As private clubs were preparing for the season, a madly insane thing happened on the way to the first tee - COVID-19. As a result, general managers and boards had to think fast to continue to provide the level of service and amenities that members have come to expect. Additionally, they were faced with balancing outstanding member service while taking care of their employees during this difficult time. Many employees have been with their club for years and consider the club's members as an extension of their family.
One local community that has thrived during a time of precaution is Berkeley Hall. Led by Adam Kusher, GM, and COO, Berkeley Hall stepped-up and elevated its services. As a result, the overall sentiment of the membership is very upbeat. Members feel highly positive about their club's performance and indicate that the importance of "the Club" in their lives has not been negatively impacted by the pandemic, but rather reinforced.
We had the pleasure of speaking to Adam Kusher. He shared the many ways that their community has evolved to ensure members can experience the best of their club in safe ways.
Mr. Kushner said, “In early March, we made the decision that we were going to be led by our local and state government. We did not want to make any of our own rules, but wanted to keep life at Berkeley Hall as normal as possible.”
Mask-wearing and social distancing rules within the club mirror those of the whole Hilton Head Island and Bluffton community, making it easy for residents to take precautions.
Not only did the club keep life at Berkeley Hall normal, many residents felt that there was no better place to quarantine in these interesting times. One member and resident, Alison Melton, had to say this about her experience in Berkeley Hall during COVID:
"Throughout the craziness this Spring, I realized that the only place in the world I would be happy to be “locked down” in was Berkeley Hall. From the beginning, the staff was amazing in terms of offering to-go dining options, a full commissary with the necessities of fresh meats, bread, wine, and toilet paper, and plenty of outdoor activities that encouraged social distancing. As a family living in the community, we loved every minute of riding our bikes around (and one of us even took off the training wheels!), going for daily walks, and even playing golf together! We also started a new tradition with friends of “Burgers and Bubbles” on the dock down at the River Park on Sunday nights. We’d pick up food from the clubhouse, grab a bottle of champagne and head down to the river to watch the sunset."
With many people in the workforce facing layoffs and furloughs, Berkeley Hall made a decision to pay its staff through the challenges of COVID-19. Kushner said, “We got creative with some positions that were not able to operate due to government restrictions, but we were able to keep everyone working all year.”
Not only did this help their valued employees during dire times, but members benefited from this decision as their community and its amenities were fully supported by a complete staff. Berkeley Hall residents have voiced their thanks for this decision as it has helped them live their day-to-day lives in near normalcy when at the club.
The residents of Berkeley Hall showed their thanks by hanging big red hearts on mailboxes. The hearts were made and distributed on request by a community member to Berkeley Hall residents as a means of acknowledging the employees of the community who were continuing to provide their services during a pandemic.
Charter One Realty agent and Berkeley Hall resident, Wayne Corley, had this to say about the community and the lifestyle.
"It has often been suggested, and even more so during this pandemic, that the residents of Berkeley Hall live in a bubble within a bubble. The larger bubble being Hilton Head Island/Bluffton area with all it offers in amenities, services, and environment. The smaller bubble being all that the Berkeley Hall community has to offer and especially the neighborly support and an exceptional quality of life."
Berkeley Hall resident and Charter One Realty agent Susan Yahn tells us,
"As things opened up, small groups have been the standard. For example, I teach canasta on Mondays and members sign up in advance to make sure tables are appropriately spread apart."
Susan also tells us, "The ambassador program, which I co-chair, made sure that new people moving in had a contact for any questions they had since there were no social events in which to meet other people."
Private clubs have had to be creative in continuing the level of member service that is expected. Granted, many clubs are providing take-out service to the members, but others have gone above and beyond in providing options for members to utilize the club's services. At Berkeley Hall, Kushner and his team implemented a few key tactics during their COVID-19 response. From food and beverage operations to golf and fitness, here are some of the ways they adapted to “new normal”:
ToGo service proved to be very popular throughout the Spring, allowing Members to order from home and have it delivered to their care without ever leaving their car.
The Commissary and Butcher’s Block were great for families looking to grab a few groceries and cook on their own.
Social Events were reintroduced in July and have been very popular because of the safe environment created for Members. They can socialize without feeling uncomfortable.
Golf Operations have been busier than ever thanks to beautiful Spring weather. Members enjoyed having single-rider carts and playing in 3.5 hours on a consistent basis.
The personal trainers have been as busy as ever assisting Members with their physical therapy and general fitness in a safe and clean environment.
Kushner tells us, “We are excited to host all of our Member events as we look toward the Fall. Many of them have been altered in an effort to allow for social distancing, but almost every event has sold out.”
While COVID-19 presents many challenges that constantly evolve, there have been some interesting outcomes. Many of Berkeley Hall’s part-time Members decided to stay on the property all year. This was influenced by COVID-19; the club offers a safe environment with plenty of outdoor amenities in an area of the country that also offers a plethora of socially-distant activities.
The convenience of the Savannah airport only being a ½ hour away makes traveling very easy. Moreover, the business and safety concerns found in big cities have made their decision to stay put in the Lowcountry a no-brainer.
The option of working from home has also increased club traffic and convinced some of the Members to move to Berkeley Hall full-time. Kushner tells us that, “outside of seeing people in masks, life seems so normal” at the club and we can only imagine how reassuring that is for their Members!
Charter One Realty is proud to shine a light on the communities who are stepping up to help their members through this uncertain time. Berkeley Hall Club’s commitment to member satisfaction and employee retention are great examples of how the Lowcountry goes above and beyond.
Has your community pivoted positively during COVID-19? We’d love to feature how your neighborhood is adapting to life during a Pandemic.
Share your thoughts in the comments!