Lodge Life

“The benefit of the design and attention to detail at The Lodge is that we host a lot of weddings, bar mitzvahs, bat mitzvahs and reunions because the structure is so nice. It feels warm and cozy and its atmosphere is like a Colorado lodge. There’s a great payoff for having invested in that on the front end. For instance, we have slate flooring, which is very easy to maintain,” explains Trautman. “We’re careful how we manage it, and try to run it like a business. We haven’t marketed membership, because we have capacity issues. We have about 3,200 memberships, which equates to about 11,000 people, and if get any more than that we start to get uncomfortable. We try to generate revenue through the rentals and programs so we can support that limited membership base.”

In addition to the natatorium, The Lodge has about 5,400 square feet of fitness, with aerobic and free weight areas, a three-lane track and a 1,750 square foot aerobics room. Trautman says that The Lodge could easily support and justify twice the space and equipment due to the popularity of fitness, which is also stoked by creative fitness programming, such as a fitness boot camp, Buff Brides, youth fitness classes and camps, functional training (which mimics movements people make in their day-to-day lives) and other unique programs culled from both the private and public sectors.

“We put a lot of effort into making sure our guests’ needs were met. We didn’t just go with one fitness center. We put a whole matrix together of criteria we were looking for, and that made a huge difference because they have a wide variety of cardio equipment and three different types of strength equipment to choose from based on the matrix we put together,” says Trautman.

The center also has a large gymnasium, concessions, a wet party room, family changing areas, sauna and steam rooms and various meeting rooms.

Perhaps the most important element in the entire center is its flexibility. Trautman emphasizes that the spaces inside should be able to change at a moment’s notice in order to accommodate all types of activities.

“We don’t have a senior center, or a teen center or a game center. All of our rooms can be turned over and made into anything we want. That’s one thing you need to think about, because if you lock into a certain type of room you can’t really use it for something else,” says Trautman.

Since the entire center includes an outdoor water park, Trautman stresses the importance of understanding the differences between how much different the outdoor and indoor aquatic environments are, and how to manage all the details involved in indoor maintenance, particularly since most parks and recreation agencies are used to running outdoor pools.

“The biggest thing is keeping the building clean. In parks and recreation you typically don’t have that kind of training. It’s probably the biggest building a city will own, and it took awhile to learn how to clean efficiently and to find the right products,” says Trautman. “You have to make sure you have people who understand HVAC, air quality and chemicals. We had a situation with our pump room where the contractors didn’t seal off penetrations, so we had a lot of harsh chemical get in the air and corrode some panels. So it’s very important to really understand the environment in which it operates and make it function correctly. An indoor pool environment is radically different from the rest of your building, and having someone who understands chemicals is very important. Making the assumption that you’ve operated an outdoor pool and can now run an indoor pool isn’t one in the same; they’re very different.”

Equally important, says Trautman, is an open and communicative process from the get-go, all the way to opening day and beyond. Otherwise, a closed system that creates barriers between the city government, the users, parks and recreation, the architect and construction will create unpleasant surprises down the road.

Trautman explains, “There should be no hidden agendas or surprises. A lot of it is the willingness to confront issues when they come at you, instead of ignoring them. For instance, if you have a board member who’s really strong minded, instead of explaining the consequences of a decision you often choose not to, but we have to do the opposite and be open-minded and willing to deal with the difficult things right away. It’s a frustrating process, particularly during construction, but if you keep communication open at least everyone knows about it and what you’re dealing with, and there are no surprises. It’s a whole lot better to deal with the reality of a situation than to pretend it’s not there.”

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