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State park lodge renovations mostly complete
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Renovations at Unicoi State Park & Lodge included this lobby area.

A multimillion-dollar project to renovate two longtime Northeast Georgia state park lodges is largely finished, with guests already taking advantage of the new rooms.

And so far, “the improvements have been well received by our guests,” said Bill Donohue, executive director of the North Georgia Mountains Authority.

The makeover involved 57 lodge rooms and 14 cabins at Amicalola Falls State Park in Dawson County and 100 lodge rooms and 30 cabins at Unicoi State Park in White County.

Rooms at both lodges were vastly redone or modernized, including new bedding, flat-screen TVs, lighting, wall coverings and bathrooms.

Renovation at Amicalola, which opened in 1991, also featured work on the lobby, with the focal point being a natural fireplace. A new outdoor dining area is being added to the Maple Restaurant.

Also being added are meeting rooms and event spaces marketed toward small business gatherings and social events, including weddings.

“The renovations ... are designed to enhance our visitors’ experience, provide world-class accommodations and dining, while reflecting on the iconic and beautiful park setting,” said Cynthia Segers, the lodge’s

general manager.

At Unicoi, which has been open since 1973, work also has been done to enhance the lobby, guest registration area, all public spaces, the restaurant and meeting areas.

“The new decor complements the lodge’s natural and beautiful surroundings while updating the amenities and services that we can offer (guests and) meeting and event attendees,” said Chris Forbes, the lodge’s general manager.

Both projects were done under the state Department of Natural Resources’ direction and the management of Naples, Fla.-based Coral Hospitality. The lodges remained open during the work.

Donohue said a 3-4 percent hike in average room rates is expected in the wake of the renovations.

“As we explained when Coral took over in 2013, the (authority) anticipated that high demand times might experience a greater rate increase than under the state park management but that also in times of slower demand, the discounts would be greater,” he said.

The authority is an arm of state government contracting with Coral to operate the lodges.

“Overall, we believe the new product provides an exceptional price value relationship for our guests and that is reflected in the positive comments we are receiving and the advanced bookings that are on the rise,” Donohue said.

Heath Carter, regional vice president of sales and marketing for Coral, said the company is excited about the work that’s been done at the lodges.

“It’s a night-and-day difference,” he said.

Speaking of Amicalola particularly, Carter said, “It’s one of the few places on the East Coast that you can sit on a top of a mountain and get that kind of view from every room in the place. You have to go out West to get anything like that.”

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