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Staying Power: Lodging Gains New Value as a Timely Club Amenity

Lodging and guest rooms have a connection with the private club industry in the U.S. that dates back to its earliest days. Many of the oldest clubs’ original

clubhouses were built to include apartments or extended- stay accommodations, which sometimes even served as residences for the club’s general manager. At some of those clubhouses that still exist today, that space has been con- verted into staff offices or for other purposes. But at others, it has been retained and converted into overnight rooms that can be made available to members, guests or even staff as needed.

A recently conducted McMahon Group Pulse Survey showed that providing some form of on-site lodging is still more the exception than the rule for the private club industry as a whole. City clubs still lead the way as the

segment where lodging is the most prevalent. But the Pulse Survey results showed that more golf and country clubs are also putting a new emphasis on providing and/or enhancing this amenity. Two-thirds of responding clubs said they had renovated their guest rooms/accommodations within the last three years. And as part of that, some have increased the number of rooms they are making available on their properties.

Several factors have converged to spur new interest among clubs of all types for exploring the value of on-site lodging and accommodations:

  • The difficulties experienced by the hotel and resort industries as a result of the pandemic, combined with clubs’ emergence as an acknowledged “safe haven,” helped clubs that had or were planning guest rooms solidify their value with existing members, while also being able to offer another valuable attraction to prospective members (responses to the Pulse Survey showed that overnight accommodations can be a valuable marketing tool when used by non-member guests and combined with full club privileges).
  • The search for new revenue streams in the post-pandemic world has also shined a new light on the potential returns that can be gained by providing lodging both as an additional service for members and their guests, as well as a value-added feature that can help a club secure business from weddings and other functions (responses also showed that some clubs’ occupancy rates and annual room revenues increased after the start of the pandemic).
  • Finally, more clubs are recognizing how on-site lodging fits well with their long-range strategic direction, to position themselves as destinations and “homes away from home.” This has led to an increased emphasis on facilities that include guest rooms in renovation and master plans, such as was recently announced by Fiddler’s Elbow in Bedminster, N.J., where a proposed expansion would include a 30,756-square-foot., three-story lodge with 24 guest rooms next to the first tee of its Meadows Course.

This special Club Trends report provides further details behind the trends and forces that are driving more clubs to put a renewed emphasis on lodging as a timely and valuable amenity and member/guest service. The report also presents case-history examples, to highlight the benefits many leading clubs have gained by maximizing the attention they have given to the on-site accommodations that they now provide.


Many properties offer guest room accommodations to make it more convenient for members to use their clubs, especially if they are in more remote areas where driving back home can involve significant distances.

City club overnight rooms appeal to business and social travelers, as they provide convenient locations for downtown business use while also offering convenience and an assurance of safety, privacy and exclusive quality when trips are taken to major cities for vacations, shopping, weddings or other social events. As an added plus, these city club room rates are also considerably less expensive than those offered by major hotels.

Clubs’ overnight accommodations also offer a great variety of other amenities for the traveler. Most if not all city clubs have reciprocal relationships with many other city clubs throughout the world, so members of one club can use another’s overnight accommodations. A typical large city club can easily have reciprocal associations with more than 100 other private city clubs throughout the world.

Overnight accommodations at golf and country clubs can also be popular and can be offered in the form of cottages or other separate buildings on the property, along with accommodations in the main clubhouse that are still made available to members.

The cost to add or build new guest rooms in existing buildings can be prohibitive, especially for city clubs and other country clubs with older, traditional buildings. As a result, many of these clubs have focused on upgrading the quality and amenities of their existing rooms and more actively promoting them to their members and reciprocal clubs.

The income potential clubs can gain from room rentals can be very good, with the ability to make a 75% profit margin. This revenue has become especially important for city clubs as they have emerged from the pandemic. But as with all club facilities, it is important that having or adding hotel-like accommodations is done primarily for member convenience and to attract members to join and use private clubs; profit-making should be viewed as a nice additional benefit for the club if it can also be achieved, but not a primary objective.


Seasonal clubs and resorts can attract members from a wider geographical range by having hotel-like accommodations.

Whether clubs in Michigan and Wisconsin that want to attract non-resident members from Chicago, Milwaukee or Detroit; properties in New Hampshire and Maine that can appeal to Bostonians; or even clubs on Long Island that want to be weekend attractions for those who live in and around New York City, overnight and extended-stay facilities can help clubs successfully fill a new and relatively low-maintenance member category without the threat of crowding out full-time members from enjoying full access and use of the club.

Another new twist for providing overnight accommodations is permanent housing on or adjacent to a club property in which members may live or use as second homes, and that creates the potential for new connections for member prospecting. This is already being done at properties such as Westchester Country Club in Harrison, N.Y., in what was the Biltmore Hotel.

Clubs on Long Island also sometimes have guest room suites that they lease to members for the year, and which members redecorate and improve at their own expense. The University Club of Chicago recently connected its building to a new, adjacent 70-story condominium to provide the ultimate in convenience for members who choose to live there. Several Canadian golf clubs are now also studying the development of condominiums on their club properties.

While most clubs would not want to get into the condominium development business, it makes sense for a club to work with a successful condominium developer on a joint project, through which the developer builds the living units and the club provides services to residents who join as members. In this way, the club avoids tax issues and has no liability from the condominium development. An additional challenge clubs could have if they built and sold condominium living units themselves is that they might not want to have all who purchase the units be club members.

Another very successful aspect of having member-living units nearby has been locating elderly care communities near private clubs, with transportation provided for resident members. An especially successful example of this are the Moorings Park communities in Naples, Fla., which have close proximity to the Royal Poinciana Golf Club. This connection has proved to be an excellent way to help retain older club members.

Another notable new development connecting golf clubs and resorts with housing came with the recent announcement of a new partnership between the Nicklaus Companies, the golf course design firm and licensing company founded by Jack Nicklaus, and Rentyl Resorts, a Kissimmee, Fla.based lodging hospitality platform that describes its mission as “[elevating] vacations by blending the comforts of home with the top-notch services of a high-end resort.”

The Nicklaus Companies will enter the single-family residence lodging hospitality sector for the first time and will introduce branded lodging hospitality services to its network of developers, clubs and resorts. The partnership will market “residential resort” services that will offer travelers high-end experiences, including private homes and concierge services, at top destinations around the world. Rentyl Resorts forecasts branding more than 100 high-end residential resort experiences with the Nicklaus Companies during the next five years. According to those in the partnership, the “resort + residential” format will increase residential and golf club revenue streams for developers, expand asset value and profitability, and allow developments to diversify their product and create options to significantly lift asset value. The partners have reported a successful test of the concept at The Bear’s Den Resort in Orlando, Fla., the first Jack Nicklaus-branded resort in the world