When Travel Calls

WAC reciprocal clubs provide room to roam

By Darrick Meneken and Sheila Cain

As spring arrives, so does our wanderlust. Answer the call with insider access to jaw-dropping reciprocal clubs around the globe. Whether you prefer the beach, mountains or city, you’ll find a perfect escape and open doors at a network of more than 250 clubs at home and abroad. Join us as we showcase nine of these amazing locations and answer that age-old call to leave the comfort of home for the promise of the unknown. It’s time to roam!


Outrigger Canoe Club

Honolulu, HI

It comes as no surprise that a club on the south shore of Oahu is the second-most popular reciprocal club for WAC members. After all, the average ocean temperature is 78 degrees year-round, and there’s never less than 11 hours of daylight.

Located between Waikiki Beach and Diamond Head, Outrigger offers surfboard rentals as well as sand volleyball courts and beachfront dining. With 350,000 residents, Honolulu delivers plentiful culture and great restaurants. The main draw, however, remains the warm Pacific Ocean. Visitors with a rental car and a good map can easily spend more than a few vacations circling Oahu in search of their favorite spots.

Away from the beach, Honolulu favorites include Leonard’s Bakery—the malasadas are to die for—as well as high-end shopping on Kalakaua Avenue and the Aloha Stadium Swap Meet & Marketplace. A trip to Pearl Harbor also shouldn’t be missed.

If you visit the Outrigger Canoe Club, don’t be surprised if you see someone you know. In 2018, more than 120 WAC members requested letters of introduction to this Hawaiian paradise.

Learn to surf. Discover Oahu’s best beaches for beginners: wac.net/oahu-surf.

Jonathan Club
Santa Monica, CA

You’ll find this club’s location—less than two miles north of the Santa Monica Pier—hard to beat on the whole of the California coast. You might also find it hard to get in. After all, the clubhouse’s backyard includes perhaps the most desirable stretch of sand this side of the Pacific.

The secret to gaining reciprocal access to the beach clubhouse is to stay overnight at Jonathan’s downtown location. From there, a 16-mile drive west on Interstate 10—say “the 10” to sound like a local—will take you through Culver City and on to Santa Monica and the beach clubhouse, which offers year-round oceanfront dining and ideal access to rolling waves and golden sand.

If you go, consider swinging by the Getty Villa museum, just four miles up the coast. The enduring architectural legacy of J. Paul Getty houses an impressive collection of art and antiquities, but the Greco-Roman facility itself is the true treasure.

A walk along Santa Monica Pier is a must, and the Venice Beach Boardwalk and Muscle Beach are only two miles farther down the coast.

Get lost in the beauty—and beautiful people—of Southern California. Instagram @visitsantamonica.

Jericho Tennis Club
Vancouver, B.C.

Jericho Tennis Club, tucked away along the shore of Vancouver’s Jericho Beach, carries a reputation among its members as one of the city’s most exclusive—yet welcoming—private clubs. Established as a swimming club in 1916, it is now best known as a haven for racquet-sport enthusiasts. The club offers 12 championship tennis courts, all covered with tennis bubbles during the winter months, as well as four international-sized singles squash courts. Jericho plays host to world-class squash tournaments, including the annual Sun and Surf and Jericho Open.

Overlooking Burrard Inlet and English Bay, the waterfront club offers plenty of areas from which to enjoy mountain, ocean, and city views. With cocktail and dining service provided on the heated outdoor patio, you may easily spend the day—and evening—just taking in the sights.

Don’t miss Chef David Beston’s culinary creations. Many of his masterpieces incorporate fresh herbs and veggies from the club’s own rooftop garden.

Tourism Vancouver’s Instagram account is a feast for the eyes. Instagram @inside_vancouver.


Club Lespri
Park City, UT

Located at 7,000 feet in elevation, Park City, Utah, delivers the elegance of a high-end mountain town and the feel of a 19th-century Wild West outpost. Buildings from the last two decades of the 1800s still stand on Main Street, where it’s easy to slow down and enjoy the good life.

Framed by the Wasatch Range, Park City is home of the Sundance Film Festival, held each winter, and the U.S. Ski Team. You can access Park City Mountain Resort via the Town Lift chair, which starts its climb between Main Street and Park Avenue. Just over a mile away, Deer Valley Resort offers even more world-class skiing. All of this lies just 45 minutes from Salt Lake City International Airport. Summer recreation includes fantastic hiking, biking and golfing.

If you visit, don’t expect to meet many locals. Park City often has more tourists than residents. From Club Lespri, located in Prospector Square, it’s just a mile to the base of Park City Mountain. Then again, you might just want to enjoy a massage at Lespri’s day spa followed by mouthwatering steak and sushi on the outdoor patio. The club also offers a variety of overnight options, from suites to luxury lodges.

Keep up with the Sundance Film Festival: sundance.org

The White Buffalo Club
Jackson, WY

First, a point of fact: The name of the town is Jackson, not Jackson Hole. The latter is the name of the valley. Geography lesson aside, this mountain enclave on the edge of Grand Teton National Park—and less than 60 miles from Yellowstone—should be on every Westerner’s bucket list.

Bracketed by the Teton and Gros Ventre mountain ranges, Jackson Hole runs nearly 50 miles in length, houses the headwaters of the Snake River, and plays home to some of the best trout fishing in the Lower 48. Its main town, Jackson, is an Old West settlement as famous for its elk antler arches as for its double-black-diamond ski runs.

