Boca Raton’s Polo Club will be recognized this month as one of the leading clubs in the country.
The club and its Chief Operating Officer and General Manager Brett Morris will be honored with the “2016 Excellence in Club Management” award on Feb. 9 during an awards dinner at the Interlachen Country Club in Winter Park.
The annual awards are selected through nominations submitted on behalf of qualified candidates by other parties. There are 15 judges that are not affiliated with the event co-sponsors, the McMahon Group and Club & Resort Business. Award recipients are selected based on their achievements at the club they currently manage.
The Polo Club is receiving the James H. Brewer Award for Country/Golf Clubs with 600 or more full-privilege members. It is the only club in Florida being recognized under the Excellence in Club Management category.
“It is a huge honor to receive this award,” Morris said.
He started his career at the Polo Club in 2012. He said he instantly began to find ways to turn the club’s reputation around through rebranding and renovations.
“The club had a pretty troubled reputation,” he said, explaining the club’s food and beverage service was inconsistent and the governing body had issues.
To fix the issues, he said he undertook a $30 million renovation that redesigned and rebranded the club as a place that is the epitome of residential resort style living.
With 45 clubs in Palm Beach County alone, he said it was a massive undertaking to become a standout club.
He said the first two years were challenging. It took time to turn around a $50 million operation with 550 employees and 3,000 members, he said.
“There is a lot of competition out there, especially in South Florida,” he said. “People have a lot of choices. We looked at what could separate us.”
The result is what he says member liken to a cruise ship that doesn’t leave port because there is always something to do. They renovated the spa, branded the five restaurants at the club differently, created social programs and cultural arts events. The leadership at the club has been improved and the membership offerings have been modified.
While Morris is being recognized for his work at the Polo Club, he has decades of experience in the club industry.
He started out studying to be an executive chef and then worked his way up to general manager and COO over the past 30 years.
He has worked at four clubs throughout his career. Polo Club is his first gated, residential community.