Guest commentary: Snowmass Club changes aim for ‘broad, but discerning’ membership

Meeting membership’s goals warranted dues increases at Snowmass Club, owner writes

Eric Witmondt
Special to the Snowmass Sun
A man putts on the practice green outside of The Snowmass Clubhouse in Snowmass Village on Tuesday, July 27, 2021. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)

When we purchased The Snowmass Club in December 2018, we immediately conducted surveys and focus groups with the members and staff to determine what improvements would make the club more enjoyable for our membership. As club owners and operators, we fully understand that we are in the hospitality business and compete every day to retain and attract new members. This is especially evident in an environment like Aspen-Snowmass where there are so many options from which potential members can choose.

Our survey and focus group results revealed that there were six primary areas that the membership wanted us to address:

1. Bringing The Snowmass Club back to its private roots so the members could now establish a true club community and derive even greater value from their initiation and membership dues. Overwhelmingly, the members we surveyed said that they did not want outside daily use of the facilities, including dining, tennis, pool, golf, spa, athletics, etc.

2. Renovation of Black Saddle with full lunch and dinner service, as well as outside dining and music/entertainment.

3. Renovation of Three Peaks (formerly Sage) and our entry lobby to upgrade the sense of arrival and provide a vastly improved lobby, bar and dining experience.

4. Renovation of the Athletic Club and Spa, including many new offerings, i.e: new exercise equipment, a state of the art spin studio, a Pilates studio, new lockers, as well as wet and lounge areas.

5. Substantial improvements to the golf course, including both physical changes to the course, an overall improvement of the condition of the golf course and an overhaul of the irrigation controllers and pump station.

6. Stronger and more involved leadership by ownership and management keenly focused on (i) providing a higher level of service and (ii) further engaging club members in order to cultivate a strong sense of community.

We are proud that, despite the challenges of the pandemic these past 15 months, we are opening the new athletic and spa facilities Aug. 6. Upon completion, we will have invested more than $8 million in capital improvements into the Club over the past 18 months. Please note that, unlike member-owned clubs that levy both capital and operating assessments, the ownership of the Snowmass Club fully funded these improvements. Further, we will have accomplished all six primary goals that the membership initially outlined two years ago. This achievement is, in large part, due to the hard work of our outstanding staff; the contractors that have committed themselves to these projects during very, very difficult times; Snowmass Village, which has been very supportive and cooperative during our construction; and, most importantly, to our members who continue to support the club.

The overwhelming response from the members has been very supportive and appreciative of all of the changes we have made to the club. The members were especially complimentary of how we prioritized keeping our members and staff safe while operating during the pandemic. An early indication of our success is that we have added 125 new members over the past 18 months, many of which were referrals from existing members.

In our opinion, it is a privilege to belong to any club, including The Snowmass Club. As owners and operators of numerous established and successful clubs across the country, we understand how important it is to listen to and address member needs and wishes in this highly competitive environment. Our new model, that of a private club offering superior facilities and a higher level of service (which are vastly different than the previous ownership group), warrants a higher membership fee than what was previously offered.

To be successful, we must deliver a “best in class” product and service to our membership at a commensurate price point to ensure they derive meaningful value for their entertainment dollars. The new Snowmass Club will not be right for everyone, but for those who want an exceptional club experience, we believe the improvements we have made and the environment that we have created at The Snowmass Club appeal to a broad but discerning membership base. We are very excited about what the future holds for The Snowmass Club, and we look forward to continuing to provide a wonderful membership experience.

Eric Witmondt

Co-owner and Managing Partner, The Snowmass Club