Report: Callaway Gardens has its back against a wall

Tony Adams of the Columbus Ledger Enquirer this morning has an eye-opener about a botanical icon built by one of Georgia’s founding Republican families: Callaway Gardens, which once drew nearly 1 million visitors annually, has seen attendance drop by nearly two-thirds:

Its back now against the wall because of heavy debt, Ida Cason Callaway Foundation, the Pine Mountain, Ga., resort’s nonprofit parent organization, has made the dramatic decision to sell roughly 4,000 acres of the 13,000 acres it owns to wipe away that debt and start anew. A prospective buyer is waiting in the wings.

“I can tell you the operations, the resort, has been suffering for a long time,” Edward Callaway, chief executive officer and chairman of the foundation’s board, said …. “The first major dip where our revenues really dropped was after 9/11. It just stopped and people quit traveling.”

Management has been sliced by more than half, and roughly 300 jobs have been lost since 2004, when full-time employment stood at 300. A Waffle House subsidiary is involved in the rescue.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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32 comments Add your comment

ByteMe

May 20th, 2012
11:29 am

The haves and have-nots… those that have, go to places that are more upscale and don’t feel so… old. Those that don’t have, don’t go except for day trips, and they don’t spend so much when they get there.

GodHatesTrash, Superstar

May 20th, 2012
11:33 am

Perhaps a Waffle House exhibit could be added to the offerings at Callaway? Along with the incredible butterfly exhibit, maybe they could offer a “World of Coke”-type room where Waffle House home fries could be sampled in their endless combinations of scatterings, smotherings, coverings, chunkings, etc. This would have a strong appeal with the locals, who would probably camp out there for hours….

Ted

May 20th, 2012
11:57 am

With rare exception, the haves and have-nots…………….and those that did and those that did not.

Cynthia Tucker McKinney

May 20th, 2012
12:06 pm

This Owebama economy is going like gangbusters. Recovery is all around us.

JSH

May 20th, 2012
12:12 pm

I was at Callaway for the Atlanta Symphony concert on the beach and Bo Callaway got up and said it was a great day for Callaway Gardens. He said even though attendance was down, they had managed to pay off all outstanding debt on the gardens. He also said that they were going to do some fund raising events in the future. All in all, he was looking at a great future for the gardens.

HeresAnIdea

May 20th, 2012
12:15 pm

Here’s a thought.. it costs too much for very little return. Especially these big “marquee” events and even basic events like fireworks. The buildings are dated but not nearly as much as the lights at Christmas. That is just embarrassing. The Callaway staff needs to go visit Rock City up near Tennessee to see how to do a proper Christmas event.

Phyllis McKenzie

May 20th, 2012
12:21 pm

It would be so nice to offer junkets from Metro Atlanta for families and gardeners like myself who LOVE Callaway but really don’t enjoy driving alone down there. Maybe even a package deal with lodging for those who would like to go for the weekend. Callaway is a treasure and most people didn’t even know about their struggles.

WOW

May 20th, 2012
12:31 pm

Sad, this is truly one of GA’s treasures. The Christmas light experience is one of the best in the state.

E. Rogers

May 20th, 2012
12:45 pm

Callaway is a lovely, fun getaway for families but the cost is too high. If they could offer more affordable packages, they could attract more visitors.

Rafe Hollister

May 20th, 2012
1:16 pm

It is the inflation. Everything costs too much for the visitor and CG. Oh, I know inflation is reported at 2%, but do we believe that government number, considering that Bernanke keeps printing money everyday and the inflation rate never changes.

drew

May 20th, 2012
1:20 pm

I agree – the cost is way to high at Callaway. Perhaps if they didn’t have a ‘Spa” and other nonsense, and focused on botanicals they could actually make some money.

double

May 20th, 2012
1:38 pm

Typical of BO and the party he belongs to.

