From The Blog
Aaron James Looks to Elevate KICA Recreation
CONTRIBUTED BY SUE SCHAFFER
Over the past decade or more, KICA has committed to increasing its recreational offerings to meet and anticipate the community’s needs. The 2017-18 renovation gave The Sandcastle a much-needed update, opening it up to the ocean and adding an additional pool. The decision to hire Aaron James as KICA’s new director of Recreation is another step in the right direction. Hospitality is his passion, and he envisions imbuing KICA’s wide range of wellness, fitness, educational and social offerings with a warm and hospitable vibe.
Aaron comes to Kiawah from the Cherokee Town and Country Club in Atlanta, where he was assistant director of Fitness and Wellness; he managed six pools, two fitness centers and a staff of 100. There, he created a concierge wellness program involving chiropractors, physical therapy and stretch therapy to complement the fitness, aquatics and family programming. He also doubled program income in his three years at the club. Now he is looking to help KICA elevate the recreational experience. “The trend in clubs and associations is that people are looking for private communities with an attractive amenity set. Recreation and wellness amenities in high-end community centers are now a requirement for buyers,” he says.
Four weeks into his new position, Aaron already has a forward-looking agenda. “Fitness is the fastest-growing industry. The demand for new offerings has exploded worldwide, with outdoor fitness spaces and inclusion of technology being top trends.” His goal is to expand event, wellness and fitness offerings for KICA. Through a committee role with the Club Spa and Fitness Association, he has a national network by which to keep abreast of trends and ideas. Closer to home, Aaron will chair the board-created Sandcastle User Task Force, where he will be able to get direct feedback from KICA members. He also seeks to engage the “next generation,” both younger newcomers to Kiawah and the children of long-time members.
Aaron is excited to be coming to the Charleston area and his wife, a classically-trained choreographer, is delighted to be coming back to the beach. The two met in China, one of three locations at which Aaron worked for Club Med early in his hospitality career. The couple has a sense of adventure. After leaving China, they drove 30,000 miles on an eight-month tour of the US, covering 27 states, as well as Canada and Mexico.
Humorous and personable, Aaron calls himself “a people person. Building relationships is a joy to me. I read people well and enjoy being proactive about the needs of the individual and community. In hospitality, you have to be proactive.”
In his first month, Aaron has enjoyed getting to know the members of the KICA management team, who have “been fantastic” in welcoming him, and the KICA members he has met so far. He looks forward to continuing to meet our KICA members. “My door is always open. I look forward to talking with everyone. Just stop by to say ‘hi,’” he says.