By CARL E. FEATHER
Financial performance of the county’s Lodge and Conference Center is ahead of anticipated results so far this year, commissioners learned Tuesday.
In a work session with the board, lodge General Manager Jeannette Petrolia told the board that revenue at the lodge in the first two months was $506,600, which was $75,000 higher than projected in the plan that the lodge submitted to the county last year.
By simultaneously keeping expenses in check, the lodge staff delivered a net profit that was 19 percent higher than planned during January and February.
“We’re really looking very good,” Petrolia said. “We’re positioned very well, and March should be even better. ... At the end of the first quarter, we’ll be looking very strong.”
The operating and net profits do not take into account the debt servicing on the county-owned lodge. And at this time of year, when the lodge does not have the large wedding and tourism business of the summer months, both operating and net profits are negative numbers.
For the first two months of 2013, the lodge had a net loss of $245,400. The operation typically swings into positive territory in early summer. Projections are for a “good” second quarter and a “great” third quarter, Petrolia said.
Petrolia said occupancy during March was ahead of last year, when the lodge had 1,681 guest nights. The estimated performance was 1,773 rooms.
She said the influx of spectators to Spire Institute events is helping boost occupancy on weekends, and overall, the lodge is moving toward more leisure bookings for the summer months. “Leisure (bookings) are running 32 percent ahead of last year,” she said.
The strong leisure bookings performance positioned the lodge well ahead of other state park lodges in Ohio. The lodge’s occupancy rate for January and February was 44.3 percent; the next closest lodge was Punderson, which has only 31 rooms and had a rate of 37.73 percent.
Petrolia said that all guest rooms have flat-screen televisions and all guest bathrooms meet the American Automobile Association guidelines. All fourth-floor guest rooms have been painted, carpets cleaned and upgraded with new bedding.
The first phase of another project, renovation of the indoor pool area, is nearing completion and Petrolia is working with Ashtabula interior designer Toni Carlisle to come up with the decor. The Western Reserve meeting room is getting a facelift, as well: new carpet, paint and buffet counter.
“We’ve been very busy. We decided to accelerate most of our (renovation) projects so we’ll be ready for the (summer) season,” she told commissioners.