What are leisure facilities?

Also called recreation facilities, leisure facilities are simply facilities that are used for leisure activities, from tennis and golf clubs through to a full-service resort. Leisure facilities come in a variety of sizes and can be either private or public. Public facilities are generally focussed on providing some type of community service, such as access to fitness equipment for health, meeting spaces to help foster community and sense of belonging, to help provide support services for those in need, and more. Leisure facility structures can include buildings, playing fields (or other outdoor sites) and specific equipment. They can also include ancillary requirements such as toilets, car parks, kitchens, showers, change rooms etc.

Types of leisure facilities

Leisure facilities can be natural or man-made structures.

Natural leisure facilities include:

  • park areas
  • lakes
  • hiking/bush walking trails
  • scenic vistas
  • heritage areas where human access is allowed (but may be limited).

Although natural leisure facilities are primarily outdoors and focussed on outdoor functions, most require some form of management, and generally have some form or associated structure and/or ancillary requirements. These can include:

  • a guide and reception area for information
  • a covered, weatherproofed map with hiking trails and map pamphlets
  • toilets
  • car parks
  • regular signposts for trails
  • informational boards
  • fences and safety railings
  • waste facilities/garbage disposal
  • camping facilities/campgrounds
  • barbeque areas, picnic areas.

Depending on the area and local legislation, there may also be specialist staff for monitoring flora and fauna. These types of leisure facilities may also have other recreational services that require some type of management, such as:

  • surfing
  • paddleboarding
  • kayaking
  • skiing
  • snowboarding
  • snorkelling.

These activities require rentals, safety training, and supervision. Depending on the area and state and local legislation, facilities may be publicly or privately managed. E.g., some hotels may have strips of private beach with activities managed by the hotel; in other areas, the local council may offer inexpensive rentals for equipment and have lifeguards available for safety.

Man-made leisure facilities

Man-made leisure facilities stand in contrast to natural facilities because they are deliberately constructed to serve a purpose. This doesn’t mean that they cannot include the outdoors or even parts of the natural environment, but rather that the entire facility is the result of specific planning with a recreational purpose, rather than the result of repurposing or part of a multipronged plan (e.g., conservation, ecotourism).

Examples of man-made leisure facilities include:

  • sporting arenas and stadiums
  • water parks
  • resorts
  • golf clubs and country clubs
  • playgrounds
  • tennis courts
  • fitness centres.

Some facilities may have both indoor and outdoor components, e.g., an indoor gym with an outdoor swimming pool, or a country club with indoor tennis facilities and outdoor golf course. Others may be a primarily outdoor facility, such as a golf course, with indoor support facilities for the primary purpose, such as a restaurant, spa, and change rooms.

Managing leisure facilities

Administration of a facility involves exercising control over both its use and its state of repair. The amount of management required for a facility is directly proportional to its:

  • size (i.e., square meterage)
  • ·number of services/products
  • complexity of services/products
  • risk assessment.

These factors can be grouped together into what’s known as the facility’s extensiveness. The more extensive a facility, the more experience the facility manager will need.


What do leisure facility managers do?

Leisure facility managers require a diverse set of skills. They must move smoothly from administrative tasks into people management and sometimes even into customer service, smoothing difficulties with users of the facility. Although their role is management, many managers will also fill in if necessary when understaffed for events or due to emergency.

Tasks may vary according to the type of facility concerned, but on a day-to-day basis may include:

  • ·organising and running programs
  • ·ordering materials
  • directing staff in maintenance tasks
  • staff management
  • staff training
  • managing bookings
  • ·organising repairs
  • managing office procedures.

Organising and running programs

Most leisure facilities run programs for their members. Programs encourage members to keep using the facility – if a facility provides only the most basic service, e.g., use of a tennis court, there is no point of difference that encourages members to use that specific tennis club over another club. It’s also important to remember that while leisure facilities often provide specific equipment and services (e.g., golf courses, swimming pools, tennis courts), many members choose to use them due to the social element.

Crafting programs that specifically cater to members’ wants is a great way to encourage members to keep using the facility and encourage new memberships. This is important because more members means increased profits, and increased profits can mean more facilities or services in the long-term. Many facilities will also run specific marketing events to bring in new members, or members’ open days where people can try out facilities for a day.

