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November 2021

The Resort at Longboat Key Club

Planning Strategically and Measuring Results

By Sally J. Sportsman

Love of travel is a common thread among many golfers. The opportunity to test one’s mettle beckons from a myriad of courses across the country and indeed the world. Resort golf offers a spectrum of beauty and challenge, most often with amenities for families as well as golfers.

The Resort at Longboat Key Club, which opened in 1961 and welcomes guests year-round, is one such destination. Secluded on a barrier island across from Sarasota, Florida, on the Gulf of Mexico, it offers – in addition to golf – tennis, a marina, a fitness center and a range of activities. It spans 410 acres of lush lawns and pristine beachfront with authentic Old Florida boardwalks. The Harbourside Golf Course, which runs along Sarasota Bay, consists of three nines that comprise three distinctive 18-hole options. The 18-hole Links of Longboat Course borders the Gulf of Mexico. The resort, including the golf courses, recently underwent an extensive renovation, with Ron Garl as the golf course architect.

It is interesting to note that only seven percent of the play on the golf courses at The Resort at Longboat Key Club is by resort guests; the rest is by members.

“We would love to grow that amount to 10%,” says Terry O’Hara, director of golf at The Resort at Longboat Key Club, “but some of the bylaws in our island town limit what we are allowed to do.”

Yet resort golf is in consistent demand at this venue, which never closed during the pandemic as it instituted recommended health and safety measures.

While the renovation was strictly due to course conditions, according to O’Hara, the facility’s management team does consult travel data for resort decision making.

“The Resort uses the (STR) Smith and Travel Report,” O’Hara says, “which helps us gauge ourselves with what is going on in our area.”

Developed by the hotel management analytics firm Smith Travel Research, the STR report is a benchmarking tool that compares a hotel's performance against a set of similar hotels. To do this, STR uses anonymized data from a venue’s competitive set, which is a group of hotels chosen by that venue for comparison purposes.

Some of the resort stays at The Resort at Longboat Key Club are by corporate groups.

“Many of our corporate groups like to provide a golf activity event in their stay,” O’Hara says. “Sometimes this is as small as a foursome or as large as a full 128-player golf outing.

“Corporate golf takes up a little more than half of our resort rounds. The corporate golfer is usually the one who is here without their family and has a little more time to play without the family activities going on, but many do return to our island with their families after experiencing the resort and Longboat Key.”

To determine the satisfaction of resort guests during and after their visits, The Resort at Longboat Key Club uses an internal reporting system.

“This helps us gauge how our guests feel about their stay,” says O’Hara. “We also use Trip Advisor and AAA reports to continue to get feedback and always try to improve our guest experience.”

 

 

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