World class venues, however different the main draw might be, often have a commonality. They attract a wide audience of guests to visit their properties, and they indirectly encourage those guests to stay for long periods based upon the layout of their spaces. Think of iconic mountain sports resorts like St. Moritz in the Swiss Alps, or Whistler in the Canadian Rockies – they have a variety of resort like amenities to accompany the action on the snow in the winter and the trails in the summer. Even famous golf courses are increasingly partnering with luxury hotels brands to offer all-inclusive resort experiences, like Cancun’s Moon Palace or within the Biltmore’s Hotel Chain. Most notably, companies like Top Golf, Atlantis Resorts, and even Disney, have all proven their ability to attract and retain a huge range of guest demographics.
Although relatively new on the scene, surf pools have the same amount of potential as the types of venues listed above when it comes to designing amazing properties that are unlike any other. What’s cool is that a surf park fits within a wide range of development types, which is developers are rushing to start their development plans often with surf pools at the center of it all. All that said, venue design is without a doubt an art form… or maybe a science (we’ll leave that up to you to decide). From the placement of amenities to architectural style, there is a TON of expertise that goes into designing world-class venues that people return to time and time again.
360 Degrees of Entertainment
The first step in the guest journey is attraction, and with people generally attending venues in groups, there will be a wide range of interests to accommodate. Therefore, a well-rounded venue that can attract both surfers and non-surfers is essential. When picking and placing a surf pool, we’d suggest taking into consideration how well you can build around the waves to offer 360 degrees of entertainment value to customers.
Each venue should have its own vibe, but well-designed venues share three components:
The pinnacle of surf parks lies at the peak of the wave. After all, it is called a surf park. That’s not to say that an existing venue with another main attraction can’t add in a wave pool. But when you do so, you will ultimately attract surfers, and surfers want a world-class wave to surf. Let’s make this clear – yes, the surrounding amenities are important, however the surf pool is critical to surf park’s success and should offer world-class waves, have flexibility to adapt to capacity and skill-levels, and be environmentally conscious to the best of its ability.
The surf experience isn’t complete without the beach, or at least a place to for people to relax after a long session with their crew, recount their waves, and enjoy their beverage of choice. The beach keeps the parents relaxed and gives the kids space to play all while watching the waves.
No surf venue would be complete without a boardwalk to cruise when the entire gang is surfed out. Ideally filled with retail and food & beverage, guests can refuel after a leg burning session and stock up on new surf gear. At Endless Surf, we designed our pool with 360 degrees of boardwalk development potential in mind because these add-ons increase length of stay, providing lifestyle amenities for both the surfer and non-surfer, alike. These retail and F&B opportunities also happen to drive up revenue for the venue, which is important for your bottom line.
Increasing Length of Stay
With the right wave technology and surf experience on tap, a surfer will surely feel surfed out after their session. But, that doesn’t mean they have to leave. If a venue is designed with intention, then surfers can feel confident in bringing their significant others, greater families, and friends who may not surf, but will be willing to hangout for an extended period of time on the premise. There are so many aspects of a venue that can increase length of stay, but here’s a few areas that we feel are very important:
Community and Lifestyle
One of the main aspects of authentic surf culture is sharing the surf experience with community. Yes, a world-class wave is key, but creating spaces for surfers and friends to gather and share the stoke is just as important. Whether the local crowd can hang out and sip coffee following the weekday morning session, or the whole class can hit the skatepark, pump track, or float down a lazy river on a summer weekend, spending time together helps build those authentic experiences.
Surfers are not only competitive, but also love watching other surfers perform. With surf parks developments on the rise, that means new surf destinations, new enclaves of surf communities and styles, and ultimately new arenas for surf competitions! A thoughtfully designed venue plays a major part in attracting people to watch spectacular surfing from viewing areas and the beach, and hangout for the after party. Finally, good venue design will consider sightlines, especially for video because media rights and sponsorship will also drive revenue options.
Audience Mix and Family Appeal
Regarding audience mix and family appeal, the surrounding amenities will dictate what mix of customers will be present at any given time. Other active lifestyle activities like rock climbing, golf, or a gym will attract those beyond surfers. Craft food and beverage will encourage people to stay late into the evening, and even a coffee shop with inviting spaces to work will attract people on weekday mornings. Catering to families is also extremely important. For surf parks, this means offering surf schools and ensuring that there is always a wave breaking for beginners and kids. In addition, even things like waterslides, and play structures, can ensure the smaller kids stay happy, allowing the parents to relax.
Lastly, the overall design and aesthetic of a surf park and its architecture and equipment indirectly plays a role in keeping guests around. After all, the beach and the ocean are incredible places, and surfers are attuned to that natural beauty. In addition to bringing the natural environment into designs, having a technology that is out of sight and that offers a naturalistic shape will amplify the guest experience in amazing ways. Increasingly, guests are spending sustainably so demonstrating your environmental credentials is also an important design consideration. (Check out this Endless Surf project in Australia that highlights a sustainable design)
Spaces that never go out of style
So, what’s the verdict? Is venue design an art or a science? Either way, the good news is that with surf at the center of a venue, we’re confident that the art will stand the test of time, or the scientific theory will prove to be true. Surf is only growing… and rapidly. Bringing consistent waves to new destinations means providing more people with those addictive surf experiences that last for lifetimes. Once surfers start surfing, they never stop. This means surfing extends throughout generations, so why not create a surf venue that never goes out of style?
Ready to design your dream surf destination?
With over 40 years of experience designing globally recognized venue spaces for some of the world’s most iconic brands, we’ve got your back when it comes to creating a surf park with style.
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