Would love to go

May 20th, 2012
2:49 pm

In the early 90’s I could get annual family pass for $50. I would take my sons twice a week in the summer to swim, putt putt, paddleboat and ride the train when it was running. I would pack a picnic lunch and we have some great memories. I checked into renting a cottage and if was WAY out of my price range and it is still high. I think if they lower prices more people would come . I certainly would because it it still out of my price range

Margo

May 20th, 2012
2:53 pm

Try hanging out in your backyard, don’t cost nothin’.

MyTwoGeorgiaCents

May 20th, 2012
4:00 pm

I spent many happy hours at Callaway as a child in the 60’s. Last year, I took my now 82-year-old mom, my 56-year-old brother and my 52-year-old fiance there for the Thanksgiving buffet, and to remember the good times years ago. The grounds and building were still beautiful. But we had one of the worst meals I have ever been subjected to in my life. All the food tasted processed and like the worst cafeteria fare you could imagine. All I could talk about on the way home was how low quality and awful it was. And we paid $35 a person. The only good thing was the glass of wine I had. I am not sure if Waffle House being involved is going in the right direction, but their food services division needs a major rescue.

Jesus Christ crushes NWO, DBMs

May 20th, 2012
4:07 pm

Callaway Gardens might want to take a page from black civil rights organizations. If all attempts at economic survival fails, they can always solicit the federal government for funding provided they support murdering babies via abortion in the womb, open homosexuality in society and the military, the perverted New World Order , homosexual marriage, and perverting our children via of interracial sex and marriage.

Amen?

Frederick Douglass

May 20th, 2012
4:26 pm

Cynthia Tucker McKinney

I went back and read the accompanying piece three times and couldn’t find where Obama was involved anywhere. Obama’s apparently behind every tree for some people……Jeeze!

Jesus Christ crushes NWO, DBMs

May 20th, 2012
5:04 pm

The mystery of iniquity was at work during the days of Frederick Douglass. The perverted New World Order integrationist crowd and their devilish black minions were attempting to pervert our children via interracial sex and marriage as early as the 1800s.

Take good look at Helen Pitts Douglass. She is the wife of integrationist civil rights activist Frederick Douglass.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helen_Pitts_Douglass

Amen?

yuzeyurbrane

May 20th, 2012
5:16 pm

Blaming it on 9/11 is a dog that won’t hunt. Other resorts are thriving. And the proximity to Atlanta should give it a cost advantage. The more likely cause is poor management failing to keep up with the time. A traditional way to go belly-up. How fitting.

A Conservative Voice

May 20th, 2012
5:21 pm

@Jesus Christ crushes NWO, DBMs

May 20th, 2012
4:07 pm

Amen?

Hallelujah and Amen!!!!!

Jesus Christ crushes NWO, DBMs

May 20th, 2012
5:50 pm

What people are missing in the mystery of iniquity is that there are sizable numbers of persons in each race of people who actually hate their own race. By virtue of being born, there are white people who hate white people, Black people who hate Black people, Jews who hate Jews, Chinese who hate Chinese, Koreans who hate Koreans, Mexicans who hate Mexicans etc. All of them have another thing in common. They love the doctrine of integration.

But there is a place in society for this perversion. If all men and women had my disposition or that of the vast majority of people, any specific group of people would perish from the face of the earth if they were unable to reproduce. Therefore, nature has ensured that their seed will survive is some form or fashion via the “perfect back-up imperfection.” It is better to have something left of a race than nothing. Individuals who actually hate their own race will mate with persons in an at-risk group without reservation.

The perverted New World Order integrationist crowd and their devilish black minions have capitalized on nature’s “perfect back-up imperfection” and used and are using it as a weapon against us.

Amen?

Kris T.

May 20th, 2012
5:59 pm

It;s sad for Callaway gardens. Too bad the republicans do not believe in bail outs. However I smell a republican lurking in the mist to snatch up some acreage. Just saying.

