Experts from independent golf resorts share how they manage golf course upkeep and cater to groups of all sizes.
REPORT FROM THE U.S.—Operating an independent golf resort versus a branded one gives hoteliers the opportunity to be creative in their decision-making to create memorable experiences for guests, sources said.
At The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Colorado, the resort welcomes corporate guests, individuals and members who are there to use its golf courses and enjoy the resort’s other amenities, whether for leisure or business trips, Shane Miller, tournaments and events manager at The Broadmoor Golf Club, said via email.
The resort gets a good mix of large and small groups who tie golf into the experience, he said, and hosts groups ranging from 16 to 200 people in size.
“A lot of corporate groups will typically have meetings every day, and set aside one afternoon for a very large tournament with a reception and dinner afterwards,” Miller said. “We do have numerous options for package deals for day guests such as a stay-and-play package that allow golfers to book their room and golf at a discounted rate.”
Reunion Resort & Golf Club in Kissimmee, Florida, is another property that sees a good mix in group sizes, Kevin Baker, corporate director of golf, said via email.
“We see all kinds of groups ranging from foursomes to groups of 600,” he said. “A majority range between 12 and 20 people.”
The resort markets to small golf groups in Northeast United States and Europe, Baker said.
“Throughout the year, many of our golf groups come from our 1,600 club members, which is essential for sustaining our revenue and courses during the slower months,” he said.
Peak season at the resort runs from 15 January to 15 April, he said.
Golf course upkeep
All golf operations are managed in house, and the resort has a full team that works on the courses year-round, Miller said.
“(The team does) a phenomenal job keeping everything including the resort looking its finest,” he said. “We have a greenhouse on-property where we grow the plants before we put them in the ground around the hotel, and we are always blowing off our sidewalks and raking leaves to keep the conditions looking fantastic.”
The resort has separate teams to take care of golf course grounds and resort grounds, but both teams work year-round, Miller said.
“They are the ones that shovel snow off of the paths in the winter and put salt down around the hotel,” he said. “Our golf course grounds team usually mows the fairways and rough every day during the busy season, they will trim trees on the course, they will rake the bunkers every single morning, and we close the course two times a year for a week at a time for them to aerify the greens and fairways.”
Reunion is run by an owner-operator, so “all services are done in-house including landscaping, housekeeping, common area cleanings and golf course maintenance,” Baker said.
“We have a staff of 40 who maintain over 300 acres of turf,” he added.
Indie vs branded
When asked if he sees any challenges to operating an independent golf course that a branded might not have, Miller said he doesn’t really see any.
“We pride ourselves in our guest satisfaction and happiness, and we don’t have those direct deadlines on the money side of things to meet,” he said. “We have the ability to be creative in our decision-making and our advertising as an independent hotel.”
Baker said Reunion mostly sees benefits from operating a golf resort as an independent.
“Owner-operator is excellent for a resort of this size—decisions can be made quickly to adapt to the changing climate of the business,” he said. “If something needs to get fixed, it’s not months, but days, sometimes hours.”
Hotel News Now reached out both properties for comment on business impact seen from the COVID-19 outbreak.
The Broadmoor declined to comment on it, but the property’s website provides a statement:
“Due to the reality of COVID-19 and the need to self-separate our guests, employees and community from what's commonly called the coronavirus, The Broadmoor will temporarily cease all operations on Saturday 21 March at noon. At this time we anticipate to reopen for the Memorial Day weekend.
“The Broadmoor's leadership felt it was important to cease all operations out of an abundance of caution for the safety of everyone. The resort has had no cases or confirmation of any guests or employees testing positive for COVID-19. We all regret this unfortunate situation and thank you for understanding.”
Below is a statement from Reunion GM Anthony Carll:
“The health and safety of our guests is our top priority during this time, and we are taking the recommended precautions to protect our resort guests, club members and team members.
“Reunion Resort remains open and welcomes guests to enjoy our spacious accommodations, championship golf courses and other outdoor activities. Families are enjoying the time outside playing golf, FootGolf and tennis while following the government guidelines of 10 people or less.
“As we closely monitor the COVID-19 situation, we will continue to implement additional measures as provided by trusted sources such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization.”
Read more from the property on policies around COVID-19 here.