Alabama’s Lake Guntersville State Park was spotlighted last week in the USA TODAY feature travel article “Companies looking for meeting spots just park it.” The lodge completed a $25 million renovation in January and has 14,000 square feet of meeting space.
From the article in USA TODAY by Gary Stoller:
“States are trying to boost revenue by upgrading and expanding their meeting facilities, and corporate meeting planners say they’re savings thousands of dollars by booking them instead of hotels or conference centers. Facilities range from a one-room schoolhouse at Utah’s Camp Floyd/Stagecoach Inn State Park to mansions and full-service lodges like the one at Alabama’s Lake Guntersville State Park.
Tim Wishum, the operations director for Alabama State Parks, says state parks are “not Las Vegas or the Miami beachfront.” But “you can rent space for a fraction of the cost” of a big city, and their setting helps companies focus on the reason for the meeting — building business, learning more about their jobs and solving issues. A convention at Lake Guntersville costs about $15,000, compared with $40,000 at a big-city hotel or convention facility, he says.
Many meeting planners “probably haven’t considered state parks as areas for conventions, because they still see them as isolated places where people only hike and fish,” Wishum says. But that’s changing, he says, now that state parks have amenities such as large meeting rooms, wireless Internet access and small rooms for breakout sessions.