Private Clubs: Raising the Bar


Over the years we have seen many iterations of private clubs. From ale houses and social centres in key gateway cities across Europe, to golf courses and tennis resorts across the United States, private clubs continue to expand, grow and cater to those looking for a full-service experience. Today, it is less about a single activity or event and more about engaging with the membership and offering them a place to work, meet, play and eat – the full spectrum of offerings.

In addition to catering to 21st century needs, it’s important not to lose sight of the service culture and environment that is cultivated and communicated through the employees and to the members and their guests. As we continue to see the line blur between hotels, resorts and private clubs, it is interesting to note the following trends:

  • Hotel ownership groups are getting more and more into the “club” business. As the hospitality business continues to evolve, we are seeing more resort assets offer exclusive offerings and memberships to the local community. This can be in the form of social events, tennis, golf, etc., with the focus being on driving F&B, spa and other ancillary revenue. If a full membership doesn’t make sense, hotels are taking advantage of day passes and third-party groups like Resort Pass to maximize the ancillary day spend and local customer base. Of course, not every resort has the amenities and/or physical space to attract day guests, but the trend is continuing up, and we will continue to see more of these value-add plays in the market.
  • Private clubs are adding more amenities and offerings, similar to luxury resorts. Looking at it from the other perspective, private clubs are continuing to innovate and provide more services to their exclusive membership. Multiple F&B outlets, spas, pools and other family-friendly amenities are being built and expanded upon with the effort on engaging across generations and offering a one-stop shop for families. As the focus shifts more toward younger guests and family members, we are seeing less restrictions on cell phone policies and wearing denim.
  • Private clubs are engaging with luxury hotel training companies to “raise the bar.” I recently spoke with Peter Kressaty, EVP Global Partner Services at Forbes Travel Guide. He told me they are seeing an up-tick in their training services and explained how the clubs are looking to learn from the luxury travel market in terms of employee engagement, membership satisfaction and member services. As discussed above, with the smarter client comes more offerings, and it’s not just physical amenities – the member experience is and will continue to be the focal point moving ahead.

Whether it be a resort guest or a private club member, individuals are continuing to get smarter, and they are looking for the best experience for their buck. There remains a huge appetite to satisfy in the private club space, but the supply will soon outweigh the demand. That is why it is more important now, than ever before, to continue to engage, listen and connect with the members and make sure their needs and wants are not just being met, but exceeded.