|By Marla Matzer Rose, The Columbus
Dispatch, OhioMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Jan. 22, 2011--Cherry Valley Lodge in Newark is scheduled to be sold at auction next month along with nine other hotels managed by Denver-based Sage Hospitality. All but one of them include water parks.
Built in 1993 and originally owned by State Farm Insurance, Cherry Valley is operating as usual while in the process of being sold, said General Manager Carol Thress.
Bidding on the property will start at $2.9 million on Feb.15, according to real-estate auction website auction.com.
It was sold in 2005 for $15.5million to an investment group called WPH Cherry Valley LLC, according to Licking County auditor's records. Current market value, according to those records, is just below $20million.
With a 10,000-square-foot ballroom and landscaped grounds, the 200-room Cherry Valley Lodge is popular for meetings, weddings and other group events.
It also added family appeal four years ago by opening its 50,000-square-foot Coco Key Water Resort indoor water park. That's a feature it has in common with eight of the nine other Sage-operated properties being put up for sale in locations including Cincinnati; Kansas City, Mo.; and Omaha, Neb.
Thress said she hopes the hotel attracts a buyer "who will continue to invest in Cherry Valley Lodge." The last major overhaul was the $21 million addition of Coco Key in late 2006.
Thress said the water park has succeeded in helping the hotel attract more family vacationers.
"Weeks around the holidays and spring-break time used to be really soft for us," Thress said. "Now, we're often booked solid during those times."
Representatives for Sage and listing agent Jones Lang LaSalle could not be reached for comment on the reason the hotels are being put up for sale.
But one observer said that in general, water parks outside of established resort areas haven't been as successful as developers had hoped.
"It's a big investment and a major ongoing expense" to build and maintain a water park, said Eric Belfrage, vice president in the Columbus office of commercial realty firm CB Richard Ellis.
Overall, Belfrage said, Cherry Valley is a good property, and the plan to sell it could indicate a slight turnaround for hotel transactions.
"I suspect that the market's begun to come back a little bit," Belfrage said. "Money's started to loosen a little for acquisitions."
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Copyright (c) 2011, The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio
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