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East County Sunday, Jul. 28, 2019 1 month ago

New general manager brings his 'Simple' tasks to the Grande Clubhouse in Lakewood Ranch

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Longtime hospitality industry executive takes over at the Grande Clubhouse in the Lake Club
by: Jay Heater Managing Editor

With 31 years in the hospitality industry, Brad Jeffers knows his new job as general manager at the Lake Club's Grande Clubhouse will include one significant change from the hotels, clubs and resorts he has managed.

"The difference is a homeowner doesn't check out," said Jeffers, who moved from Eagle, Colo., to take his post July 8.

So Jeffers will balance his philosophy of providing a great experience on a daily basis with introducing interesting activities and lifestyle programs to keep things from getting stale.

He knows he has the raw materials to get the job done. 

Last October, the Lake Club reopened its 20,000-square-foot clubhouse following a $4 million renovation that included an expanded kitchen, new concierge services, new exercise and spa facilities, and interior upgrades that included Calcutta porcelain accents and handblown glass fixtures.

When Jeffers drove up to the doors for the first time, he knew he had landed in a special place.

"I was very impressed," he said about that first visit. "It was impressive, inviting, captivating."

But now he has the job of making the Lake Club residents feel the same way.

That starts when they walk through the door.

"It's about the simple things," he said. "I know, as a guest, it bugs me when I got somewhere and I have to speak to someone before they finally will greet me."

Next, he said, choosing the right words is important for the club's employees.

For example, he said no one wants to be told what to do. He noted, "you can say, 'Would it be OK if ...' There are some words and phrases you don't want to say."

Then it comes down to listening.

"You need to engage with your guests or homeowners," he said. "Listening is important and I've been told I'm a good listener. You hear what they would like to see. You don't make changes just for the sake of change."

Part of the feedback he received when he first arrived was that the homeowners liked many of the staff members at the Grande Clubhouse and hoped they would stay. They liked that consistency of knowing the personnel.

They also liked some of the programs, such as new fitness programs instituted when the renovation was complete, along with activities such as Mahjong.

Some things did need to be tweaked. The Grand Clubhouse offered a wine tasting event on Wednesday, but there was not food service on that night. Jeffers shifted the wine tasting to Thursday evening because the guests could stay and have dinner afterward.

Jeffers is a stickler for following up on requests.

"You always need to confirm the owner's satisfaction," he said. "You have to follow up with anything you say you are going to do."

Overall, he said much of his job will be about problem solving and about finding out what his clientele wants.

"It has been fun to connect with the homeowners," he said. "I have a lot of common with many of them. They have skied in Vail. They have been to the Ritz-Carlton."

Jeffers' last job was as the general manager of Tivoli Lodge, a family owned business in Vail. Before that, he was the general manager of the Ritz-Carlton in Beaver Creek, Colo.

He said the job at the Tivoli was a rebuilding job for a struggling resort. When that was accomplished, he started looking around for a new challenge. His four children were getting older and he and his wife, Carolyn, started to look toward Florida, where they had relatives and had spent many vacations.

"The real estate pricing here is very favorable and we liked the pricing," Jeffers said. "And we liked the warm climate. We were trading the mountains for the beach."

He interviewed with Monaca Onstad, the director of community relations for Lakewood Ranch Communities, and with ICON Management Services.

"Their philosophies were similar to mine," he said.

The Lake Club, meanwhile, will continue to enhance the amenities. A new tennis center is scheduled to open next spring and new fire pits by the pool are on the way. 

"But there are no hard things that need to be changed right away," he said. "We just want to help the sales team to sell by having a great organization."

Meanwhile, he will continue to keep his eye on every aspect of service.

"We are on the luxury side, so expectations are high," he said. "It's all about the challenge of providing it. It's about wowing them and doing the little things right.

"My mom (Mary Lou Jeffers) taught me that everything had to look a certain way. She was very observant."

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