September 17, 2020

*This article was published in the Fall/Winter 2020 edition of the Club Leaders Forum under a byline by KDC.

Even before COVID-19 disrupted food and beverage operations worldwide, top private clubs were undergoing dramatic changes in how dining amenities were being designed and used for the changing demographics of today’s ever-evolving membership.

Two common themes we keep hearing from our Platinum Club partners is the desire for more distinctive dining destinations throughout the various clubhouses and/or campuses and greater indoor-outdoor options – further extending warm-weather seasons and enhancing club life for a ‘youthful’ membership becoming more family-oriented and multi-generational by nature.

A great example of how these design trends are exceeding expectations and helping grow revenues/membership sales is Belfair, a residential Platinum Club community in Bluffton, S.C. According to general manager Ken Kosak of Troon Prive, golf still ranks the No. 1 amenity in surveys, but fitness and food and beverage are making incredible gains driven by the younger membership Belfair is capturing.

That explains the impetus behind Belfair’s newly built 21,000-square-foot Sports and Lifestyle Campus featuring a state-of-the-art fitness center that doubled in size alongside a new outdoor pool complex. One of the more popular highlights of the $8.75 million capital improvement plan created by Kuo Diedrich Chi is The Bistro – a fast-casual restaurant next to the resort-style pool that features a pizza oven, interactive open kitchen and roll-up indoor-outdoor bar serving craft beers and cocktails.

And this was on the heels of another recent round of multi-million-dollar improvements KDC helped reimagine comprising a major outdoor dining expansion to the main. To no surprise, Belfair reports members are flocking to the newly opened Bistro and Sports and Lifestyle campus that is becoming the “village center for sports, wellness and lifestyle” where members of all ages are welcome to enjoy in a casual but elegant setting.

Another unique dining trend KDC is starting to see within this greater aforementioned Platinum Club landscape is the vision to actually create multiple “branded” dining destinations within the club, whether it’s designing a “fast-casual” venue in one place to “resort-style pool” destinations to even more “fine dining” clubhouse choices.

Perhaps one of the more exciting examples of this type of distinctive branding was when KDC helped orchestrate and design the first official Arnold Palmer-branded restaurants at The Landings Club on Skidaway Island, Ga.: Palmer’s Steakhouse and Arnie’s Tavern, which opened Spring 2020.

Of course, the latter “brand” or style is not to be mistaken for outdated “formal dining.” What fine dining means now is an overall higher-quality experience, including locally sourced, farm-to-fresh cuisine to wine pairings and carefully crafted cocktails — all in a casual yet sophisticated setting or atmosphere created with discerning design elements and décor.