Hotel Online  Special Report


Nine Months After their Partnership Began, Noble Investment Group
and Callaway Gardens Breaking Ground on
The Lodge and Spa at Callaway Gardens
PINE MOUNTAIN, GA (9/29/05) – Noble Investment Group and Callaway Gardens have broken ground on The Lodge and Spa at Callaway Gardens.   A four-star amenity to the property, The Lodge and Spa at Callaway Gardens will feature 150 oversized guest rooms and four-fixture baths along with a state-of-the-art, luxurious 13,000-square-foot spa and health club.  The new Lodge and Spa facilities are designed to honor the rich traditions and boundless natural beauty of Callaway Gardens while adding a new level of luxury and comfort to the overall experience at the resort.
“When we first entered into our partnership with Callaway Gardens in January of 2005, we did so with a shared vision to reinvent the Callaway Gardens experience, while preserving its remarkable heritage,” said Robert McEleney, vice president and managing director of Callaway Gardens Resort for Noble Investment Group.  “This includes the magnificent gardens, the wide range of outstanding hospitality and recreational offerings and more.  Today, a mere nine months later, we reaffirm our commitment to this remarkable property by ensuring that guests will enjoy Callaway Gardens for generations to come.”
“This is truly an historic day for Callaway Gardens,” said Edward Callaway, chairman and CEO of Callaway Gardens.  “The Lodge and Spa at Callaway Gardens takes my grandfather’s original vision for the property into the 21st century by matching our unparalleled natural beauty with a luxurious lodging amenity.  We are proud to work with our partners at Noble Investment Group to provide guests to Callaway Gardens with the very best comprehensive resort experience possible.” 
The Lodge and Spa at Callaway Gardens will be adjacent to the existing Southern Pines Conference Center.  As with all things at Callaway Gardens, the project has been planned to meld with the spectacular natural landscape.   “When it came to designing The Lodge and Spa at Callaway Gardens, we took on the challenge to honor the work that nature has already done,” said Mit Shah, president and CEO of Noble Investment Group.  “With this in mind, we are creating a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified resort lodging amenity that continues the sense of place that is so central to everything at Callaway Gardens.”
The interior of the Lodge will continue the commitment to place, making every effort to, in classic Callaway tradition, bridge the gap between man and nature.  Each luxurious room at the Lodge will feature its own balcony.  All areas will feature an abundance of windows, providing rejuvenating natural light.  The natural theme will extend to interiors of Lodge rooms, where soft colors and warm comfort mimic the world outside while creating a sanctuary-within-a-sanctuary for guests.
The Spa at Callaway Gardens will highlight the property’s unique connection to its natural surroundings by combining the timeless and soothing treasures of its unique locale with the very latest in modern relaxation technology and services.  Spa guests will enjoy a wide array of classic and innovative treatments delivered by a talented and experienced staff of relaxation specialists.
The 13 treatment rooms in The Spa at Callaway Gardens will accommodate a wide range of offerings including traditional massage, hydrotherapy treatments, Vichy showers, couples’ treatments and more.  The facility will also include a health club, a yoga and exercise room and a retail and salon services area.
Partners: Noble Investment Group and Callaway Gardens
The announcement of the new Lodge and Spa at Callaway Gardens® is the latest of many highlights in the successful partnership between Noble Investment Group and Callaway Gardens.
The partnership began in January of 2005, when Callaway Gardens brought in Noble Management Group, the operating arm of Noble Investment Group, as a key part of the strategy to reinvent the entire Callaway Gardens experience.  Callaway Gardens includes the world-famous gardens, hospitality offerings and wide range of amenities throughout the resort.  Noble’s presence began paying immediate dividends thanks to the implementation and execution of leading systems and processes and a renewed service culture.
Since January, Callaway Gardens has seen a significant increase in revenue and extensive improvements in its food and beverage operation.  In addition, the team has engineered a number of positive structuring changes that have greatly improved efficiency in a variety of departments, and is overseeing a number of revitalization and restoration projects, including investments in the cottages, the Mountain Creek® Inn and more.   Golf, a staple of the Callaway Gardens experience since its inception, is in the midst of its own renaissance.  This includes ongoing enhancements and upgrades to its world-class Mountain View course and an emphasis on inclusive programming that caters to all types of players.  The recent refurbishment and rededication of the Cecil B. Day Butterfly Center drew extensive media attention from around the world.
And now, a mere nine months after their partnership began, Noble and Callaway Gardens are breaking ground on a project that will help the resort secure its place among the finest destinations in the Southeast.
“We have great respect for the natural beauty of Callaway Gardens, for its remarkable history and for its unparalleled legacy as a land steward,” said Mit Shah, president and CEO of Noble.  “Our job is to ensure that we can help reinvest in and protect the original vision of Cason Callaway, and help to ensure that generations of future guests can enjoy all the resort has to offer with four star lodging amenities.”
One key element of the Noble strategy has been the installation of a talented and experienced leadership team at Callaway Gardens. Vice President and Managing Director Robert McEleney has been instrumental in countless hospitality success stories.  His more than 20 years in the business includes leadership roles at The Turning Stone Resort, ITT Sheraton Corporation, The Resort at Squaw Creek Valley, Olympus Hospitality Group and Millennium Hotels and Resorts.  Director of Marketing Mary Sanders served on the executive team that is widely credited with the rejuvenation of The Homestead, one of America’s true classic resorts, in Hot Springs, Virginia.  Director of Food and Beverage Tony Labotos is an acclaimed F&B professional with vast experience including operating his own chain of successful Georgia restaurants.
One of the hallmarks of Noble is a commitment not only to its assets, but to the people and places that surround them.  “We have a strong commitment to the communities in which we work and live,” said Shah.  “And we look forward to carrying this commitment through The Lodge and Spa at Callaway Gardens.  This project represents a significant benefit related to job creation, marketability, tourism and revenue to Pine Mountain, Harris County and the State of Georgia.”
Biographies of Project Team
Mit Shah - President and CEO, Noble Investment Group

