Skip links

Expanding the Clubhouse Boundaries: Meeting Diverse and Growing Demands

The clubhouse is the heart of the club. It is where members gather, socialize, participate in numerous club events and activities, as well as relax. Today, clubhouses offer more amenities that cater to an increasingly diverse guest and member makeup and demands. To keep up, clubs across the country are regularly revamping their facilities and clubhouses. According to a recent NCA survey, 90 percent of responding clubs said they have gone through a major capital project in the past five years. Nearly just as many (87%) are planning a major capital project within the next five years. Here are several large trends impacting clubhouse facilities.


Technology is flourishing among nearly all American demographics. According to Pew Research Center, 65 percent of Americans owned a smartphone in 2015—nearly double the 35 percent who owned the device in 2011. Among those aged 65 or more, 30 percent owned a smartphone and 78 percent owned a cell phone. Roughly half (45%) of all adult Americans own a tablet, and slightly more than one in three own a smartphone, computer and tablet. Today, there are more ways than ever before to stay connected, work and surf the web on the go.

Americans’ reliance on wireless technology like Wi-Fi has also shaped the way we work and gather. Increasingly the line between the time for work and leisure is blurring. According to Forbes, mobile devices account for half of all corporate network activity. In 2013, The Wall Street Journal reported that Starbucks alone had more than 12,000 locations equipped with Wi-Fi—rivaling the 15,000 public libraries that offer the service.

Many lobbies and lounge areas have incorporated technology to facilitate the transition between work and leisure on mobile devices. Josh Held, a hospitality designer and founder and president of Josh Held Design, says that these spaces should be equipped Wi-Fi and easy-to-access outlets with USB chargers.

Priorities for Hotel Tech Spending

Payment & data security: 62%

Guest room technology: 56%

Bandwidth: 45%

Mobile engagement: 43%


Members join clubs for the community they offer. Outside the club world, facilities are incorporating new strategies that literally tear down walls and bring people together.

As wireless technology continues to untether staff from their desks, offices are including more casual spaces to make work more fun as well as to facilitate collaboration and creativity. White boards, glass walls and large, communal desks have become fashionable. Lounges have also become popular in business settings and have replaced some workstations, offering a less rigid, more engaging environment employees can enjoy, says Jeff Miller, formerly at Apple who now is vice president of design at Poppin, an office furniture and accessory manufacturer.

Community tables are gaining traction in restaurants as well, particularly casual and social restaurants, reports Restaurant Magazine. While some patrons are apprehensive about sitting next to strangers, communal seating arrangements often facilitate conversation, sharing and building of new relationships.

Casual & Multipurpose Spaces

Consumers are timed-constrained and have numerous options for activities and venues to choose from. Many organizations today not only offer a wide range of programs and amenities, but also provide them in a single, flexible space.

Hotel lobby areas have evolved in order to meet new expectations by meshing the lobby, lobby bar and nearby lounge. Gordon Beckman, principal and design director at John Portman & Associates, an international design firm, says that these areas can be equipped with moveable and glass walls to help connect them, offering a separated but unified setting.

Lobby bars are particularly versatile. They can multitask as a social space as well as a place to be alone, says Beckman. Designer Josh Held points out that the lobby bar can serve as a work area, a casual restaurant, or a meeting space during the daytime and transition into a full bar or nightclub at night. He also notes that successful hotel lobbies offers “multiple levels of engagement and multiple levels of experience.” One simple way this can be achieved is incorporating chairs and tables with varying heights.

In businesses, multipurpose spaces can transform to fit various uses, from multimedia presentations to breakout areas, says Steve Lesizza, principal at Workwell Partners, an office furniture solutions firm. Modular components that can be stacked, mixed and rearranged offer new combinations to create a dynamic workplace, says Steve Delfino, vice president of corporate marketing and product management at the interior design firm Teknion.

Food and beverage operations are capitalizing on multipurpose facilities, offering fun experiences with tasty meals and drinks. Startup EVO Entertainment opened a 70,000 square-foot movie, bowling, gaming and restaurant facility in Kyle, Texas. The project was designed to give customers a view of all the facility’s offerings as soon as patrons enter. AMC Theaters has also expanded its F&B services, offering varying levels of service to satisfy customers. Its MacGuffin’s Bar & Lounge format serves beer, wine and cocktails before and during their showings. The AMC Red Kitchen format offers gourmet entrees and desserts that are delivered directly to the moviegoer’s seat.


According to the Global Wellness Institute, the wellness industry (spas, healthy eating/nutrition, fitness, etc.) generated $3.72 trillion in revenue in 2015—a 10.6 percent increase from 2013.

