BCC embraces change

After the better part of a decade constructing an updated course and clubhouse, the management team at the Barrie Country Club (BCC) is looking for other ways to improve this nearly 100-year-old facility. Throughout last year, members, their guests and tournament participants enjoyed the new state-of-the-art clubhouse that opened November 2007. “The building has met everyone’s expectations,” says BCC general manager John Peters. “The members are proud of it and very actively using it, and the community has certainly embraced it. “It’s the place to hold an event in Barrie right now.” But Peters isn’t content to coast on the hard work that’s been done to date. “We have a couple of major projects on the books for this fall,” he reports, referring to the planned reconstruction of the sixth and seventh greens. “We had our golf architect Graham Cooke here today to review the projects.” An earlier assessment of the area suggested changes were in order. “The grade is higher than is deemed to be fair under current standards,” explains Peters. “So, we’re going to modify the playing surface to ensure that they’re fair. “(The change) also allows us more variety of pin placements.” There are a number of other smaller projects, involving tee decks and overall course conditioning, that will also be tackled, he adds. Otherwise, Peters says he’ll be working on letting everyone know about this great facility at the edge of Barrie. There are a few membership spots still available for purchase, he says, but the current roster is almost at capacity. Despite the current economic woes, approximately 600 of the available 620 spots are occupied. “We haven’t lost more members this year than in any other year,” he says. An associate membership program was introduced in 2007 allowing interested prospects to “try on” a full membership for a year before signing on for good. Peters says the initiative has had a good conversion rate. “If the lifestyle fits, they’re quite happy to commit long term,” he confirms. To provide extra value to members and offer them alternative golf experiences, the BCC has entered into reciprocal contracts with other private clubs in Ontario. In addition to golf memberships, the BCC also offers affordable social memberships that focus on the non-golf benefits of the club. Even so, it does include limited course privileges. Corporate golf memberships are the other option. Companies can designate two individuals for membership (and those two named members may be changed when necessary for a nominal fee). As a bonus, corporate members can also choose from three additional packages. Options include a spousal social memberships; a junior membership plus five guest passes; or five guest passes, a private lesson and 10 free cart passes. Peters says there has been interest in the BCC shown from Toronto residents seeking retirement communities that mirror services they currently enjoy. BCC members have the option of unlimited play in their area when the Barrie club is hosting the Ontario Professional Golf Association championships every year. “We’ve done it for the past six years,” says Peters. “It’s a big competitive event.” During the two-day tournament, BCC members can enjoy reciprocal privileges all over the province. It’s also two days when the public is invited into the Barrie facility to watch the competition. Corporate and charity tournaments through the year (on Mondays only) are another way non-members have a chance to play the BCC course. Wedding and banquet guests have the opportunity to view the grounds from the lofty balcony that provides an expansive view of the entire area while they enjoy all the services the new clubhouse has to offer. To find out more about everything at the BCC, visit www.barriecountryclub.com.


Hampton by Hilton in Barrie

Living up to its image as the epitome in unique luxury, a Hilton hotel has arrived in Barrie with an anticipation that had potential guests clamouring for reservations weeks before the facility actually opened. Located on Bryne Drive opposite the new Lowe’s Home Improvement Warehouse, the Hampton Inn & Suites by Hilton dominates a prominent hilltop offering its guests a view of lush forests in the back or a bird’s eye-view of the city out front with Kempenfelt Bay beyond. From the moment guests approach the drive-through portico, they are in Hilton-land. Welcoming travel-themed music entertains while suitcases are unloaded and makes the transition to the interior environment virtually seamless. While checking in, guests are introduced to the unusual vow given by their hosts. “We not only provide you with a great stay at a great value, we take it a step further with our unconditional 100 per cent satisfaction guarantee,” states the company policy, offered in writing. “It’s simple. We offer friendly service, clean rooms, comfortable surroundings every time. If you’re not satisfied, we don’t expect you to pay. That’s our commitment and your guarantee.” For local resident and hospitality veteran Charlene Grenier, who was hired last fall as the new hotel’s sales and marketing director, the promise is a daunting but exciting challenge. “Things go wrong all the time (in this business),” she laughs. “But we can’t let them. It’s our commitment to good service.” From the outset, the décor suggests the different approach that is taken here. Oversize black and white photographs grace the walls of the lounge. A large-screen television set, perpetually available coffee and tea, and comfortable sofas invite guests to linger in the common area long after the complimentary hot breakfast buffet, with four rotating menus, has been cleared away. The hotel, which opened at the end of February, takes pains to distinguish itself from a generic experience. Hallway carpeting shatters expectations with a recurring design of large blue blossoms running along one wall, while a complimentary diamond gradient lines the other. Patterns and tone used in guest-room furniture and wallpaper are equally unique, providing a homier-than-average atmosphere. “The colour-scheme throughout is non-traditional,” says Grenier. “It’s vibrant and playful.” The little touches all add up to an overall difference. Distinctive room signs, for example, spark memories even while suggesting a world of possibilities. From hay bales and horseshoes, to a paddle wheel and picnic, the tiny monochromatic images offer a gallery of delights before guests ever pass over the marble thresholds into their rooms. Exclusively designed pillow-top mattresses and luxurious linens await in all 104 guest rooms, from the king suites to the more traditional. Additionally, all have access to high-speed wireless internet and a host of in-room amenities like hair dryers, coffee makers and easy-to-use clock radios. The suites feature microwaves and fridges as well. The hotel also offers a recreational indoor salt-water pool, whirlpool and large fitness centre. Business travellers can use the computers, printer and photocopier in the first-floor business centre, and take advantage of the Printer-On print-valet service 24-hours a day. “Say it’s 2 o’clock in the morning, you’re working on your laptop and you want to print something,” Grenier says. “You can just send the document to print and pick it up in the morning.” For corporate conferences and other special events, the Hampton Inn has five meeting rooms to choose from. Together, the Opal and Topaz rooms can accommodate up to 75 people, while the nearby Ruby and Emerald rooms can be used in combination as break-out or reception rooms, or as stand-alone function spaces. The good-things-come-in-small-packages Diamond boardroom features a fixed table that seats 12. State-of-the-art audio-visual equipment can also be arranged. “I love that they are all named after jewels,” Grenier smiles. “They all have floor-ceiling windows with lots of natural lighting.” Working in partnership with the local food-services firm Executive Catering, Grenier and her team can assist with all aspects of event planning including full-service catering. Having worked the first four months for the hotel off-site, she’s thrilled to see the construction phase come to an end. She and the rest of the experienced 25-employee team moved into the new facility only a few weeks prior to opening. “It’s hard to not work out of a hotel when you’re in the hotel business,” says the ever-cheerful Grenier. “We’re all just really excited – finally a Hilton property in Barrie! We’ve got a lot of group business already on the books.” For more information, call Grenier directly at 705-719-9666, extension 6002, or visit www.HamptonInnBarrie.com.