Shah grew up on the lodging side of the family’s real estate business where he worked in every operations position from rooms and housekeeping to sales and engineering. After earning an economics degree from Wake Forest University, where he is currently a member of the Board of Trustees, he enjoyed a successful investment banking career in Atlanta. As the national economy began to transition in the early 1990s, Shah formed Noble to serve as a value driving hospitality investment, operating and development organization to invest family capital in the lodging industry. Now a nationally acclaimed organization, Shah has built a best in class team of professionals that together have led Noble to achieve significant investment returns and equity multiples, growth and prosperity - including the acquisition of Stormont Hospitality in 2003 and the development of four investment platforms representing capital of over $1 billion. 
Shah is a member of the advisory board for Marriott International and InterContinental Hotels Group and a member of the board of the Morehouse School of Medicine, Calloway School of Business at Wake Forest, and the American Hotel and Lodging Association. 
For his leadership, the business press has named Shah one of the most influential leaders in lodging and business. He has been profiled in Newsweek magazine as one of the 20 Most Powerful and Influential South Asians in the US, in the Atlanta Business Chronicle as one of the Most Influential Leaders in Atlanta, and in Georgia Trend magazine as one of the “Top 40 under 40” leaders in Georgia. He also has been called one of the most influential industry leaders in the 21st century by Lodging Hospitality magazine and Lodging magazine. 
"Delivering the Greatest Customer Experience to Noble hotel guests is not only our mission, it will be the means by which we will achieve preeminence as a hospitality company,” states Shah.
Bob Morse - Chief Operating Officer, Noble Investment Group

Bob Morse is Chief Operating Officer of Noble Investment Group and President of the company’s management division, Noble Management Group. Morse believes that “for Noble to be the best hospitality organization in the business, we must continue to be the best operator by consistently driving results across all segments of our business.”
As Chief Operating Officer of Noble, Morse is responsible for all hotel operations and for optimizing Noble’s balanced scorecard approach with the delivery of management resources, processes and practices throughout the organization. He also serves on Noble’s internal investment committee as the organization continues to execute on its broad investment strategy. As president of Noble Management Group, Morse directs the results and guidance of the increasing operating portfolio, as well as actively seeks out new opportunities for the company to provide value-added hotel, resort and conference center management.
Prior to joining Noble, Morse was Chief Operating Officer for Interstate Hotels & Resorts, Inc. (NYSE:IHR), the nation's largest independent hotel management company, where he was responsible for overseeing the company's portfolio of more than 330 managed properties and over $2.3 billion in annual revenue. Before joining Interstate in 2001, he was president, the Americas and executive director of Millennium and Copthorne Hotels, plc. He also has served as president of the Homestead Suites extended stay brand, president of the franchise division of ITT Sheraton Corp., and president of Four Points Hotels by Sheraton. 
Morse has a successful track record with all asset types in diverse geographies/markets throughout North America and abroad. He is regarded as a tremendous leader and hotel operator throughout the industry and has a huge bias for action.
He holds a B.A., Hotel, Restaurant and Travel Administration, University of Massachusetts.  Morse’s current affiliations include:  Board of Trustees - American Hotel and Lodging Association Educational Foundation;  Board of Directors - Intercontinental Hotels Group –  (IAHI); Chairman, Board of Advisors - Crowne Plaza Hotels and Resorts; Board Member – Starwood Hotels and Resorts North American Owners Advisory Council; Board of Visitors – University of Massachusetts School of Restaurant and Travel Administration; and frequent speaker at hospitality and real estate conferences and meetings 
Steven Nicholas - Executive Vice President, Noble Investment Group

As executive vice president of operations, Nicholas oversees the day to day leadership of Noble's assets with the processes, metrics and internal resources that make Noble a preeminent balanced scorecard organization.  
A graduate of Cornell University School of Hotel Administration with an MBA from the Goizuetta Business School at Emory University, Nicholas oversaw restaurant operations in New York City before becoming the youngest general manager and then youngest area manager for PROMUS Hotels. Nicholas began his career at Noble in 1997 as a Regional Director of Operations where he led the opening and “Nobleizing” of over 20 Noble hotels throughout the east coast. He also was a key member of the executive team to oversee the development and implementation of numerous customized technology solutions. These innovative solutions save time, ensure consistency and quality control, shorten new team member learning curves, speed new hotel entries to market, increase management control over vendors, and enhance Noble’s reputation as a technology leader in the industry. Nicholas is quite clear in relating “technology solutions empower us to make decisions faster and serve guests better."  As executive vice president, Nicholas is an integral part of ensuring the success of the company. 
Mark Rafuse - Chief Financial Officer, Noble Investment Group