For those who prefer mountain-top views without the knee surgery, the Teton Village Aerial Tram will take you 4,000 vertical feet to the top of Rendezvous Mountain. On the way, you’ll pass Corbet’s Couloir, perhaps the most famous ski chute in North America and the final resting place of more than one ACL.

WAC members staying at The White Buffalo Club will snag insane access to the entire Jackson scene with 30 suites, impressive brick-walled fitness facility, and luxurious spa. You can also relax on the rooftop terrace. Replete with stone arches and mountain views, it’s the perfect place for your next geography lesson.

Watch an epic day of dropping in at Corbet’s Couloir: wac.net/corbets-couloir.

Palazzo Arzaga
Brescia, Italy

Although not a high-altitude region itself, Brescia offers up-close access to the Alps with the added bonus of being less than 90 minutes from Milan. How do you say “best of both worlds” in Italian?

Located at the foot of Europe’s legendary mountain range, the province of Brescia includes its namesake capital, a small city of nearly a quarter-million people that delivers a cosmopolitan feel, Roman ruins, and wonderful vistas. The city slopes upward to 2,867 feet. That’s an anthill compared to the nearby Alps. Then again, a walk to the town’s summit with a fresh loaf of crusty bread and some locally made sparkling wine might be all the hike you need.

In 2017, Brescia was one of four Italian cities to be honored as the European Region of Gastronomy. Its famed Franciacorta bubbly and bounty of regional restaurants are almost enough to make you forget that the Matterhorn is just a four-hour drive away—almost!

Palazzo Arzaga sits 30 minutes from town near the shores of rock-walled Lake Garda. Its 84-room hotel, golf courses designed by Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus II, and jaw-dropping spa wrap visitors in Italian luxury. Tennis courts, jogging trails, and a counter-current indoor swimming pool deliver a day—or week—of fitness opportunity. Or, just sit by the picture-perfect outdoor pool and relax under the Brescian sun.

Learn about the annual Mille Miglia, a classic car race from Brescia to Rome and back: 1000miglia.it.


New York Athletic Club
New York, NY

Faced with all that Manhattan has to offer, visitors to the Big Apple often find it difficult to score accommodations that put them in the center of it all. WAC members need look no further than the New York Athletic Club’s City House, a short walk from the lights of Times Square, shopping on Fifth Avenue, and the treasures at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

If a stroll through iconic Central Park—immediately across the street from the City House—isn’t enough to tire you out, check out the club’s state-of-the-art treadmills, stationary bikes, and free weights. A dip in the aquatic center’s pool might help soothe tired feet, while a visit to the center’s steam room and spout room is sure to rejuvenate after a day of exploring.

A trio of dining options—an elegant cocktail lounge, a traditional tap room, and a formal dining room—is certain to please any palate. Be sure to head up to the 24th floor for a panoramic view of Central Park and Uptown Manhattan from the club’s rooftop deck. While there, you’ll find it no surprise that this club is the No. 1 reciprocal destination for WAC members, who requested more than 200 letters of introduction in 2018.

Get your bearings in Central Park. Look for the numerical codes on the base of each lamp post. The first two or three numbers tell you which street you’re closest to. The last number tells you if you’re on the east (even numbers) or west (odd numbers) side.

University Club
Washington, D.C.

Whether you’re in town for work or for play, the University Club of Washington, D.C., welcomes reciprocal members to relax and unwind at its “mansion on Sixteenth Street.” Located just four blocks from the White House, the stately venue is rich in history and tradition. It has welcomed political dignitaries—including President William Howard Taft, former speaker of the house Tip O’Neill, and various Supreme Court justices—as members since the early 1900s. It’s no wonder the club was voted one of the top 20 distinguished city clubs in America.

The elegance of the historic brick venue is underscored by its equally sophisticated dining options. The William Howard Taft Dining Room and Helen’s Cocktail Lounge are the perfect choice for upscale imbibing. More casual options include the John J. Pershing Grille and the Racquet and Sports Lounge, ideal for a post-workout refresh.

The history of the nation surrounds you, with the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, the Washington Monument, and other historic landmarks accessible within a two-mile radius.

Check out the capital’s bounty of blooms at the NationalCherry Blossom Festival, this year March 20–April 13: wac.net/dc-festival.

Royal Automobile Club
London, England

Whether you have a weekend or a summer to spend in London, a stay at this club will put you in the heart of the English capital and largest city in Europe. Located across from St. James’s Square in central London, the Royal Automobile Club’s Pall Mall clubhouse offers an expansive facility with 108 overnight rooms, ample dining and meeting space, and fitness options that include a columnated pool heated to 82 degrees. Oh, and did we mention the Turkish baths?!

As you settle in, it would be easy to forget that Piccadilly Circus, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Hyde Park, the River Thames, and the London Eye are all a short stroll away. Honestly, you’d have to be a guest of the queen to find a better location. That might explain why the Royal Automobile Club was the most popular international reciprocal club for WAC members in 2018.

If you visit, be prepared for the club’s dress code. When in doubt, remember what famed London writer Oscar Wilde once said: “You can never be overdressed.” At Pall Mall, however, you can most certainly be underdressed, so pack accordingly.

True to its name, the club’s blood runs thick with automotive racing history, and it still puts on popular races and rallies each year.

Learn about the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run, billed as the longest-running motoring event in the world: veterancarrun.com.

—Darrick Meneken is Content Director at the WAC. Sheila Cain is a Seattle-based freelance writer.

As published in the March/April 2019 issue of WAC Magazine.

—Posted March 1, 2019


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