Greenspan Projects: bringing bespoke experiences to the competitive socialising trend

Greenspan Projects: bringing bespoke experiences to the competitive socialising trend

Explore Blooloop’s latest in-depth feature… delving into the depths of experiential attractions and who is coming out on top…

One of the biggest trends to hit the attractions industry in recent years is competitive socialising. Essentially, competitive socialising attractions are places where people can gather with friends, family or colleagues and take part in a range of fun activities that put them against each other, like mini-golf, darts, shuffleboard, or even axe-throwing.

The experience also includes quality food and drinks, so guests can enjoy the fun with a cocktail in hand, or catch up with friends over a burger.

Socialising at Clubhouse
Clubhouse, Meadowhall

This trend also goes hand in hand with the rise of retailtainment, as these venues are an ideal choice to fill empty retail spaces in struggling high streets, or as an addition to a mall or shopping centre to drive more foot traffic through the doors.

But why is this sector booming, and what does it take to make a successful competitive socialising experience? To find out more, we speak to Rod Morton, CEO of Greenspan Projects Ltd., a creative design and build specialist for the visitor attraction industry.

The appeal of competitive socialising

Rod-Morton-Greenspan Projects

Greenspan has had a hand in several successful competitive socialising ventures, in both the UK and the US. In the last year, it has delivered projects for BigShots Golf USA, Drive Shack Inc.’s Puttery, Meadowhall’s Clubhouse, Gareth Bale’s Par 59 and ZipWorld, to name just a few.

Talking about the rise of competitive socialising and why he thinks the concept is a hit, Morton says:

“It’s also known as ‘Social Entertainment’ and it’s exactly that. It’s the new way of getting together with a group of friends in the way you might’ve done in a pub or bar. The eating and drinking continue, but this time involving a game of darts, mini golf or axe throwing!

“I think it’s gaining traction because it’s a much more enjoyable experience. You get the chance to create countless memories, whilst socialising with your friends.”

Creating award-winning attractions

Greenspan’s mission is to create award-winning attractions for its clients. Its team members come from a range of diverse backgrounds, enabling it to offer a wide collection of skills and experiences.

Themed adventure golf Par 59
Par 59

Speaking about how the firm can help to deliver competitive socialising concepts that are unique in such a booming sector, Morton says:

“Greenspan has the people and skillset to deliver turnkey competitive socialising venues. From darts and mini golf to full venue facilities and bar fit-outs, we aim to offer a one-stop-shop solution to our clients. We believe we can offer something unique through our creative design and build service. We start with design and establish a brand and identity, then shape the attraction for there.

“No one project is ever the same. We first look to understand our client’s needs and then bring a project together to suit their exact requirements. This enables our clients to have a personalised experience.”

Competitive socialising in the UK

A UK success story is Boom Battle Bar, which has now expanded all over the country. Boom Battle Bars bring the competitive socialising trend to the next level. Activities include karaoke, axe-throwing, shuffleboard, beer pong, electric darts and more, alongside quality bar snacks and drinks.

Boom Battle Bar loop the loop Greenspan competitive socialising
Boom Battle Bar

“Boom Battle Bar is a great example of a unique and one-of-a-kind venue,” explains Morton. “They focus hard on their brand offering a consistent experience throughout their ever-expanding venues.

“We were privileged to be contracted to design and build the mini golf attractions and other non-golf games across multiple sites. Featuring games involving a baseball cage, mini golf putting around skate ramps, BMX bikes and slingshots… it’s very unique!”

Celebrities endorse the trend

Celebrities are getting in on the act too. For instance, in the UK, football superstar Gareth Bale has his own competitive socialising brand. Par 59 is a new partnership between Bale‘s Elevens Group and The DEPOT, Cardiff’s innovative events firm. Par 59, a sleek new premier bar experience with a twist, debuted in Cardiff and has since opened a second venue in Bristol. Here, there are two 9-hole mini golf courses, each with a colourful flair.

Friends playing at Par 59 competitive socialising
Par 59

The courses weave through the heart of the venue and feature nostalgic prompts, different challenges and Par 59-esque props. Visitors can play through in groups, or as a pair, while enjoying a delicious drink from the bar. The courses include bespoke finished golf holes, colourful artificial grass, bright LED lighting, special FX and highly detailed props, in keeping with the overall theme.

“Par 59 is a great venue,” says Morton. “I particularly like the fact it’s so premium. The golf, the food, the drinks – it all carries through a sense of class and style. Greenspan created and built the two 9-hole golf courses for Par 59, again a special unique project, just for them.”

Bringing the vision to life

Greenspan worked closely with the client to bring their vision to life, from the initial design concepts to the innovative props and completed sleek structures equipped with lighting and colour-changing golf cups. The result is an engaging and also highly-Instagrammable experience.

