The Cruising Yacht Club of Australia (CYCA), one of Australia’s most renowned yachting clubs on Sydney’s harbour, has secured The Boathouse Group as its new hospitality partner.
The CYCA had engaged a smaller catering partner for several years, but at the end of that contract engaged a consultant to help the club find a new partner with a sleeker operation that could help the club create some more aspirational dining experiences within the venue.
“We really wanted to change from just being a caterer who provided food for members to suddenly become aspirational. We spent quite a lot of time looking at various groups, and ultimately The Boathouse Group was the best fit for the club,” explains CYCA Commodore Arthur Lane.
The Boathouse Group operates several waterside venues across greater Sydney, so the synergies between the two businesses were obvious. The Boathouse Group CEO Antony Jones broke down what the group looks for in a venue partner.
“It has to be an iconic location with an iconic outlook. Quite clearly we ticked that box with Arthur and his site straight away. And the second part of that for us was does our brand complement and fit well with what is the existing brand which in this case is the CYCA?
“And then thirdly for us is, where can we make their existing revenue base and experience better? Not just in the context of food on a plate from a quality of product point of view. But equally do we think we can add value to what is a membership-based organisation. And they rightly have a level of expectation around the food and beverage and the experience that they want to have in their club, in their space. And we felt as though that we just ticked all those boxes quite well. So for us, it was actually a very simple and easy yes.”
As part of the new partnership, The Boathouse Group have overhauled the CYCA’s dining space, taking note of every aspect of the dining experience. The space has had an aesthetic revamp in line with The Boathouse Group’s signature look, and a new deck over has been installed. The menu has also been overhauled by Executive Chef James Brownrigg, and new staff have been brought into the business. A lot of attention was also paid to the audio throughout the space to ensure the right tone is set.
“We’re bringing all of these elements together. I think you can set a tone for a venue by the style of service, the quality of food on the plate, the audio that you’re listening to, the way you’re seated, the way in which you’re greeted, and the way in which you depart. They are all the things that we’ve brought to CYCA,” states Jones.
The Boathouse CYCA officially launched on Friday 1 September, and its first weekend has been a positive sign for the club, with members providing plenty of great feedback about the experience.
“Straight away, it’s a totally different feel. In the club, it’s very refreshed,” stated Lane.
“Saturday was a fantastic experiment. It was the first really large day and then the Sunday was Father’s Day. The music was fantastic, it was really a different quality of sound. That really worked very well. The food was beautiful and was presented beautifully. And everyone just spoke about ‘Wow, that was a good dish.’ The only comments I received was about how good the quality and presentation were.”
Jones reiterated that while quality food is important, great venues think about an offer more holistically.
“People sometimes get stuck on things like ‘It’s got to be a Jack’s Creek ribeye’. You know, that’s not the important part. We are in hospitality, we’re not in food. And you’ve got to really get all those elements working together, for people to go ‘That was a memorable experience. I want to go back.’”
For CYCA and Commodore Lane, those memorable experiences have already begun.
“I think it’s a good marriage that’s worked very well with the Boathouse Group, and we are very grateful to have them.”
The Boathouse Group will also be taking over the events space at CYCA, as well as activating the hospitality component for CYCA during the Rolex Sydney to Hobart race.