|By Chris Schultz, The Janesville Gazette, Wis.|
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Oct. 12, 2004 - FONTANA, Wis. -- The Abbey Resort & Spa announced to employees Friday that it plans to close from late November to mid-January while the first phase of work is done on a multi-million dollar renovation of the 41-year-old hotel. According to a news release from the Abbey Group Resorts of Oak Brook, Ill., the resort, on the shores of Geneva Lake in Fontana, will be fully renovated by Memorial Day 2005.
Meanwhile, Fontana Village Administrator Kelly Hayden-Staggs said the village isn't too concerned over the closing.
Although some room taxes will probably be lost during the six weeks or so that the resort is closed, the renovations are expected to more than make up for the loss, Hayden-Staggs said.
"Those were its slow times anyway," Hayden-Staggs said of the closing dates. Specific dates for the closing and reopening of the resort were not mentioned, although the Abbey Web site lists a Nov. 25 Thanksgiving brunch as one of its events.
Carey Kerger, general counsel for ANVAN, which has represented Abbey in meetings with the Fontana Village Board, said that renovations to the resort would include work on the building's electrical, water and sanitary systems. He said it was decided that it would be better to close the hotel section of the spa while that work was being done.
"When infrastructure is being redone, it's difficult to operate the facility," Kerger said in a telephone interview Monday. Kerger said the lobby will also be redone and furniture and fixtures will be replaced.
However, the spa and "some" food and beverage establishments at the resort will remain open, Kerger said. He did not elaborate. Questions about the number of employees to be affected and the exact dates for closing and reopening of the hotel section of the spa were referred to Abbey manager Peter Walstra, who was unavailable for comment Monday.
According to the news release, renovations will include upgrading the guest rooms, public spaces and infrastructure. New guest room interiors will feature a lake cottage design with lighter tones, custom furnishings, flat screen televisions and completely renovated bathrooms with granite and stone finishes.
Public spaces marked for upgrades include the resort lobby, three restaurants, indoor and outdoor pool areas and the renowned Fontana Spa. The resort's 30,000 square feet of meeting and event space will be transformed into a conference area, capable of hosting state-of-the-art meetings and conferences as well as social functions and events.
The remodeled resort will be transformed into a "condo-tel," with rooms and blocks of rooms sold to individual investors as condominiums. The condo owners would become co-owners of the hotel and the rooms would be rented out as hotel rooms.
Under an agreement with the village, the owners of the condo hotel rooms will not be able to use them as permanent residences. They must be rented as hotel rooms only.
Built in 1963, the 334-room resort sits on 75 acres and also has a 407-slip marina on the lake. It is the only resort located on the shores of Geneva Lake.
Abbey Group Resorts, based in Oak Brook, Ill., owns and manages the Interlaken Resort & Country Spa and Inns of Geneva National near Lake Geneva, in addition to The Abbey Resort & Spa. Cost of the Abbey renovation has not been announced by Abbey Group. Estimates from the village put the renovations in the $10 million to $30 million range.
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