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August 2020

The Ritz-Carlton Reynolds Lake Oconee Completes Accommodations Renovation, Course Maintenance during Pandemic

By Sally J. Sportsman

When The Ritz-Carlton Reynolds Lake Oconee closed due to the COVID-19 crisis, it decided to use the time and unencumbered operations to complete a total rooms renovation as well as transformation of the Club Level Lounge and guest experiences. While the elegant hotel, in Greensboro, Georgia, was being rejuvenated, the resort community remained active, adhering to distancing requirements and health recommendations.

“We took advantage of time to close and put full focus on renovations,” says Dave Short, senior vice president of marketing and sales for Reynolds Lake Oconee. “We shut 60 cottages for outside rentals, although we still had occupancy for members or guests of members.”

All 253 hotel rooms were renovated, according to Short, with the resort portion of the property having been scheduled to reopen June 1. Redesigned guest rooms and suite interiors reflect a nostalgic ambience, and feature a palette of cream, grey, green and blue to complement the property’s natural backdrop. Wood and wicker elements take inspiration from the Georgia pines and lakefront docks. Bathrooms also were renovated and now feature stone floors, pebbled accent tiles and wooden vanities.

Although only nine-hole rounds of golf, after 3:00 p.m., were allowed during the hotel closing, full golf course access, with restrictions for the pandemic, was slated to resume upon the reopening.

Keeping four of the property’s six golf courses open while the hotel was shut down, resort management rotated the facilities to provide playing opportunities for guests. New regulations due to the novel coronavirus include, among other restrictions: no coolers or towels, disposable pencils and scorecards, golfers handling their own bags and single ridership in carts. Major aerification took place during the down time, and tournaments have been scheduled for later in the year.

All six golf courses are in prime condition, having undergone recent restoration. Before the pandemic, the destination was doing 150,000 rounds a year, of which 15-20% was resort play, according to Short. From March 18-31 this year, no resort rounds were played, but 5,000 rounds were played by members, with safety precautions undertaken. The number of rounds played is expected to rebound as play resumes, the closure having had an expected impact.

“We predicted 15,000 rounds by the end of April – with social-distancing golf – whereas we did 19,000 in April last year,” says Short. “With our proximity to Augusta, we usually do 7,500 to 8,000 rounds around the Masters.

“We are operating from a forward-looking business plan, having given several of our golf courses maintenance a bit earlier than originally scheduled. Golfers have been in complete compliance and in good spirits, with no pushback at all regarding new safety regulations.

“We are excited to have the resort component open again, to see people who come back often. We have adjusted well and we will recover well.”

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