Masons offer child ID kit at Honey Fest

The Masonic Lodge in Beeton is providing parents with a powerful tool for police to help find a child if he or she goes missing. The Spry Lodge is producing child identification kits at the Beeton Honey Festival May 23. The kits are free of charge and will give parents with a lot of what they need to provide to police if a child goes missing. "The idea is that it is an immediate response. The first two to four hours of a child’s disappearance is critical," said Colin Thain from the Spry Lodge. The free kit includes ID cards and CD-ROMs containing a physical description of the child, still photos, video and audio voice samplers. A dental plate and cheek swab are also taken. Thain said the package, which is called MasoniCh.I.P., is given to the parents and that the Masonic Lodge and the police do not retain any of the information. It is up to the parents to make it available if their child is reported missing. Thain said the lodge hopes to run about 200 to 250 children through the program this summer. He said that because children’s features, looks and voices are always changing, the lodge would like to make it an annual event. Because the event is free, the lodge is currently fundraising to help pay for the service. It is looking for corporate sponsors. The ID kits will be available May 23 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the corner of Main Street and Centre Street. For more information sponsorship opportunities call Thain at 905-729-4437 or Terry Anderson at 905-729-4825.


Over 2,800 attend successful home show

From flooring to fitness, and landscaping to laser therapy, more than 100 diverse vendors displayed their products and services during the successful New Tecumseth Home, Health and Leisure Show. An estimated 2,800 visitors attended the 41st annual event, which was held for the second time at the New Tecumseth Recreational Complex on Industrial Parkway in Alliston. The show was hosted by the Alliston and District Chamber of Commerce. "Wow, what a great home show," said ADCC president Michael Keith. "Every year the show gets bigger and better. On behalf of the Board of Directors of the Alliston and District Chamber of Commerce, I give my sincere thanks to all the exhibitors for participating in the show." The Shop Locally theme is a priority for the ADCC, Keith confirms, and was evident in this year’s show with the strong show of area businesses. The planning committee invited vendors to do more than show up though, they also encouraged them to show off. Based on effectiveness, signage, presentation and creativity, a group of impartial judges awarded the Best Booth Award to the Alliston Home Building Centre for the second year in a row. Alliston Home Building Centre also took home bragging rights for the Greenest Booth, a new award this year that came with a bushy prize from RPN Trees. Picking the winner of the Best Booth and the Greenest Booth was challenging for the judges. All of the vendors who participated did a fantastic job of putting together their booths. With a well-organized and visually appealing booth comprised entirely of environmentally friendly products and services, as well as a ‘Kiddies’ Korner’ to entertain children at the show, the friendly staff of the Alliston Home Building Centre took home both awards. Children attending the show were also entertained by fan favourite clown Smoothie (Don Gates), and by the Ontario Early Years Centre staff, who displayed information for parents and set up a play area for youngsters. The big winner of the weekend, however, was Alliston resident Elaine Tindal who won the grand prize raffle, worth more than $2,000 that was tied into the show’s "green" theme this year. Among the environmentally friendly products she took home were a collection of Energy Star-rated appliances including a ceiling fan, dehumidifier, air purifier, and water cooler. She also received a low-flush toilet, a push lawn mower, a hot water tank jacket, CFL light bulbs, compostable bags, outdoor clothesline kit, yard waste bags, a bucket of eco-friendly cleaning products, and more. Tindal was thrilled, saying she could use everything she had just won. But no one went home empty handed. All attendees were provided with a complimentary re-usable green shopping bag from Sobeys. Volunteers from the Stevenson Memorial Hospital Foundation handed out the bags while welcoming guests and goodwill donations. A total of $2,836.75 was raised for the foundation. The Rotary Club of Alliston presided over the money booth attraction this year where visitors could try to capture air-borne "money" to win prizes. By charging a toonie per try, the club raised a further $300 for the hospital. ADCC president Keith acknowledges the entire team that made the weekend possible, including Encore TeleSolutions, the 24-hour tele-reception service that sponsored the show hotline in the months leading up to the event. "Our congratulations to the show committee for making it such a successful event," said Keith, who added, "a personal thank you to John and Joan McFarland for co-chairing the home show committee. "Another thank you goes out to all the volunteers who worked so hard, and to the staff of the recreation complex who were invaluable." The committee is already planning a meeting to set the foundation for an even better show in 2010.