5 Design Features to Make Outdoor Clubhouse Spaces More Profitable
Al fresco dining is not only fun and memorable when weather permits, it can boost food and beverage sales by attracting more guests and increasing seating. Summer may be in full swing, but it’s never too late for clubhouse managers to invest in design enhancements for outdoor dining and patio spaces.
In fact, creating the ultimate al fresco environment for club members has been shown to significantly increase food-and-beverage revenues, notes Club & Resort Business. Even adding an outdoor seating area alone can be a major win. Research from Vucurevich | Simons Advisory Group shows that a $200,000 investment in outdoor seating areas could increase overall sales by $500,000. That profit margin goes even higher if the outdoor patio is open year-round, which could be achieved even in cooler climates with the creative use of outdoor heaters and fireplaces.
Maximize space in pool areas to create a destination for guests (Image: Mary Cook Associates)
But that’s not the only way a well-designed clubhouse outdoor space is good for business. With the right amenities and features, previously underutilized patios around the golf course or pool area can become go-to destinations for members, giving them a reason to visit more often, stay longer and bring more guests. In these competitive times, such enhancements are a major investment in a club’s future growth.
From our work in clubhouse interior and exterior design, here are five features that can maximize return on outdoor space:
Fireplaces and fire pits add intimacy to an outdoor space (Image: Mary Cook Associates)
Add Heat: The best way to extend use of a clubhouse patio and dining area through spring and fall is to add a warming element. Savvy bar owners have been relying on outdoor heating lamps for beer gardens and other outdoor dining spaces for years. Take that trend one step further and add a fireplace or fire pit, which warms a patio literally and metaphorically by setting a more intimate, alluring mood that can attract more guests in warm climates outdoor spaces as well. We favor fire pits in our clubhouse design projects because they allow people to sit all the way around the fire. Choose one with a low profile to keep sight lines open and conversations flowing into the night.
Furnish patios thoughtfully with adaptable furniture and cushioned seating (Image: Mary Cook Associates)
Furnish Comfortably: Whether it’s an outdoor dining area or a clubhouse patio bar designed for mingling, choosing the right furnishings makes the difference between failure and success. Anticipating all the different ways the outdoor space will be used is critical. Pieces must be comfortable and flexible to accommodate a variety of functions and weather conditions. Cushions add comfort and elegance if you have staff available to remove them and store when it’s windy or rainy. If not, choose something more practical such as wood pieces that offer comfort but resist the elements. There are also stackable chairs that are comfortable, attractive, resist the elements and are easy to store.. Just don’t forget that function and livability are key. The same outdoor sofas and lounge chairs that set the stage for casual club functions must also be work for grand, formal events.
Be sure to consider protection from the hot, summer sun (Image: Mary Cook Associates)
Allow For Shade: The summer sun is blissful, but too much of a good thing can send customers running for cover. Remember to integrate ample areas of shade and protection from the sun, particularly in dining spaces. Umbrellas are the most common option, and with the right fabric offer important UV protection as well. But temporary and permanent shade structures can be used to increase the functionality of open patios and decks by dividing it into more intimate areas. A pergola evokes quintessential country club chic, especially when covered with ivy or flowering plants. Add a ceiling fan or weather-resistant chandelier and it becomes a formal outdoor room.
Lighting plays an essential role in creating a warm, welcoming outdoor enviornment (Image: Mary Cook Associates)
Light Smart: When designing illumination for any outdoor space, consider the three essentials of lighting, advises the American Lighting Association. A mix of overhead, task, and ambient lighting is necessary for visibility, safety, and aesthetics. If you have a pool as part of this outdoor clubhouse retreat, lighting around the edges and under water will need to be done in accordance with code. For similar safety reasons, paths and steps should be well-lit and easy to navigate in the dark. Dining areas further lighting requirements that will need to be the most flexible, depending on the time of day and the event. As much as we love candles, nothing is worse than trying to eat when you can’t see your food. Instead, opt for a blend of ambient and overhead lighting with stationary and movable lights. For instance, strings of decorative lights can help set the mood for an impromptu cocktail party while discreetly placed halogens can shine the spotlight on natural and architectural focal points. Continue that creative approach in lighting other parts of the outdoor space, especially areas designed for lounging around a fire or water feature. One of our favorite club design strategies is to run lights out into the golf course, visually expanding the space and lighting the view after sunset.
Don’t Forget Tech: Going outside might mean getting in touch with nature and the great outdoors, but today’s generation still wants their gadgets, technology and audiovisuals. The influence of the millennials means tablets and laptops are now part of the social experience. Smart outdoor living and dining spaces are equipped with Wi-Fi and ample outlets to plug in. Aside from attracting members and keeping them happy, remember that technology drives every major clubhouse event—a key factor to keep that revenue stream flowing. Invest in a quality sound system that’s flexible for multiple needs and big screen televisions that can be placed strategically throughout the outdoor space. Whether it’s for a private party or a members-only viewing of the big game under the stars, the right touch of tech is the secret to clubhouse success.