Friday, December 2, 2011

Craig's Crossing - Holiday Cheer

I’m sure there are many extraordinary holiday get-togethers at clubs all over the country. The Christmas party and holiday service at Belle Haven Country Club in Alexandria, Virginia are worthy of mention and provide some interesting ideas for the season.

Steve Danielson will be hosting his 21st of these events next Saturday, December 10th, and has developed it into a “must attend” all-day gala. Any members not out of town or gone south are sure to stop by and while I am not a member it is always one of the highlights of my December. Invitations are email blasted and newsletter announced as well as printed and mailed. The golf staff all wear tuxedos and Steve makes a point of inviting former employees, including a bar-tender who was incredibly well liked and returns to serve holiday cheer to his former and familiar clientele.

The food and drink are unbelievable and spread throughout the shop and entry hall. There is a carving station, steamed shrimp table, etc. but another one of the features that make the event so special is what Steve simply refers to as “Charlie’s deer meat.” Charlie is a teaching Assistant Pro who asked a number of years ago if he could provide venison for the festivities. Steve said at first no one would touch it but over the last few years it is gone within the first hour of the affair.

There is a family dining lounge adjacent to the shop called the Colbert Room where vendors such as FootJoy have traditionally set up their entire line and take special orders from the partying members. This has become such a tradition that many members order their new spring golf shoes for Christmas as gifts to themselves.

Another feature that has become as time-honored as mistletoe is the amazing display of ties and fine men’s gifts set up by Susan Macdonald and Marianne Horen of Macra & Company. Susan is a member at Belle Haven and she and Marianne sell Peter-Blair ties and bow ties as well as dopp kits, luggage, tie cases, wallets and money clips. They are delightful company and their display is incredibly well done, manned completely by them and perfect for this type of event. These ladies can be reached at Entertainment for the day’s festivities varies from year to year and has included impressionists, magicians and a barber shop quartet.

All apparel in the shop is on sale for at least 25% off and there is a 50% sale rack. To say the celebration is a retail success would be an understatement and at the risk of revealing any dollar amounts I will just say that the existing inventory decreases by about 30%. A week after the Christmas bash Steve has an employee sale which is also very well attended and where all aged merchandise is eliminated at break neck prices. Obviously all employees save a good piece of their XMAS shopping for Steve’s sale.

Aside from the business and the customer loyalty that is developed this event has taken on its own identity and endeared the members to the staff providing it. The employees of the club look forward to it as much as the members and everyone truly gets into the holiday spirit, including me.

Another service that Steve provides for the holidays that epitomizes “it’s so simple why didn’t I think of it?” is arranging UPS delivery for members wanting to ship any gifts during the holiday season. Members have come to truly appreciate this service as a holiday time saver on a par with shopping at the club. This is one of those holiday traditions that say all the right things about service and the staff. Steve Danielson and his crew give the Santa nod and wish everyone a “Merry Christmas”.

There are many clubs that will tell you that December is not a great month because their members have so many other holiday commitments. The Belle Haven tact over the years has been more of a "build it and they will come" approach and has become an important one of those commitments.