Wednesday’s announcement of the change in ownership at Callaway Resort & Gardens sparked questions from Ledger-Enquirer readers worried about what the news means for Harris County’s largest employer (about 500 jobs) and thousands annual visitors to Pine Mountain’s 2,500 acres.
Some answers emerged.
In LE’s email responses to questions, here’s a summary of what we learned from Callaway spokeswoman Rachael McConnell about the impact of the new deal, which transfers ownership of the resort’s assets. from Callaway of the Ida Cason Callaway Foundation to Herschend Enterprises of Peachtree Corners, Georgia.
Will the change in ownership result in layoffs of employees or the elimination of vacant positions?
No, said McConnell. In fact, Callaway is “actively hiring” for a variety of seasonal and full-time positions, she said.
“This is an exciting opportunity for our current employees, who will now have access to great new benefits, such as free courses through Herschend’s GROW U program and Share It Forward, the non-profit organization of assistance to Herschend employees.
What parts of Callaway Herschend will she own and will the foundation retain?
Herschend, which has managed the property for the past two years, will assume ownership of the resort assets from Callaway. These assets include the lodge, spa, golf courses, beach and conference center. Herschend will also lease and manage the foundation’s Virginia Hand Callaway Discovery Center, Cecil B. Day Butterfly Center, Ida Cason Memorial Chapel and gardens.
Are there any plans to close the Callaway Tennis Center? If so, why and when?
“Callaway Resort & Gardens is conducting an exciting capital improvement project that includes renovations and facility upgrades on our 2,500-acre property,” said McConnell. “As a result of this effort, our tennis courts and facilities will close effective July 22, 2022. Official tennis programming will end on April 21, with the courts open, as resort guest and resident amenities. only until July 21. Updates on renovations and plans for the space will be shared as details are solidified.
Callaway plans to move the tennis program to a new location and reopen in 2023, McConnell said.
Because a third party, Texas-based Peter Burwash International, operates the tennis center, no Callaway employees will be affected by the change, she said.
Are there any plans to reopen the Callaway hotel on Hwy 27? If not, why not?
“Mountain Creek Inn closed seasonally in 2020,” McConnell said. “Because of the Covid, it did not reopen in March of that year. It will remain closed.”
The hotel is over 50 years old.
“Long-term plans are to invest in new accommodations as Callaway Resort & Gardens continues to grow,” she said.
Herschend’s plan to invest $20 million will produce what improvements at Callaway?
The five-year plan includes “renovations and upgrades to the resort and additional advancements to its world-class events,” McConnell said. “Renovations to the lodge and cottages are already underway.”
She did not provide further details.
How much money will Herschend pay the foundation to get the station’s assets?
This information is kept confidential.
How many visitors has Callaway had in 2021 and so far in 2022, and how do those numbers compare to previous years?
McConnell did not share numbers but said that since Herschend began managing the property two years ago, “there has been an increase in the number of visitors to Callaway year over year. We attribute this growth to the introduction of new world-class events like Spring Flower Fest and Pumpkins at Callaway and improvements to visitor favorites like Fantasy in Lights.
“Specifically, we added new driving scenes and visitor experience for Fantasy in Lights last year. This year we are seeing even higher visitor numbers as we continue to invest in improving the resorts and special events that celebrate the natural beauty of the area.
“We have started 2022 well with strong group bookings at the Lodge and Conference Center. … Attendance continues to grow post-COVID, and we have the highest attendance we have seen in recent years.
What other properties does Herschend own?
Herschend, considered the nation’s largest family-owned themed amusement and entertainment company, has 26 properties, including Dollywood Parks & Resorts, Silver Dollar City and the Harlem Globetrotters, with more than 11,000 employees entertaining more than 14 million guests per year, according to Wednesday’s news. Release.