The emergence of Woodbury Park as a major sport and leisure destination from functional golf club has accelerated with the unveiling of new and refurbished facilities across the picturesque rural site.
Under its strategy of extending the family offering at the Devon estate, owner and operator The Club Company has opened a spa and crèche and redeveloped the health club changing rooms.
Since the leading operator bought Woodbury Park in November 2016 it has surged forward with the expansion of member facilities. The latest provision builds on the popularity of the 18 and 9-hole parkland courses, while allowing Woodbury Park to become a major destination for spa and golf breaks within the East Devon and Exeter catchment, capitalising on its position within moors and heathland designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Bespoke furniture manufacturer and installer Crown Sports Lockers fitted the original golf club changing rooms at Woodbury Park in the 1990s. But the preferred supplier has extended the depth of its involvement with the operator by providing a wider scope of provision than on earlier fitouts.
Its latest work not only includes upgrading those dry facilities and fitting crèche furniture but also delivering washroom provision including vanities, shower and toilet cubicles in member and visitor areas.
Children’s facilities have been part of the membership mix in The Club Company’s venues since 1999, when it opened the first crèche at Castle Royle Golf & Country Club.
Crown’s customised crèche fitout was no child’s play, embracing wet play counter with vanity, reception desk, toilets and cubicles in oak, Egger driftwood finish and yellow doors.
Following his first meeting with Crown’s project manager Spencer Grimwood, The Club Company’s counterpart Mark Warne finalised fitout specifications and timescales under a seamless switchover from old to new provision.
“Funny but I had not realised that Crown could provide the complete job,” reveals Mark, who has worked with the supplier since joining The Club Company in 1996.
“Now I do, it saves me going to a specialist joinery company – bringing the whole job under one roof saves me a fair deal of money and I know they will deliver top-end quality and finishes throughout, with little if any snagging.
“Crown are amenable, accommodating and professional, manufacturing and fitting on time and within budget,” he adds.
Perhaps surprisingly, given the rising popularity of electronic locking in leisure, Woodbury Park operates with £1 coins throughout. “All our sites do,” states Mark. “It’s a far simpler system, with none of the card membership issues RFID locking can raise.”
The Club Company bought Woodbury Park in November 2016, complete with 56-bed hotel and a small gym. “We saw it as a great opportunity to increase membership and to integrate golf and the health club instead of them being run independently,” Mark explains.
The plan, developed with architects Joseph & Partners and managed by main contractor J M Scully, was to enlarge the changing rooms, “which were small for an estate of this size”, remove the remaining squash court and install an adult spa area, sauna, steam and Hydrapool.
The gym has been refreshed with state-of-the-art equipment and a spin studio installed in an extended area of the building, while introducing the crèche to allow the club to accommodate families.
“Every element of provision was kept open during the project,” says Mark, “with phased opening of the various elements phased between the end of March and mid-May.”
Among other sites, Crown recently completed work at Castle Royle Golf & Country Club near Reading, refreshing the health club’s female changing rooms with new locker doors and vanities – completing the project to a tight six-day schedule at a bustling venue that stays open all year round.
“We sectioned off the men’s changing rooms to accommodate female members while theirs was being upgraded,” Mark explains.
Founded in 1995, The Club Company now owns 13 UK golf club and leisure sites, lately purchasing Wharton Park in December 2015 and Witney Lakes Resort in May 2017, as well as Woodbury Park, once owned by Formula 1 World Champion Nigel Mansell.
The Club Company has lifted four Operator of Year awards under fitness trade body UKActive’s annual Flame Awards, many of its sites also clinching Club of the Year accolades in various categories.
Its wellness concept is focused on achieving results, and the first step in joining any of its clubs is to “identify each member’s realistic goals and set a personalised training programme”, the operator’s website states.
Championship golf courses across the portfolio offer “a variety of challenges for all level of golfers”; the operator promoting competitive play in monthly medals and knockout tournaments, and staging social golf events including fun competitions and informal roll-up afternoons and evenings.
Golf membership includes reciprocal access to all golf courses in the group (excluding Castle Royle) and complimentary access to health and fitness, with discounted family membership rates.
Commenting on The Club Company’s plan for change, Mark concludes: “We are well ahead of where we wanted to be 13 months ago.”