”
In addition to the existing dining tables and chairs, the club added 18 seats with oversized, cushioned chairs, loveseats and coffee tables set up in conversation areas. An outdoor sound system with four speakers pipes music through the patio at all times. The lawn area between the north and south patios is sometimes used as a stage area for live music.
The club added three gas fire pits—one in the south patio and two in the north patio—to extend the time that members could enjoy the outdoors as the weather cools. Grounds staff built the remaining parts of the fire pits with natural stones that match the stone detailing on the clubhouse.
“[Our members] often meet outside by the fire pits and then stay for the evening,” says Hanley. “Fire and music are amazing elements to bring people together.”
To establish lively and comfortable ambiance, the club planted native plants and shrubbery along the border of the patio. Copper tiki torches are also set up throughout the entire patio, while indirect lighting from the clubhouse provides a warm glow to the area after sundown.
In its first season, the improved patio is a hit. “The patio has become an extension of our dining room and has increased our cover count,” says Hanley. “We thought we would see [a return on the investment] in a year or two. But I believe we’ve already had the return with the incremental revenues it has generated. It is definitely one of the best investments we’ve made.”