By Rick Snellinger
Since 1916, The Baton Rouge Country Club has been an esteemed private institution in the heart of Baton Rouge, providing its members with the highest quality of service and the finest recreational and social experiences available.
In 2012, with nearly a century of countless memories, rich history and deep-seated traditions upon which to build, club leadership began evaluating the club’s programs and facilities in order to prepare for the next 100 years of memories and experiences.
Certain areas of the clubhouse, such as the centralized Versailles Ballroom, were reminiscent of a bygone era that celebrated formal evenings of dinners and dancing.
Now, members were looking for a place that welcomed spontaneity and embraced a more casual, unrehearsed way of life. In addition to shifting lifestyle trends and evolving club demographics, the club also faced infrastructural issues, maintenance deficiencies and an inadequate and inefficient kitchen—all of which required attention in order to maintain its reputation as a top tier club in Louisiana.
Chambers conducted a facilities analysis aimed at addressing these issues and further enhancing the member experience. In addition to replacing outdated MEP systems to avoid costly emergency shutdowns, the kitchen was completed gutted and reconfigured into a state-of-the-art facility – a major undertaking and even greater success.
These upgraded food service capabilities are complemented by an enhanced member dining experience that reimagined the Versailles Ballroom to create the new Terrace Room – an adult casual dining space that replaced the central dance floor with a large, circular bar.
The Terrace Room features a variety of dining, bar and lounge seating, as well as large floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the golf course. A new gallery is nestled between the new kitchen and Terrace Room and celebrates the club’s wine program with unique wine display cabinets.
The gallery also features a built-in buffet with permanent induction elements under a granite slab top, providing remarkable convenience and flexibility for the club’s various dining and social events.
The 2014 renovation plans also included expanding the club’s previous outdoor patio to become an expansive covered outdoor terrace, providing members with a shaded area to enjoy the club’s picturesque landscape speckled with lush foliage and live oak trees.
The new terrace also boasts large TVs, overhead fans, and an outdoor kitchen, which creates a unique experience previously unavailable to members. Even in the heat of the Louisiana summer, the new terrace is always full!
“The members are incredibly happy and the Terrace Room’s reputation has expanded far beyond the club’s walls,” said BRCC’s general manager Michael Masson. “It’s the most talked about bar in Louisiana. Everyone wants to be here!”
In the last three years since implementation, BRCC has seen an enormous increase in use – member dining F&B sales alone have increased 31 percent.
“Renovation and investment in member dining has helped bring our stockholding membership back to capacity,” Masson added. And though the Terrace Room’s bar-style atmosphere was originally intended to appeal to the younger generations, the club’s older members simply can’t get enough.
The new space and amenities have created a notably vibrant atmosphere that encourages socialization of members of all ages and enhances the club’s sense of community overall.
Programs like this easily demonstrate what an exciting time it is for the private club industry. Clubs are evolving and reinventing themselves to respond to new generations of members with unique interests and imaginative visions for the future.
As private club planners and designers, we take pride in helping clubs define exactly what that vision is for their specific and diverse memberships so they can provide their members with an unparalleled experience. Above all else, the key to providing such an experience is to take the time to listen to the members and truly understand their needs. The outcome? A triumphant revival that will prepare the club for generations to come. BR
Chambers has worked in the private club industry since 1945. Today, as the largest hospitality design firm in the nation with a singular purpose of working with private clubs, Chambers is a thought leader in the industry dedicated to the advancement of the member experience. President and CEO Rick Snellinger, recently named by Golf Inc. magazine as one of the top 10 individuals shaping the future of private clubs, leads the firm.