“A streamlined, efficient organization like Noble reacts quickly to changes in the market, allowing us to continually make investment decisions that add value to our stakeholders.”
As Chief Financial Officer of Noble, Rafuse directs ongoing financial activities of the company as well as evaluate risk. Rafuse is the lead contact for Noble's financial relationships and is committed to Noble being the best hospitality company in the industry.
Rafuse has a proven track record of utilizing his financial expertise to expand high growth public and private companies and positioning them to a higher level of performance. He has held senior finance positions with publicly traded Liuski International as their CFO as well as private companies, BMW Wood technology and Pratt Industries. As vice president and treasurer of Lodgian, Inc., he successfully completed a $565 million balance sheet recapitalization.
John Cooper - Senior Vice President of Development, Noble Investment Group

John Cooper is senior vice president of development for Noble.  The company and its predecessors have developed over $750 million in hotels, conference centers, and resorts.  Cooper began his career with Stormont Trice Development Corporation in 1997.  
Cooper ensures all of the development aspects are tailored to meet needs of each project, which include Financial Services, Technical Services, Development Services, Project Management, Asset Management, and Consulting.  He has successfully lead many projects to completion such as: the 750-room Marriott Biltmore Waterfront and Conference Center, the 300 room Marriott and Cool Springs Conference Center, the 400 room Memphis Marriott expansion and renovation and the award winning Marriott Hotel and Embassy Suites Hotel conversion in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Cooper attended school at Arizona State University where he earned a degree in construction management.  
Robert McEleney - Vice President/Managing Director at Callaway Gardens, Noble Investment Group

McEleney has been instrumental in countless hospitality success stories during his more than 20 yearsin the business.  After beginning his career with ITT Sheraton Corporation, where he rose to Vice President, Area Director of Operations, he has held leadership positions with The Resort at Squaw Creek Valley (CA), Ihilani Resort and Spa (HI), American Skiing Company, Olympus Hospitality Group and Millennium Hotels and Resorts.  McEleney’s experience, leadership skills and determination are a driving force behind the revitalization of Callaway Gardens.
Mary Sanders - Director of Marketing at Callaway Gardens, Noble Investment Group

Mary Sanders is a highly respected industry professional who served on the executive team that was widely credited with turning around the venerable Homestead Resort in Hot Springs, Virginia.  During her tenure at The Homestead, Sanders gained invaluable experience managing the sort of organizational and institutional change that is happening at Callaway, and demonstrated a consistent ability to grow revenue in a complex environment.  Sanders brings a solid understanding of the unique mix of history, tradition and first-class recreation and hospitality that Callaway represents, and is a strong asset to the leadership team.

Noble Investment Group is a leading national hospitality organization that owns luxury and upscale hotels and resorts, is a prominent developer of first class lodging, resort and mixed use projects, and is an acclaimed operator of independent destination resorts, convention and conference centers, and upscale hotels affiliated with Marriott, Hilton, Starwood and InterContinental Hotels Group. Noble currently operates over 5,000 hotel and resort guest rooms, more than 600,000 sq. ft. of meeting space as well as championship golf, spa and fine dining operations together with approximately 7,000 hotel rooms operated by Alliance Hospitality Management, a majority owned affiliate of Noble.
Since 1979, Noble and its predecessors have developed and acquired over $1 billion in hospitality assets. In the past year, the company began development on and acquired an aggregate of $300 million in hospitality investments.
Callaway Gardens®, is in Pine Mountain, Ga., 60 minutes southwest of Atlanta and 30 minutes north of Columbus. Callaway Gardens, a man-made landscape in a unique natural setting, was conceived and created by Cason J. Callaway and his wife, Virginia Hand Callaway, for the benefit of mankind.  The purpose is to provide a wholesome family environment where all may find beauty, relaxation, inspiration and a better understanding of the living world.
Callaway Gardens, a public, educational, horticultural and charitable organization, is owned by the non-profit Ida Cason Callaway Foundation?.  Its wholly-owned subsidiary, Callaway Gardens Resort, Inc., a regular business corporation, includes the recreational, lodging and retail facilities at Callaway.  After-tax proceeds go to the Foundation to support its efforts.


Rachel M. Crumbley, Corporate Relations Manager
Callaway Gardens
706-663-5187 (desk) 

Also See: The Non-profit Ida Cason Callaway Foundation Begins Extensive Renovation of the Southern Pine Cottages and the Mountain Creek Inn at Callaway Gardens, Pine Mountain, Georgia / September 5, 2005
The Ida Cason Callaway Foundation Appoints Noble Management Group to Operate the Callaway Gardens Resort & Preserve; Foundation to Partner with Noble to Reinvent Callaway Gardens / December 2004

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