Some facilities also run events in conjunction with sponsors or companies, e.g., pro days at golf clubs, where an equipment company will sponsor a day and bring products for members to try. Examples of duties of the facilities manager in this area include:

  • Marketing Events for new members
  • Conducting Events
  • Conceiving and planning activities and events

Ordering materials

 The facilities manager is generally responsible for general inventory (separate to food inventories for eateries and other specialist inventory, e.g., for the pro shop). This type of inventory includes ordering supplies required for routine maintenance tasks, such as:

  • chemicals for cleaning toilets and other areas require specialty cleaners
  • fertiliser for turf
  • polish for polishing floors
  • safety equipment
  • cleaning products for equipment, etc.

Other general inventory will also include supplies required for the routine operation of facilities. This can include things like care for change rooms and locker rooms, but also supplies for employee facilities and foodstuffs for non-speciality zones (i.e., foods sourced via a vending machine rather than the site restaurant or café). Examples include:

  • toilet paper or soap for toilets and change rooms
  • coffee, tea, sugar, milk for staff kitchen and general areas
  • water for a water cooler or drinks for dispensing machine or general vending machines


Staff training, management and recruitment
Facilities managers are also responsible for staff recruitment, induction, and training in most places. This includes:

  • ensuring staff are up to date on workplace health and safety procedures
  • having appropriate health and safety officers and fire wardens if required by local legislation
  • planning and running staff training sessions
  • induction of new staff
  • authorising external training programs
  • writing advertisements for new positions and conducting interviews
  • managing the roster.

Managing bookings

Although there are often several staff who may take calls for the use of facilities on site, there is generally only one person who manages all the bookings for major events at a leisure facility. This is to ensure continuity and make sure that there is no overlap or confusion between bookings. In some cases, depending on the facility type, there may be a special events coordinator, but they will often work closely with manager. Examples of tasks involving booking management include:

  • allocating different rooms, outdoor areas, pools, etc. to different clubs or other groups at specific times.
  • allocating times for maintenance work to be carried out on different facilities.
  • maintaining a coordinated record of bookings.

Directing staff in maintenance tasks


Maintenance is a vital part of leisure facilities management. When facilities are not well-maintained, risk increases – which, in turn, increases the likelihood of accident and injury for both members and staff. As this likelihood increases, so too does the likelihood of legal ramifications for the leisure facility. If the facility and/or manager and/or owner are found negligent due to lack of maintenance, they can face serious criminal charges and potentially a civil lawsuit for money to paid in damages.


In short, maintenance should always be taken seriously.


Different staff will be required to undertake different types of maintenance tasks based on their skillset and capacity. It’s up to the leisure facilities manager to know their staff and assign them appropriately. Examples of routine maintenance tasks for management include:

  • mowing grass
  • sweeping, vacuuming or polishing floors
  • cleaning toilets/showers/change rooms
  • pool maintenance (eg. checking filtration or chemical treatments)
  • promoting facilities & bookings availabilities
  • maintenance checks on equipment.

It is vital to understand that this also includes workplace health and safety – maintenance is an essential part of workplace health and safety for all staff. The manager is responsible for making sure all staff have all necessary protective equipment available as needed, and that is current and properly functional.

Organising staff/contractors for repairs


Repairs are another essential part of leisure facility maintenance. Some repairs can be carried out by staff. Others will require specialty assistance. The facility manager must be able to differentiate between the two.


When specialty assistance is required, the facility manager must find an appropriate contractor or other provider for the repair service. This can be an involved process depending on the seriousness of the repair, and may mean having several contractors visit and provide assessments and quotes. Examples of maintenance and repair tasks that may be required include:

  • fixing broken windows
  • plumbing work
  • carpentry work
  • replacing light bulbs
  • replacing broken lights
  • repainting.

Managing the office

Just like other offices, a leisure facility functions best when it has a clear set of administrative procedures for staff to follow. These procedures help ensure all administrative tasks are properly completed and that all people complete all tasks in the same way for consistency and ease. The facilities manager must define what these procedures look like, then clearly demonstrate them each time they engage in office work, e.g., ensuring they always maintain clear records of services such that others in the office maintain records to the same high standard.


Examples of office tasks and workflows include:

  • answering phone, processing mail, processing accounts etc.
  • writing maintenance procedures & checklists, cleaning lists etc.
  • maintaining records of services (eg. servicing gym equipment)
  • maintaining warranty records.

Take that leap, change your life, do leisure management or try a 20 hr course, the choice is yours.