Kingsmill Resort has been a mainstay on professional golf tours since MTV launched on cable television.

Williamsburg, Virginia: A whirlwind of economic and marketplace dynamics is influencing consumer behavior. According to a recent Deloitte study, millennials are the most diverse generational cohort in American history. Consumers are moving toward city centers, getting married older, are more educated, and spend differently. Across the demographic spectrum, there has been a shift from products to experiences.

Kingsmill has positioned itself to take advantage of this burgeoning trend. While the resort has long been known for golf (The River Course has hosted PGA Tour and LPGA events for most of its history, dating back to 1981), its laundry list of activities—on-site and close by—impress.

No matter the season, Kingsmill Resort has something for everyone. Water sports on the James River is one of its greatest assets, with an adrenaline fix to match your taste. Choices range from zipping along on your personal watercraft to cruising a day on a pontoon boat.

The Explorers Club, an interactive kids’ camp, has a full calendar of activities ranging from fishing at the marina to swimming at the Lazy River. In the evening, the Parents’ Night Out option allows supervised fun for kids while parents “sneak out” for a date.

A trip to Kingsmill wouldn’t be complete without an excursion to notable nearby attractions. Just off property is Colonial Williamsburg. Learn about trades in the 18th century and hear the sounds of the Fifes & Drums as they march down Duke of Gloucester Street. Other options include Busch Gardens and Water Country USA.

Six Degrees Of Separation

After researching 30 billion electronic messages, Microsoft researchers confirmed “six degrees of separation” is a valid theory. The notion reports two strangers are, on average, distanced by 6.6 degrees of separation. In other words, putting fractions to one side, we are linked by a string of seven or fewer acquaintances to the Dalai Lama and the Queen of England.

The management at Kingsmill Resort validates six degrees of separation. Top administration—with a mix of acquaintances, strangers and family—all have a common thread to golf.

“When my dad accepted the COO position at Kingsmill Resort, it wasn’t on the radar for me to move to Virginia,” said James Paige, director of golf. “During a family dinner he broached the subject of joining him with the vast responsibility of heading up the golf department. My dad isn’t just my father, he’s my mentor. The opportunity to work with him and grow Kingsmill Resort’s golf business was an enticing proposition.

“The LPGA’s Pure Silk Championship returns Memorial Day weekend with a purse of $1.3 million,” said Paige. “We are one of the only sites on all the major tours to run operations in-house. Preparation literally starts the day after the previous year’s competition is completed. It’s a surprisingly complex dance before ticket sales are open to the public.”

Golf Nuts

“Kingsmill Resort was established by Anheuser-Busch just before our country’s bicentennial,” explained Loren White, head golf professional. “We run a large golf operation with 54 holes of golf and 1,800 members.

“Our River Course receives the most publicity, but all three of our courses stand the test of time,” stated White. “No matter which you play, a stop at hole No. 55 is a must to settle your bets. Centrally located by the golf shop, it’s an island green that measures exactly 55 yards. Only a flip wedge is required off the tee, but by the number of golf balls we pull from the surrounding lake, butterflies in the stomach are ever-present.”

My Greatest Compliment

John Sexton, affectionately referred to as “Chef,” has more than two decades of culinary excellence.

“Over time, I’ve either directly worked with, or met, most of the staff behind the scenes at Kingsmill,” smiled Sexton. “They are a ‘seasoned’ staff. I, too, had a father who mentored me. Much of what I learned was observed versus taught in our family’s wholesale grocer business. Moving from the kitchen to the front of house required a leap of faith. It was a game changer to have staff asking me for direction versus following directions.

“I’m a believer that recipes aren’t definitive, but benchmarks that can be changed. Managing demands of both resort guests and members at The Club at Kingsmill is a delicate tightrope,” advised Sexton. “They have very different expectations. My three tenants of culinary excellence satisfy both constituents. If I am true to the geography [with local favorites], prepare food honestly [with real ingredients], and listen to feedback [both positive and negative], success is at hand. The greatest compliment for a chef isn’t a word, it’s a smile.”

Motivating A Visit

“I’ve also had the pleasure of working with Kingsmill management at other resorts,” said James Gelfand, vice president at Kingsmill. “Most hotels offer regular hotel rooms that only vary in size. Here, we have a diverse product from a single guest room that can easily be expanded into a three-bedroom unit with a full kitchen. During the cooler season, guests especially appreciate our 168 accommodations with wood-burning fireplaces.

“One of our newer offerings are four-bedroom cottages, with modern Cape Cod architecture, that sit directly alongside the James River,” continued Gelfand.

“Another advantage at Kingsmill is our campus layout. We aren’t a high-rise wherein only one side of the hotel has a view. The natural light is inspiring and in itself a motivation to visit. Your success equals our success,” smiled Gelfand. “If our team can effectively plan and execute an LPGA tournament, just imagine what we can do for your meeting or buddies group.”

A Common Misperception

Pure Silk, title sponsor of the LPGA tournament at Kingsmill, is a name unfamiliar to some—particularly men.

“The family-run company is a leader in women’s shaving [they also manufacture the Barbasol brand]. More than once I’ve been questioned by volunteers if Pure Silk is a milk or pantyhose brand!” chuckled Kristen Ward, director of partnership sales.

“As the largest women’s professional sports organization, the partnership between the LPGA and Pure Silk is a strong demographic fit,” said Ward.

“Running an LPGA tournament involves things you can’t control, like the weather,” explained Ward. “With all major planning on-site, we know the market. Usually things go off without a hitch and we are prepared for crunch time moments. The resources and contacts available to us through the resort are enormous.

“It’s an honor to be considered by many on the LPGA as one of the most popular sites on tour. It’s not an accolade that we take lightly.” 

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