Callaway Gardens takes action to cut costs

alt


PINE MOUNTAIN, Ga. (AP) — After selling more than half of its 13,000 acres last year, Callaway Gardens is now taking new actions to cut costs.

The resort in Pine Mountain is eliminating some jobs and will close the gardens for more than a week in early January, the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer reports (http://bit.ly/151m7Hm). CEO Edward Callaway said Tuesday the first six months of the year had been worse than expected.

"We spent $2.5 million on capital improvements this year. We thought we would grow our business by that much in the year. We're not going to," Callaway said. The gardens were seeing good growth in daily and weekend visits but that the group business wasn't growing as needed, he said.

Much of the money was used to improve the 274-room Mountain Creek Inn next to Callaway Gardens. Both individual and group travelers were turned off by the hotel and its furnishings, which had gotten "old and tired," Callaway said.

"I'm finding out it takes a while to win a group back," Callaway said. "Groups book three months out, six months out, 12 months out. So we're slowly growing our group business back."

But he estimates that it will take at least two years to pay off the capital expenditures. To compensate for that, he decided to lay off more than a dozen employees, get rid of 15 other positions and reduce the hours for some jobs. Employees are also having to pay a greater share of their health insurance.

Callaway is the grandson of the resort's founders, Cason J. and Virginia Hand Callaway, and son of Howard "Bo" Callaway, a longtime gardens executive and foundation board member.

"I'm adjusting our business and fine-tuning it, and I hate it because we've got great people and great employees," Callaway said. "But we're having to scrimp and skinny down to get through this year so that our revenues exceed our expenditures. We're never going to do anything else but that. That's just a given from now on."

He's also planning to close Callaway Gardens Jan. 1-11, a move he expects will be permanent.

"Last year during that time we had almost no business. It's just a very smart thing to do is close during a period of time when you have very slow business after Fantasy," he said, adding that the resort can use that time for repairs and significant annual maintenance.

The gardens have struggled to come back from the $44 million in debt it had entering 2012. Two land sales that totaled about 7,000 acres helped stem the financial losses. Those sales, along with negotiations with lenders, have helped reduce the debt to about $8 million last year. Callaway has said that's manageable.

___

Information from: Columbus Ledger-Enquirer



More Local

Childcare centers must apply for DECAL exemption

Childcare centers in Coweta County who are not licensed with Bright from the State: Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL) wi ... Read More


Cowetans don’t like proposed Xpress Bus changes

A large and mostly unhappy crowd turned out Wednesday to oppose proposed changes to the GRTA Xpress Serve routes that serve Coweta and other ... Read More


Litfest ticket deadline extended to Tuesday

Next weekend will be the first Southern Litfest event, sponsored by the Newnan Carnegie Library Foundation, and the tickets for events that ... Read More


EC alum represents film/television students in NYC

Newnan native and East Coweta High School graduate Joshua Bruce, a freshman television/radio major at Ithaca College in New York, represente ... Read More


Poplar Road gas lines struck by lightning during storm

The Coweta County Fire Department responded to a pair of house fires on Poplar Road Tuesday afternoon and were able to control both fires be ... Read More

Behavioral hospital awaits opposition

Last week, Superior Court Judge Emory Palmer ordered the Georgia Department of Community Health to award a Certificate of Need to Vest Newna ... Read More