The lodge at Amicalola State Park soon will be under the management of a private firm.
Coral Hospitality, based out of Naples, Fla., has managed Brasstown Valley and Lake Blackshear resorts in the state since 2005. They do an outstanding job in running hotels, said Kim Hatcher, public affairs coordinator for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.
The basic decision is to bring in folks whose full-time job is in running hotels, lodges and cabins, and those types of things, said Bill Donohue, executive director of the North Georgia Mountains Authority. Theres been less and less ability for state parks to properly staff, market, operate and invest in the physical facilities. The decision was made from the state perspective to invest dollars in a renovation, and the day-to-day management and marketing and operations directed by Coral Hospitality.
Also making the transition to Coral Hospitalitys management will be the lodge at Unicoi State Park. The lodge at Unicoi will be under the new management beginning Nov. 1 of this year, while the Amicalola Lodge will make the switch on Dec. 1.
We understand what its like to manage in a park setting and take care of the environment, said Lee Weeks, CEO of Coral Hospitality. We enjoy the relationship with the North Georgia Mountains Authority, and the Georgia state parks.
The renovations at Amicalola will begin in mid-2013, Hatcher confirmed. We will stay open during the renovation and improvement process. Hatcher did say that the Amicalola lodge will remain open during the renovations.
The Georgia State Legislature has approved the $9.7 million renovations to both the Amicalola and Unicoi lodges, with the funds coming from bond money already allocated for those purposes.
First and foremost, well upgrade, renovate and refresh all the existing facilities, Donohue said. He went on to say that after the initial renovations, the company will look at additional guest amenities.
Our challenge is to think of what a guest today and what a guest for the next 10 years will want, he said.
Current employees will need to re-apply for their jobs under Coral Hospitality.
After November, they will no longer be state employees, Donohue said. We met with all of the employees on Wednesday (Sept. 26) and explained to them how we probably need every one of them to work after that day. ... Coral Hospitality doesnt have a whole staff of folks waiting in the wings to come in. Donohue did say that an internal job fair has been held, and employees are being walked through the application process for Coral Hospitality.
Its probably not going to be 100 percent of the employees that will be working there on Dec. 1 for whatever reason, he allowed. But we need all of the staff thats up there. He also explained that while there may be some fluctuations in day-to-day responsibilities and in pay, the majority of the positions and compensation will be comparable to what employees are currently receiving.
Usually we employ most, if not all of the people, who are already there, he said. We need most, if not all, of the employees to stay in their positions, or to revamp into a new position.
The new management applies only to Amicalola Lodge, the conference facilities, restaurant and cottages. The actual park system will not change in any way, and all facilities are still owned by the state DNR.
Were looking forward to this, Hatcher said. This is a good partnership.