by Kaylee Hultgren | January 01, 2008

King Kamehameha Clubhouse

At one point planned as a home
for Arthur Miller and Marilyn
the King Kamehameha
now hosts golfers in Maui.

Like the elegant resorts they are designed to complement, golf clubhouses increasingly are upgrading their meeting facilities to attract groups, albeit on a slightly smaller scale. Here’s a look at some new and renovated facilities, whose revamped living rooms, dining rooms and lounge areas offer a cozy on-site alternative to ballroom grandeur.

King Kamehameha Golf Club
Maui, Hawaii

The distinctive King Kamehameha Clubhouse has its genesis in a design created in 1949 by celebrated American architect Frank Lloyd Wright, who envisioned a 7,000-square-foot luxury home to be built in Fort Worth, Texas. The plans were reworked in 1957 with an eye to occupancy by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Arthur Miller and his new wife, actress Marilyn Monroe, but that arrangement never materialized, and upon Wright’s death in 1959, the project went into limbo.

Finally, in 1988, the plans were purchased from the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, and a larger version -- about 10 times the size of the original -- materialized as the 74,000-square-foot clubhouse a few years later. Yet due to an economic downturn, the resort closed in 1999 and remained shut for nearly six years.

Today’s owners purchased the property in 2004 and began an 18-month renovation of the course’s wildly overgrown acreage. By May 2006, the clubhouse banquet facilities, including a central ballroom seating 325, a more intimate space for 100 and a boardroom for 30, were completely refurbished.

The facility showcases a handsome collection of local art, including a 6-by-4-foot feather cape crafted by Jo-Anne Kahanamoku-Sterling, Hawaii’s top featherwork artist, and 11 kapas, or blankets, fashioned from beaten mulberry bark. The building itself evokes its close brush with celebrity greatness by its nickname -- the Marilyn House.

Carmel Valley Ranch
Warm touches:
Carmel Valley Ranch
Carmel, Calif.

The 400 acres of the 144-suite Carmel Valley Ranch, home to an 18-hole, Pete Dye-designed golf course, are in the midst of a major redesign. The resort’s clubhouse, including its restaurant, is one of the first upgrades of the project to surface.

“The old building had great bone structure,” explains a spokesperson for the resort. “Designer Ina Johnson followed the original footprint by keeping the design natural and organic.” The use of face-cut woods, leather upholstery and a warm color palette is meant to mimic materials and textures found in nature, while plasma screen TVs and custom-designed Italian furniture give the space a modern spin.

The clubhouse restaurant, lobby and bar area (now with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the fairways) all have enjoyed a makeover.

The final stages of the resortwide revamp, which should finish by year’s end, will touch all guest suites, meeting space and exteriors.

Kiawah Island Golf Resort
Charleston, S.C.

Kiawah’s Ocean Course clubhouse, open to the public since last August, does not bear the name of the resort’s 225-room main structure, The Sanctuary. Yet, given the clubhouse’s quaint, simplistic design (e.g., a low, shingled roof; a wide, wraparound porch), the appellation would be fitting. The new $20 million property, set upon a 10-mile-long low-country island, resembles a coastal cottage and features panoramic views of the Atlantic. On-site are a fine-dining restaurant, 3,000 square feet of flexible meeting space and an outdoor veranda.

Kiawah Island Golf Resort offers 18,000 square feet of function space, including the freestanding East Beach Conference Center, the Governor’s Hall, (which holds 800) and five divisible meeting rooms. Also on property are the Turtle and Osprey Point clubhouses, with their own meeting facilities. A spa, five championship golf courses, nine restaurants and two tennis complexes are present on the island, with downtown Charleston just 21 miles away.

The Grand Golf Club
Fairer still:
The Grand Golf Club
Grand Del Mar
San Diego, Calif.

At the Grand Del Mar resort, the Tom Fazio-designed fairways of the Grand Golf Club wind through 4,100 acres of Los Peasquitos Canyon Preserve and are crowned by an expansive 50,000-square-foot clubhouse. The Spanish Revival design was inspired by resort architect Addison Mizner, best known for pioneering the 1920s transformation of Boca Raton, Fla., into a Mediterranean-style resort community. Both the 18-hole course and the clubhouse debuted in September 2006, followed by the 249-room resort, which opened this past October.

Event space at the clubhouse includes a 10-person boardroom and a private dining area within Addison, a fine-dining restaurant. This 2,400-square-foot space can host groups of up to 48, while a chef’s table seats 12. Larger groups can enjoy the main resort’s offerings, including a 10,000-square-foot ballroom.