The Family FactorSep 04, 2018 03:38PM ● By Cale Finta
The Family Factor
A secret to Renaissance ClubSport's success
By Aziza Jackson
It could easily be said that Kevin Cabral rarely gets a moment to himself—except on his bike ride to and from work. He greets guests by name with a smile and a firm handshake in the lobby on the way from the front desk to his office. He asks associates in the restaurant about their weekend as he cuts across the fitness center to check on things in Kids World.
With a blissful day spa, lavish fitness center, boutique hotel, indoor/outdoor bistro, cabanas, bocce ball courts, and a childcare center all under one roof, Cabral takes great pride in his role as general manager of Walnut Creek’s Renaissance ClubSport. “I’ve been here for about 15 years,” says Cabral. “And I feel every single one of them,” he laughs.
Although Cabral has only been general manager for three years, his career in the hospitality industry has spanned nearly twenty. “I started with Leisure Sports in Pleasanton,” he says. “Then I had my first kid and decided it was time to work closer to home.” Cabral studied recreation administration at Humboldt State University and sold commercial printing, before getting his start as an activities director at ClubSport in Pleasanton. “I worked there for four years and when this facility was built, I transferred here,” he says. “I was part of the opening team, so it was cool.”
But it’s the work/life balance that makes all the difference for Cabral. “I have two kids, a daughter Caroline who is a junior in college, and a son James who’s going off to college next year. They both worked here. First in childcare. Then my daughter became a camp director before moving on, and my son works here as a valet. I brought my kids to work; they went through camps,” says Cabral.
“It really says something special about this place that I was able to spend so much time with my kids. My wife Shannon commutes to the city, so I was the drop-off and pick-up dad. I’ve seen all my kids’ sporting events and dance recitals. I haven’t missed one.”
This family-friendly approach to business, he says, is what keeps the club’s associates, members, and guests loyal to ClubSport. “Our company prioritizes employee training and puts people first.” Working with associates, growing associates, and retaining associates is a top priority for Cabral.
With about 385 associates spread between the spa, the health club, the restaurant, and the hotel, Cabral has been successful in building long-term relationships which he attributes to a positive work environment, competitive wages, and a multitude of employee perks. “We’re a family-owned business. Our associates have a voice and feel appreciated. It totally sets us apart.”
As Minnesota-based Life Time Fitness enters the Walnut Creek market at Broadway Plaza, concerns over competition, traffic, and parking congestion have been expressed by Forma Gym, among others. But Cabral doesn’t seem to mind. “Lifetime has moved into a lot of our other markets in Southern California and Oregon,” he says. “There’s talk of one opening in Dublin, which is near our club in Pleasanton. So for us, it’s coming. I know there is some talk about traffic and parking issues in downtown Walnut Creek. I feel like if it goes downtown, that’s where it happens. We’ll have to just stay on our toes. Competition will keep us sharp, and we’re competitive people.”
Renaissance ClubSport is also facing increased competition in the hotel market, with a new Marriott Residence Inn and Hilton Garden Inn opening in Walnut Creek, and at least three other hospitality projects in the works. But Cabral’s outlook on the future of ClubSport is still as bright as it was 15 years ago. He says that it’s the people who make his property standout and relationships that have been built over the years will be hard to mimic for newcomers to the market. “We care and respect our members and guests, and we hope they feel that,” says Cabral. “Our members are just good old Walnut Creek ‘How are you doing?’ people.”