Private Clubs Offer First-class Services and Amenities to Members of All Ages

Today’s private clubs offer a diverse menu of amenities, services and programs that satisfy the appetites of their members, regardless of age and interests

Eighteenth-century London introduced the world to private clubs, and their historical reputation—aristocratic, exclusive and strictly for gentlemen—influences our perceptions to this day. But today’s clubs are dramatically different from their long-ago counterparts, evolving with the times and, subsequently, their members’ lifestyles and needs. And while some continue to view these members-only establishments as outdated or impenetrable, the private club is quietly re-emerging as a relevant, familial space where people from all walks of life can convene, connect or escape.
Prestigious and refined, yet targeted to families, Hollyburn Country Club is sprawled across 42 acres in West Vancouver’s picturesque British Properties. The club, which recently underwent a $15-million expansion, is a dream for the athletically oriented, with 25 tennis courts, seven squash courts, swimming pools and a 12,000-square-foot fitness facility. And its massive membership—7,500 total—is proof positive of the club’s relevance and presence within the community. “Hollyburn’s primary goal is to create memorable experiences that members can’t find elsewhere,” says Kathryn Hegger, director of sales and marketing. “And we achieve that in many ways. For example, all of our athletic activities are led by high-calibre instructors who are respected in their field of sport. We also ensure our 350,000-square-foot clubhouse is consistently upgraded to suit our members’ needs.” The latter are regularly asked for feedback so staff can ensure they deliver on the high-level service and professionalism expected from a private club. 
Programming is curated to all age levels, from toddlers to grandparents, and staff adjust programs and services regularly to suit member requests. And with such a wealth of experiences to choose from—figure skating, karate, music and everything in between—it’s no wonder members are spending more and more of their downtime at Hollyburn. “‘I’ll meet you at the club’ is a phrase commonly heard in West Vancouver,” says Hegger. “It’s rare to find a community within a community that supports activities for everyone in the family.” Indeed, as time has become more of a commodity and people’s schedules have grown tighter, Hollyburn Country Club has grown into a go-to venue for meetings, health-related activities and downtime with loved ones. 
Perhaps no establishment in Vancouver better embodies the traditional private club than Terminal City Club. TCC, as it’s fondly referred to among staff and members, claims prime real estate at West Hastings and Howe streets, in the centre of the financial district where the majority of its members work and live. The stylish club is one of Canada’s most coveted, achieving an effortless balance between old-world elegance and multifunctional modernity—but it’s far from old-fashioned.
“The majority of our members are established professionals under the age of 35, many of whom are women,” says Peter Jackman, general manager. “TCC caters to families, high-powered executives and young entrepreneurs. We certainly aren’t an old boys’ network.” Indeed, the club’s eclectic membership is a testament not only to the public’s renewed interest in private clubs, but also to its appeal to a wider demographic. Whatever your view on members-only establishments, there’s a certain cachet attached—it’s cool to belong to a club. And contrary to many clubs that have suffered declining memberships, TCC’s continues to increase year after year, largely because it isn’t like traditional clubs. “The days of exclusivity and starched button-downs are long gone,” explains Jackman. “That’s not going to fly in this city, but it’s a mistake many clubs continue to make. If you don’t evolve, you lose relevance.”
Though Terminal City Club is part of a mixed-use high-rise—in fact, it rents out space to the businesses attached—stepping inside feels like entering an executive’s private playhouse. An expansive foyer and sweeping staircase lead to a four-storey labyrinth of delights, including the penthouse health club, whose rooftop patio features Instagram-worthy views of Vancouver’s harbour. Here, guests can indulge in squash, yoga, a swim-and-sauna and off-the-cuff fitness activities (dodgeball, anyone?). Downstairs, a cozy lounge offers billiards, snooker and, most intriguingly, a wall of liquor lockers installed during Prohibition that members still use. Each of the club’s four restaurants convey a distinct feel, from the Brit-style Lions Pub to upscale 1892 Bistro; the latter is the only restaurant in TCC that adheres to traditional rules forbidding mobile devices or paperwork. 
The digs are luxe, but Jackman says staffing makes all the difference. “Truly impeccable service can’t be trained,” he maintains. “We’re very thoughtful when hiring staff, because the human capital of our club is key.” Indeed, service throughout is thoughtful and personable. Each member is greeted by name. The concierge asks about one man’s family; a server enquires after a young woman’s home renovations. “When you work at a private club, you have the luxury of getting to know your members,” says Jennifer Silver, director of marketing and membership. “We see them all the time. We know how they take their morning lattes. They become part of our family, and each other’s, and it makes our club’s bond stronger.”  
Jackman and his team also recognize that, regardless of tradition, members come from a plugged-in society and carry certain expectations in terms of technological offerings. As such, the entire club is outfitted with wireless technology, and each room features state-of-the-art amenities. “We constantly have to evolve to keep in step with new innovations,” says Jackman. “I’m not saying we’re cutting-edge because we offer wireless Internet. But our members come from a tech world, and they expect the same standards of their home and office to be offered in their club.” Of course, that doesn’t mean TCC has completely dispensed with tradition. “Ninety-seven per cent of our members are anti-phone while in the club,” says Silver. “It feels like an indulgence to enjoy a leisurely lunch without being interrupted by people shouting into their mobiles or texting throughout the meal.”
Despite being a members-only establishment, TCC regularly engages with the community, hosting themed events, galas, fundraisers and awareness campaigns for organizations ranging from St. Paul’s Hospital to local elementary schools. “The CKNW Orphans’ Fund event was really fun, and we raised a record amount for the organization—that felt good,” recalls Jackman. “We’re thrilled to work with community organizations throughout the year because it gives us an opportunity to give back in a meaningful way.” Spoken like a true gentleman.