MWCD commissions firm to reposition, redevelop Atwood Lodge
May 22, 2010
One of the primary goals of the company that will begin marketing Atwood Lodge will be to build “experiences” to attract new and returning guests to not only the lodge, but the entire region.
John Meeske, president of Resorts and Clubs Inc., said he cannot wait to get started and showcase the Atwood Lake region and surrounding attractions to potential partners to locate in and around Atwood Lodge.
“We want to develop multiple uses of the property here to grow the experiences available and take advantage of those that already exist in the Atwood Lake region,” said Meeske. “This is a beautiful area with so much to offer. It is our job to pull all of these together, identify and attract suitable partners and have them work together for the benefit of the community.”
The Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District (MWCD) Board of Directors approved a memorandum of understanding during a meeting today (May 21) with Resorts and Clubs Inc. and the newly formed The Resorts Experience Company-Atwood LLC (TREC-Atwood). TREC-Atwood was formed specifically to redevelop the Atwood property.
The 45-year-old lodge operation has suffered from increasing deficits that exceeded $1 million alone in 2009. Resorts and Clubs Inc. has a proven track record for repositioning and improving struggling resorts across the nation.
MWCD owns the lodge, which opened in 1965. The Board of Directors earlier this year announced that it would close the lodge in October if a buyer or some other solution could not be found because of the increasing losses. The agreement with TREC-Atwood may enable operations to continue at the lodge without interruption, said John M. Hoopingarner, MWCD executive director/secretary.
“Our goal will be to redevelop Atwood Lodge as a destination resort,” Meeske said. “In doing so, we must stop the operating losses, shift the overall responsibility for operating the lodge from MWCD to TREC-Atwood, service the debt, maintain and create new employment opportunities, and generate increased revenue through redevelopment of the property by building the ‘Atwood Experience.’”
TREC-Atwood will prepare a strategic business plan to reposition the Atwood property as a destination resort.
“The expertise that John Meeske and his team bring to the table is impressive and his energy and enthusiasm are contagious,” said Harry Horstman, president of the MWCD Board of Directors. “We are hopeful this direction will be successful, which will be a ‘win’ for everyone.”
Meeske has led efforts to improve the performance of resorts and clubs including Pinehurst Resort in North Carolina, Quail Hollow Resort in northern Ohio, Shanty Creek Resorts in Michigan and Barton Creek Resort and Spa in Texas, along with many others.
“Community support will be a key component to our success,” stressed Meeske. “We will need to build that support by involving the community in the process.”
“We know that this is a huge decision for the MWCD because of what this lodge means to the area,” Meeske said. “But if we work together and grow the pieces, we can make this a destination that is the No. 1 lake resort in Ohio.”
TREC-Atwood will lead a strategic plan for the Atwood Lodge property by assembling partners with expertise in many hospitality and tourism fields, such as golf course management, hotel and resort management, residential and vacation home development, wellness, motor coach park and air park development, and more. Meeske said he is also is very encouraged about development of an educational component for the lodge.
Participating partners will sign license agreements with TREC-Atwood that ensure cooperative marketing and operations consistent with the TREC-Atwood strategy, Meeske said.
The lodge is located off Rt. 542 between Sherrodsville and Dellroy in Carroll County and includes the main hotel, dining room and conference center, two golf courses (an 18-hole regulation course and a lighted, nine-hole, par-3 course), 17 vacation cabins and indoor and outdoor swimming pools, along with other amenities.
The operation currently has about 20 full-time and 40 part-time employees, and has an economic impact on the Carroll County community of an estimated $7 million annually, according to local officials.
The MWCD, a political subdivision of the state, was organized in 1933 to develop and implement a plan to reduce flooding and conserve water for beneficial public uses in the Muskingum River Basin, the largest wholly contained watershed in Ohio. Since their construction, the reservoirs (including Atwood Lake) and dams in the MWCD region have been credited for saving more than 7 billion worth of potential property damage from flooding, according to the federal government.
For more information about the MWCD, visit www.mwcd.org.
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