Golf News for Wednesday, February 26, 2014 | Courses

Florida's Bonita Bay Club completes $11.5 million renovation

Bonita Bay Club's "Vision 2013" is now reality, and club members could not be happier. Planning for two years, closing the nearly 30-year old clubhouse for eight months and spending $11.5 million resulted in a new look, a more functional layout, fresh amenities and new members.

The most striking change was the conversion of the golf shop into a 4,700-square-foot open-air bar and casual grill. The 55th Hole - Bonita Bay Club has five 18-hole courses - has glass walls that slide away to let the outdoors in. Glass railings on the surrounding wraparound terrace allow unobstructed views of the green practice range, blue skies and Bonita Bay's mature trees and colorful landscape. Stairs lead to an inviting outdoor seating area where a 14-foot log fire pit - the largest in Florida - is the focal point, helping to make this the best place to relax and watch Bonita Bay's breathtaking sunsets.

The colors of those sunsets provided inspiration for the 55th Hole and the fire pit patio.

"Soft oranges and the dark blue of the sky just as the sun drops behind the horizon guided our color choices," said Migena Gace, ASID, who designed the interiors as part of the architectural team from Peacock and Lewis Architects of North Palm Beach. "Light fluctuations throughout the day and into the evening, and the play of colors and fabrics add vibrancy and visual interest."

The new 55th Hole lounge has proved to be the club members' most popular gathering spot. A 127-inch media wall, built by Beyond Audio Visual of Fort Myers with 18 LED panels, can work as one screen or four. Its pictures, sharper than high-definition, compete for attention with the surrounding outdoors. Eight 60-inch television screens are incorporated into a square, ceiling-mounted wooden structure suspended above the center bar.

The golf shop was relocated to the new 30,000-square-foot Golf Super Center, linked to the clubhouse by an expansive golf cart staging area, graced with pavers, wooden arbors and complementary landscaping. Rocking chairs overlook the driving range from the new building's terrace; underground storage accommodates 240 carts; 2,900 golf bags are organized inside; and the views from the pro shop rival those of the 55th Hole.

The golf shop has expanded inventory, a coffee bar, two televisions and outdoor views through two walls of glass.

The clubhouse renovation impacted every aspect of club-member experience with considerations large - visual transitions were carefully planned from room to room - to small - under-counter technology that keeps salads cold on the buffet table without vats of ice.

"The country club business has changed with a new generation of members who appreciate a more casual, relaxed look," said Gace. "We aimed for a fresh look that is timeless and classic with a modern twist, one that has broad appeal for members old and new."

Gace crafted a balanced color scheme using time-tested berry reds, warm taupes and punches of orange, which she compares to adding a dash of lemon juice to a dish just before serving. Adding further splashes of color throughout the clubhouse are beautiful pieces of abstract artwork.

"They create movement and a fresh, new look and have been well received by club members," said Gace.

Several changes make the clubhouse space more functional and visually appealing. Custom-made banquettes along the wall in the room that adjoins the new lounge look like built-in furniture but are mounted on castors; they can be moved easily to make room for a dance floor.

Steam tables were replaced with a sleek, serpentine stone buffet that was moved to allow the addition of comfortable banquettes along the casual dining room walls. The buffet, equipped with concealed heating and cooling elements, fronts an open production kitchen that makes diners feel part of the action. A distinctive new open-hearth pizza oven is covered with hand-cut red and orange tiles that mimic the flames within. Carpet colors remain consistent from room to room, but the pattern size changes to match the scale of the space. Upholstery adds interest with texture, not color that could compete with the striking carpet design.

The octagonal, glass-walled Ballroom, one of the largest spaces in the clubhouse, has a more elegant look that is more inviting to members. The white ceiling, which had lent an island feel, has been coated with a warm metallic taupe that reflects and changes with the light. The brightly patterned carpet, newly upholstered chairs and fresh artwork create a sophisticated backdrop for celebratory gatherings and special events.

Behind the scenes, the kitchen was totally reconfigured, with better storage and an improved loading dock to increase efficiency and maximize space.