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The Hills Swim & Tennis Club (Oakland, CA)
Re: Gym & Pool Membership near Montclair
We belong to the Hills Club (that is the one on Manzanita, not to be confused with the Oakland Hills Club on Redwood Rd). We moved to Oakland about 3.5 years ago and joined the club about 1.5 years ago. My wife uses they gym and takes occasional classes which she has liked. I mostly like to Swim. There are two hot tubs (one adults only) and saunas in each dressing room. They are doing a major renovation right now and I hear what is done so far looks great. It is a beautiful spot and the kids love it. They have child care, though we have not used it, and a summer camp, which we have used and our kids have enjoyed. One of the main reasons we joined is that we knew so many people there and the social aspects have been great. When we go up with the kids in the summer they almost always have friends there. The pool is heated and there are plenty of people who use it year round. The memberships can be resold, and I'm guessing they may have gone down in price with the economy. I did not worry to much about it because you can resell it when you are done with it and as long as you plan to hold on to it for a while it is not likely you will lose money on it. Happy Hills member
Re: Laid back, fun swim club w small kids (Oakland)
We've been members at Hills Swim & Tennis Club (www.hillsswimandtennis.com) for about 2 years now and like it a lot -- in fact, the main reason we joined was that we discovered we know so many people with kids who are members there. It's very laid-back. People bbq and hang out, and there are a lot of kids around. There's a nice kids' pool (2-3' deep) and kids' hot tub, in addition to the lap pool, etc. They have summer programs for kids, but not much in the winter that I know of. About my only complaints are that the childcare is kind of pricey and it takes a while to drive up there. Other than that, we love it. Pool-side
Pools: I loved the 3 different pools at the Hills, and yes, they have a great (separate) toddler pool. But my son turned two, he refused to be in the toddler pool anymore, he wanted to play on the steps of the grownup pool. Although the toddler pool at the Claremont is very small, he loves it because it is connected to the big kids' pool area. He seems to have plenty of room to move around and I have to drag him out when I want to leave. Also, I think for moms who have more than one child (not me) the Claremont's set up makes it easy to watch a bigger child and a smaller one at the same time, whereas at the Hills, the kids' pool and the baby pool are too far apart for that. The Hills does have diving boards which the big kids love, and the Claremont does not.
Workout facilities: Yes, the work out facilities at the Claremont are a lot better than at the Hills, although for me, the Hills' stuff was fine. My husband, however, was sold on the Claremont because of the workout room.
Childcare: Here the Claremont wins, by far. A huge advantage of the Claremont is their great childcare. My child ASKS to go to the ''kids' club'' at the Claremont - he never liked the childcare at the Hills. He has a blast at the Kids' Club (except for one day when he was the only kid there and he wasn't too crazy about that).
Cost: the Hills is MUCH more reasonably priced and it is really easy to resell your membership, usually for more than you paid for it. And the monthly fee at the Claremont is almost triple what the Hills was. The guest fees at the Hills are a lot more reasonable, and they let your babysitter bring your child instead of you, at no additional cost (the Claremont makes you buy a ''nanny pass''). The Hills was also really nice about letting my nanny bring her own kids the week they didn't have school.
Snack bar: The Claremont's snack bar is much more expensive than the Hills, and the person manning the cash register is the slowest mammal alive. You are not supposed to bring your own food at the Claremont, either (a rule I totally ignore), but lots of people bring their own stuff at the Hills which I think is much nicer. On the other hand, the Claremont's snack bar has beer and wine, and they set up a poolside bar in the summer (a plus for me, I like my booze!).
Other: don't join the Claremont for the free night's stay at the hotel. They know you are being ''comp'd'' when you check in, and they put us in a room next to the service passage and we got to listen to loud banging from carts being rolled up and down all night long. And in the morning, we had a cold shower. Ugh! Frankly, if the Hills was located where the Claremont is, I'd have stayed at the Hills and brought my flask to the Hills instead of sneaking a sandwich at the Claremont).
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