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