 Jamie Humphrys, director of Par 59 says:

 “Greenspan, to work with, has been amazing. We have a venue in Cardiff, and we really want to expand the brand, which we now have done with Bristol. Par 59, we feel, has a hold in the market as a premium venue yet from the ages of 18-80 years old we feel anyone can enjoy it – it’s a good atmosphere! We really like what Greenspan had put together in the past and the playability within Par 59 Bristol works amazingly for us.”

Par 59 Greenspan
Par 59

“I think the finishing holes are really special as well, what they have done with the lighting and infrastructure works really well. The feedback has been amazing too, it takes a good 45 minutes to play the courses and visitors have really enjoyed it. We’re really happy with what Greenspan has done for us.”

Greenspan brings a new competitive socialising experience to Sheffield’s Meadowhall

Meanwhile, up North, Clubhouse is a new nine-hole mini-golf experience at Meadowhall Shopping Centre, an iconic shopping and leisure destination for the UK city.

Clubhouse has taken up residence in a vacant retail unit in the shopping centre, which previously housed a Ronnie O’Sullivan’s memorabilia shop. It offers a range of popular activities, such as bowling, VR darts and arcade games, alongside the bespoke adventure golf course, designed by Greenspan. Visitors can also enjoy a variety of cocktails, craft beers, and street food-style sharing plates.

Clubhouse at Meadowhall Sheffield competitive socialising
Clubhouse, Meadowhall

Each of the nine holes was designed and constructed to a sophisticated brief, with the addition of synthetic plant props. Offering a range of difficulties, each hole features the Clubhouse logo and is lit with warm LED lighting. In addition, for a stress-free guest experience, the holes include a digital scoring platform which allows groups of players to keep track of their scores, as well as personalising their score sheet with a selfie.

“This type of venue is an exciting design and build concept for Greenspan Projects, which has allowed for the complete overhaul of an entirely blank canvas,” says Morton.

Jack Pendlebury, director at Clubhouse, adds:

“It’s fantastic to see this exclusive new experience come to life at Meadowhall, and we can’t wait to see what the reaction is when people visit for the first time – it really is a great venue for having some fun with family and friends. Clubhouse is a great addition to our growing leisure options, and is the perfect place to head for an afternoon or evening out, or even to round off a shopping trip”

Storytelling is key

Elsewhere in the UK, Greenspan Projects has worked with Adventure Leisure to create a fully themed indoor adventure golf attraction for Mr Mulligan’s in Cheltenham’s Brewery Quarter.

Here, the firm used its extensive master planning experience to create the entrance lobby, landing area, reception, and all 36 holes. The task was to create a narrative centred on the persona of Mr Mulligan and his thrilling exploits and inventions. The team took care to include different levels of playability throughout the route and took inspiration for the plot and theming from works of classical literature and the heyday of exploration.

Adventure golf at Mr Mulligan's Cheltenham by Greenspan
Mr Mulligan’s, Cheltenham

The theming and visual design process was intricately developed from initial sketches through to full 3D renders, to give visitors a fully themed experience and an immersive sense of discovery as they weave their way through the underwater and jungle landscape.

UV lighting effects, intricate rockwork, water, and smoke effects are among the theming elements, adding an element of surprise around every bend. In addition, one course is fully DDA compliant.

Greenspan’s competitive socialising projects in the US

Across the pond, Greenspan Project has also delivered a themed golf experience for Drive Shack Inc.’s Puttery.

Drive Shack Inc. owns and operates golf-related leisure and entertainment enterprises, and its mission is to connect people in a fun and innovative way. Puttery is the company’s most recent immersive putting concept, which brings a contemporary twist to the classic game, adding a vibrant environment and an engaging experience that takes visitors from one course to the next.

Puttery in Pittsburgh
Puttery, Pittsburgh

Each Puttery location combines distinctively themed nine-hole courses with lively bars and lounges where customers can hang out before, during, and after the game. It has two venues in Texas, as well as locations in Missouri, Florida, New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and more.

“We are extremely excited and pleased to be working with Drive Shack Inc. in the design and build of their Puttery venues,” says Morton. “They have an amazing vision and are creating something different in this fast-growing world of social entertainment. They have a clear strategy and ‘look’ which is both appealing and highly Instagrammable.

“Our projects with Puttery have allowed for a real boost to the expansion of our business within the US. Subsequently, this has allowed us to invest in new people and additional production facilities at Greenspan Projects to support this growth.”

An ongoing partnership

Brook Tuffin, VP of sales at Greenspan, adds: “We first started speaking with Puttery about their concept in April 2021. A lot has happened since then – they’ve opened a total of six venues now, with four more in construction.

“Themes have been developing, and we are very proud of the Garage course in Pittsburgh that we developed all the way through from an initial theme idea, to the complete construction. Here you steer yourself through years of classic auto, whilst embracing the golden era of horsepower! As with all Puttery venues, the finishes throughout are stunning, the staff are fantastic, and the F&B offering is top drawer!”