Stress is connected to health. The National Health Service in Scotland reports that high stress levels contribute to a 90 percent higher mortality rate. As lives increase in pace, the need for a spa respite is growing, particularly for men. According to the International Spa Association, 47 percent of U.S. spa clients in 2015 were men, a 17 percent increase since 2010.

Gary Henkin, president and founder of WTS International, a spa consultant and design firm, identifies several key spa trends that shape programming and design:

Preventative health care – Spas are shifting from pampering clients to treating their health and wellness as well as partnering with health care professionals.

Eco-friendly spas – These include recycled wood, geothermal and wind-powered electricity, recycling options and local, organic food.

Back to the basics – There is less focus on trendy treatments than on core services. Well-trained staff and result-oriented treatments are key to compete in today’s market.

“Social spa-ing” – More groups are going to spas to spend time using pools, saunas, relaxation areas and other amenities.

Stress Relief – Yoga, tai chi, relaxation massages, renewal and detoxification programs, isolated and longer treatments are growing in popularity in order to help spa goers alleviate stress.

New Approaches – Technology now allows clients to listen to personal music at the spa, book visits online and receive alerts.

Gen X and Y – Younger generations have increased their spa visits, going out of necessity and preventative health reasons rather than indulgence. Incorporating technology into designs and treatments can be effective for these demographics.

Environment & Outdoors

Americans have placed an increased focus on the environment, whether in their daily lives or in their expectations of organizations. Businesses have adapted to these preferences and as a result, have modified their physical plants to include more eco-friendly systems and designs.

As discussed in the summer 2016 issue of Club Trends, the hospitality industry, including private clubs, are installing eco-friendly systems that help reduce their carbon footprints as well as reduce costs. These changes include energy efficient lighting, smart heating and air conditioning systems and cloud-based point of sales systems. Depending on the size of the operation, environmentally friendly installations like these can reduce annual energy bills by thousands of dollars.

Interiors are being outfitted with living/green walls—walls decorated with live plants. Tech companies like Facebook and Twitter have incorporated this design in their workspaces, and the benefits of which are both artistic and scientific. Numerous studies have shown that indoor plants can help improve air quality, health, mood and even work performance.

In homes, the line between indoor and outdoor spaces is blurring. According to Best American Living Awards judges, Joe Digrado, a senior associate with the Danielian Associates architecture firm, and Richard Smith, of design-build firm RJ Associates, the entryways between outdoor and indoor areas are becoming less defined and more fluid, allowing for a seamless transition back and forth. Designers are installing retractable glass walls and screens, stacking doors and natural flooring that blend the indoors and outdoors. 

Digrado and Smith also note that homes are incorporating more intimate outdoor spaces. These areas allow people to relax and socialize, often around fire pits in a small seating configuration. “Outdoor space is really becoming an important part of the design of a home,” Smith says. “It’s as much living space as the indoor space, even in colder climates.

Family Friendly

Although parents and their children are increasingly time-constrained, families are spending more time together now than over the past several decades. According to the Journal of Marriage and Family, U.S. families spent more time with their children in 2010 than at any point since 1965.

Especially among affluent families, parents are including their children in their travel plans more than ever before, says Albert Herrera, senior vice president of Global Product Partnerships for Virtuoso, a luxury travel network. To accommodate these young travelers, hotels are creating more child- and family-friendly amenities that mirror offerings in the club world.

At the Four Seasons, young guests can participate in a pizza making class at its Chicago location. In its Orlando hotel, on Saturday nights families can watch “dive-in” movies on a 180-inch poolside screen. Peninsula Hotels offer child-friendly programming through its Kids Academy, which teaches children a variety of skills. These events range from a princess-themed night that teaches young girls etiquette to a kite workshop that shows kids how to construct one.

Families are also influencing restaurants. According to the National Restaurant Association (NRA), kids are fast becoming restaurants’ most important guests. The NRA’s “What’s Hot 2017 Culinary Forecast” lists healthy kids’ meals in the top 10 list (it’s #3) for 2017 trends. These dishes differentiate themselves from typical children’s menu plates by offering healthier and more sophisticated options, teaching children that food that is healthy doesn’t mean it is boring or bland. A study by ChildObesity 180 at Tufts University revealed that offering healthy, child-friendly options increased restaurants’ potential for increased sales.

A Little Bit for Everyone

Club facilities have the growing challenge of providing more services for a wider variety of members, ranging from play areas for youth to quiet areas for relaxation. Despite these challenges, facilities are matching expectations of members through adaptive solutions that pay close attention to today’s trends. 

Club Trends Fall 2016