William

May 20th, 2012
6:03 pm

I basically grew up at Callaway Gardens in the 1970s and 80s and have very fond memories, however I seldom visit now even though I live in Newnan. The problem is the service, prices, and quality of services. The wait staff would be better off at Burger King or Waffle House – even though Waffle House would be too “fine dining” for the abilities and sensibilities of most of the servers I have encountered over the past couple of decades. Being forced to give them an 18% on top of the overpriced fare adds insult to injury considering how rude and inept they are. The food, ah the food, it is horrible. I know the restaurants are constantly bringing in top notch chefs but they don’t last long because they have to work with the long-time cooks who should have been fired years ago. Instead, they are allowed to run the show and the chefs are just there for show until they give up and leave. The housekeeping, security, retail, and hotel staffs are just as horrible and totally unsuitable for any place wanting to call itself a resort and charge resort prices, and when new managers are brought in to try to “fix” the situation they are micro-managed by the legacy staff and their family members who are new hires. It is a shame, everyone I grew up with still love Callaway Gardens and all say they will still visit on rare occasions, mostly for nostalgia, but will go elsewhere to eat, shop, or accommodate out of town guests. Sadly, the board will never hear what guests have been saying, and what managers report as they walk out the revolving door better known as the Callaway Gardens Personnel Office. I hope it can be saved, but I can’t see it happening.

willow

May 20th, 2012
6:12 pm

yuzeyurbrane
@5:16 pm

I don’t think they are blaming it specifically on 9/11, but just using that to note the time the business fell off. I always remember the 1996 Olympics as the time that metro traffic became suddenly more terrible than it had been. I’m not alone on that one, several of my friends use the same time line. Is Atlanta’s traffic nightmare the result of the Olympics? No. It will always be connected in my mind though.

I wish we could get to Callaway from our area without having to spend either hours stuck in interstate traffic, or slogging slowly along on the back roads. We would love to make day trips but I have no interest in staying overnight or more. I hope they find a way to survive.

Jesus Christ crushes NWO, DBMs

May 20th, 2012
6:25 pm

bob

May 20th, 2012
6:25 pm

Did any of you who are blaming Obama actually read the article Jim linked to? The key events lthe created this crisis took place in 2004 and 2007/8. I’m not even sure why this is a political story. The only reference to politics is where the current Callaway says he thinks it would be bad if Israel attacked Iran.

Jesus Christ crushes NWO, DBMs

May 20th, 2012
6:43 pm

Has anyone seen Oprah Winfrey lately? I just saw her at the Spelman College commencement 2012. She looks to be spiritually, mentally, and physically ill. She looks as if she is knocking at the door of hell.

But be not deceived, God Almighty is not mocked. If you participate in the demonic scheme of the perverted New World Order integrationist crowd and their devilish black minions, you will pay a tremendous price.

Amen?

Frederick Douglass

May 20th, 2012
6:47 pm

JC c
NWO, DBMs @5:04

It’s on now; you had no right to bring my dear departed wife into this fray. She was a saint; as pure as the driven snow……and a might bit whiter if I might add. You sir are without a trace of honor!

Jesus Christ crushes NWO, DBMs

May 20th, 2012
6:54 pm

N……….. Please! Stay in the grave where you belong until the second resurrection. It is then that you will have to give an account for your perverted evil ways.

Amen?

T Smith

May 20th, 2012
7:25 pm

Hope they turn it around! Heard they have a big Memorial Day Weekend Event coming up!!!

Copied this off some site..

53rd Annual Masters Water Ski & Wakebord Tournament, LowLine Customs Car Show, Kids Zone, Great Food & Live Music, US Silver Wings Night Pyro Parachute Team, Laser Tag, Blaster Boats, Mini Golf, Shuffleboard, Aqua Island, and more!!!

honested

May 20th, 2012
9:04 pm

Hmmmmm….
What to do?
arthur blank could build his football thingy here.
They could call mercer reynolds for a (oh I forgot) never mind.

Although they have been stalwart stewards of of rare plants, animals and insects, it seems they have been politically on the wrong side (although that side has been in charge for a decade).

I'm Just Saying...

May 21st, 2012
7:37 am

They desperately need to call the bald dude from Hotel Impossible!!!