Friends at Puttery Pittsburgh competitive socialising
Puttery, Pittsburgh

Mike Chicoine, head of construction and project development for Drive Shack Inc.’s Puttery, says:

 “With the countless number of “eatertainment” venues that have popped up over the past few years, it’s no secret that the competitive socialization scene is booming and here to stay. What makes Puttery stand out from the rest is the elevated design, luxurious décor, and careful attention to detail throughout our venues. We have high expectations, and Greenspan’s robust design and planning group has quickly adopted our program to become a key contributor in our Puttery builds.”

What’s next for Greenspan and the competitive socialising trend?

Following this raft of successful projects, the Greenspan team shows no signs of resting on its laurels, with many more competitive socialising projects in the pipeline.

“Well, it’s a busy time and we’ve got a lot on,” says Morton. “Puttstars in Peterborough, Mulligans in Norwich, and Clubhouse in Sheffield have all recently opened in the UK, as well as Putt Nation in Atlanta, Georgia, in the US. We are currently underway with competitive socialising projects in Milton Keynes, Portsmouth, East London, Glasgow, Mauritius, New York, and Egypt!”

Adventure golf Mulligan's Norwich competitive socialising
Mr Mulligan’s, Norwich

“It’s extremely exciting, and the market certainly isn’t standing still. We’ve seen some different concepts over the last few months. At Greenspan, we are taking on a couple of exciting new products in the coming months, which I can’t reveal at this stage, but I think they are really going to shake up the world of social entertainment.”

When asked if he sees this trend continuing, as guests increasingly demand experiences over products, Morton says:

“Definitely! I can’t imagine going back to how it was before. Social entertainment is here to stay, and it will be the most innovative, most creative, and highest quality that will win.”

Latest Project

Tui Marella Cruises Adventure Golf

Marella Voyager is the latest newly refurbished vessel to enter the Marella scene. Formerly Mein Schiff Herz, Marella Voyager is the second of two Century-class cruise ships operated by TUI Cruises. Built for Celebrity Cruises at the Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg, Germany, Marella Voyager is now equipped with a vast variety of bars and restaurants, as well as an indoor cinema, a pool deck – complete with a swimming pool and whirlpools – and a big show lounge.

Marella’s product development team were looking for something else a little different to bring to a ship undergoing an entire bow-to-stern refurbishment… unlike anything they’d seen on cruise ships before! So, the team engaged with a variety of suppliers and eventually chose Greenspan Projects to work on the design concept for a unique, exciting attraction that will keep passengers entertained… atop The Veranda, overlooking the sea.

Greenspan’s creative design team set to work to produce a concept that could be enjoyed by all… and, of course, centred the story on none other than the beautiful big blue sea! Pops of colour in the coral reef, creativity with realistic rockwork and enhanced playability were key elements considered. Marella are conscious that all passengers should have the opportunity to enjoy all aspects of any attraction on the ship, so accessibility and safety were also factored in from the outset.

Upon completion of the design concept, Marella instructed the Greenspan project team to begin the build in Cadiz, Spain, while the vessel was in dry dock. Utilising expertise from marine specialists within the project management team, challenges needed to be considered during the build in terms of factors such as movement of the ship post-build – as this is no static attraction! For safety purposes, for example, the rock formations needed to be brought away from the external railing to account for movement of the vessel and overall safety – plus the space constraints were something a little unique to work with… but not something the Greenspan team couldn’t handle!

The experience of the build was ultimately enjoyed by many members of the Greenspan team – from our estimators, to procurement, project management, marketing and the senior leadership team… it has been a pleasure to be a part of during our first marine attraction build.

Lawrence Benneton, Hotel Refurbishment Manager for Marella Cruises, said: “Marella were very impressed by Greenspan’s “can do”, positive attitude. Working closely with the Marella team on their first marine project, there were a few unbeknown curveballs thrown their way, which they adapted to proficiently.

“We have enjoyed working with the Greenspan team… and we really look forward to working with them again in the future.”

Managing director of Marella Cruises Chris Hackney went on to say the line is now at its largest capacity, giving agents a “fantastic opportunity” to push sales. “We now have five ships in our fleet which means our capacity is at the largest it has been so we can take more customers away than ever before. This makes it so much easier for agents as they know that we will deliver a quality product, and now, with the addition of Marella Voyager which truly is our best ship yet, there is even more of it.”

“It has been my pleasure to officially open the adventure golf on Marella Voyager, and we look forward to seeing it thrive.”

Rod Morton, CEO of Greenspan Projects, said: “We’ve found that designs that allow people to congregate comfortably around key areas like bars and golf holes help to create an atmosphere of excitement and anticipation. Safety is also a huge element within what we do. We follow the International Maritime Organization’s regulations across all products that we install onboard vessels. From wallpaper and fabrics to artificial grass, we ensure all products are certified with the ship’s wheel mark to confirm authenticity.

Working with Tui Cruises and Marella has been a genuine pleasure and we look forward to many more marine builds for them in the future!”

Find out more about Marella Voyager and her itinerary by clicking here. 

Inspired? Check out our more about Greenspan in the cruise industry here!

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