SAN DIEGO, CA –From bowling to pinball, new Clubhouse at Willow Valley offers fun for the whole family
Friday, October 17, 2014
By MARY BETH SCHWEIGERT | Lifestyle Staff
Elaine and Edward Eichner’s teenage grandsons love to sleep in — but that doesn’t happen when they visit their grandparents at Willow Valley Retirement Communities. There’s way too much to do.
“We usually end up playing tennis first, then pickleball,” Elaine Eichner says. “Or vice versa.”
Willow Valley’s new Clubhouse, an easy five-minute walk from the Eichners’ apartment in the Providence Park neighborhood, caters to residents’ guests of all ages, with a pool, restaurant, bowling alley and sports courts.
John G. Swanson, president of Willow Valley Living, says the Clubhouse aims to provide fun intergenerational activities for residents, their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Intergenerational opportunities abound at local retirement communities. Pat and Ray Horn love to “share” their four young grandchildren with their neighbors at Masonic Village.
“Encouraging children to visit retirement communities is something that’s been done for a long time,” he says. “What we’ve done here is take it to a different level.”
The 30,000-square-foot, two-story Clubhouse, at Route 222 and Locust Lane in West Lampeter Township, opened in July, at an estimated cost of $5.69 million.
Racks in the six-lane bowling alley are filled with shoes from tiny toddler to adult sizes, and 7- to 15-pound balls in a rainbow of colors. The adjacent snack bar serves beer and wine, along with Carmen & David’s ice cream.
The vintage arcade features a mix of games from the 1950s to the 1980s, including pinball, Pac-Man, Donkey Kong and Skeeball. “Zoltar” predicts the future in a classic fortune-telling machine.
The arcade creates a fun role reversal for kids, who typically show their grandparents how to play the latest video games.
“This is the opportunity to turn that around and give residents the opportunity to show their grandkids the kinds of games they liked to play,” Swanson says.
Upstairs, the full-service Local Table restaurant offers a bar, private dining room, community table and outdoor seating. Visitors will find local craft beers, a card room and a rotating display of local artists’ work.
Outside, kids can activate water features in the zero-entry pool. The adjacent patio features a whirlpool spa and plenty of comfortable spots for visiting. The Clubhouse’s more active options include two Har-Tru tennis courts, a small fitness center and pickleball, badminton and volleyball courts.
Eichner, who moved to Willow Valley from the Poconos 3½ years ago, has played tennis since her high-school days. She meets up with other residents at the Clubhouse at least four days a week for tennis, pickleball or badminton games. She also taught her four grandchildren to play.
“I have an 8-year-old granddaughter who fell in love with pickleball,” she says. “She’s doing really well.”
There is no fee for Clubhouse activities, with the exception of food and beverage. Willow Valley shuttles run to and from the building and other areas of the campus.
Resident response to the Clubhouse has been overwhelmingly positive so far, Swanson says. He expects more retirement communities will open similar buildings in the near future.
“What could be better than grandkids wanting to visit their grandparents in a retirement community because there are so many things to do, not just sit in an apartment and behave themselves?” he says.
“They can come here and have fun things to do with their parents and grandparents.”
Willow Valley resident Jean Kahler, her two daughters, sons-in-law and four grandchildren ages 5 to 12 spent a recent Saturday afternoon at the bowling alley to celebrate grandson Andy’s 11th birthday.
“I think it’s an extra-special treat to have all this,” she says. “The kids all were really excited about it and wondered when they could come back again.”
They aren’t the only ones.
“My sons-in-law would love to come back on a daily basis so they could use the golf simulator,” Kahler says.
On the day of the party, it was booked solid.