If You Build (On) It…

CEO Kevin Boyles discusses the vision for the Calgary Winter Club’s next round of guest-enticing renovations

Calgary Winter Club’s ground breaking in 1959.

There are times when one might question whether the head of a company truly believes in the service that he or she is providing; with Kevin Boyles, there’s no such question. Boyles is the CEO and general manager of the Calgary Winter Club, a premier, private, member-owned club that offers family-friendly athletic and social activities. The reason there’s no doubt is because, before stepping into his current position, Boyles had already been a member of the club for a decade. Here Boyles highlights the numbers behind its latest developments.

5 years of growth

Serving as CEO and general manager for the past five years, Boyles oversees all aspects of the club: ensuring his team members have all the resources they need to succeed, holding accountability for shareholders, and assuring that when members come into the club, they are getting the experience they expect. He works closely with the club’s board of directors to see where the organization is going and how they’re moving forward.

“Like a lot of CEOs, I have that strange dynamic of not being specifically responsible for any one thing in particular while ultimately being accountable for absolutely everything,” Boyles says. “My job is to make sure everybody else has what they need to get their job done; if that doesn’t work out, then it comes to my doorstep.”

95 percent

Boyles has learned much over his run as CEO. One of the main things is learning how to deal with a diverse demographic, and that despite all efforts, it’s sometimes impossible to please everyone all of time. “You have to shoot for [pleasing] 95 percent or better,” he says. “I have learned that you can’t win every situation.”

Boyles is a former Olympian, having competed in the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, Spain. “I have two teenage daughters,” he says. “They’re both playing volleyball right now, so for the last five years, I’ve been coaching their teams. I have a few more years of that to go, and then after that, I’m going to have to try to find a hobby because I’m not sure what I’m going to do with my time.”

6 decades of success

Boyles has also learned that listening to what members have to say can go a long way. “If you’re willing to listen and hear the person’s concerns, you can always move forward in a way that is thoughtful and fair, and leave that member feeling like they were treated well,” he says.

Letting members have their say is part of why the Calgary Winter Club has been open for business for 55 years. The club’s memberships is something that transcends generations of families. Members’ children become shareholders, and their kids end up becoming members, too. It’s an ongoing cycle.

“Once people buy into the vision and want to be here, they are generally here for life,” Boyles says. “The Calgary Winter Club is an amazing community, and we do a good job of providing opportunities throughout the entire spectrum, from infancy right through the seniors.”

Phase 1

The Calgary Winter Club has been successful since 1960, but its staff is always looking to make improvements. Since 2011, there has been ongoing construction. The first phase focused on adding new activities to the club, in turn helping to create more space.

“The first phase of the project was brought to the members under the banner of ‘Something for Everyone,’” Boyles says. “We tried to provide something new for every demographic and activity area in the club, and what that did for us is it addressed some of our key pinch points in places we were having capacity issues. It gave us the space to spread out and enjoy the club at a completely different level than our members have been able to in the past.”

$8 million renovation

In March 2015, the club turned its attention to its second phase of construction. While the first phase focused more on activities, this phase was all about dining and social spaces. Renovations focused on the upstairs restaurant, bar, banquet spaces, kitchen facilities, and a redesign of the main-floor member-services area. The new restaurant features views of downtown Calgary and the mountains.

“If there is one thing that our members have felt was lacking at the club, it was a feature dining space that capitalized on our exceptional views,” Boyles says. “When you’re built in 1960, things can get tired over time, and we had not had a major food-and-beverage renovation for quite a few years. This phase will bring us up to date.”

The $8 million renovation was completed in November 2015.

Phase 3

Looking ahead, Boyles and the club have a third phase of construction in their sights, which will include improved child-care facilities, a spa, a cafeteria expansion, and increased parking. However, after two quickly completed construction phases, the club will take a break before it goes back to work on renovations and construction.

“We moved pretty quickly from phase one to phase two, primarily because we are addressing things that many members wanted done first,” Boyles says. “At this point, we’re going to have a bit of a construction hangover, and I think we are going to have to take a bit of a rest. We’ve felt like we’ve been under construction for four years now, with not much of a break. The break gives us an opportunity to give some thought to what we want to see in that next phase and to make sure that we get it right.”