Manistee National Golf & Resort to close for season

FILER TOWNSHIP — After several winter seasons with the financial numbers not up to projections for the owners of Manistee National Golf & Resort, they have decided to close the hotel and resort facilities from Nov. 26 through April 1.

“November 26, the Saturday night of Thanksgiving weekend, will be our last night, and we’re shooting to open on April 1,” said Doug Bell, Manistee National’s director of golf and general manager. “A letter is going out to all of our membership this week explaining why the decision was made.

“Would I make this call? No, I want to stay open. But I have to respect that the owners are going to try to go seasonal this year and look at the books at the end of the winter and see if they saved any money. I’ll still be here answering phones and selling next year, because we’ve already started that process.”

Bell said that every year the owners analyze how the last winter was, what the projections were, how the pre-bookings are looking and then consider whether to stay open or close.

“They decided the winters have gotten so tough and so light that they felt it was in their best interest business-wise to try it one year without being open,” Bell said. “I don’t know if it’s going to happen again next year or not, but they want to see if they can save a few dollars.”

According to Bell, the winter season at the hotel has been well supported by local businesses with rooms booked for corporate travelers and temporary employees.

“It seemed like when I first came the winters were really strong on the weekends with youth groups coming up to the ski resorts and things like that,” said Bell, who’s been at Manistee National for 11 years. “But that’s really quieted down even though we were making inroads with snowmobilers the last couple of years.

“I’d have to blame it on the economy more than anything,” he continued. “But we just finished a great summer season — probably the best year that we’ve had since I’ve been here. But, the owners just want to try to keep some of that money in the bank instead of just having it go away for the next five months.”

With the economy down, is travel down, too?

“It’s hard for me to say because, like I just said, our hotel just had its best year,” Bell said. “Our high water mark was 2007. I think if you asked any of the hotel owners in town or in the state, 2007 was the benchmark year. After 2007, everybody steadily went downhill. Well, we matched 2007 numbers this year. So we had for all purposed in our hotel a lot of travelers. We had a really good summer and talking with the other hotels in town, I think they did, too. Our golf was solid, our food and beverage was up substantially. I think the Pure Michigan campaign and many other things are working.”

Bell said he and superintendent Joel Swanson will be working through the winter, with other employees to be laid off. If the hotel had remained open, seven or eight part-time staffers would have worked through the winter in housekeeping and registration.

Manistee National Golf & Resort is owned by Osprey Recreational Properties, which also owns Wilderness Valley, Black Forest and The Otsego Club and Resort in Gaylord; The Medalist in Marshall and Ridgeview Golf Course in Kalamazoo.

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Posted by Dave Yarnell

Dave was formerly the News Advocate features writer and retired in November 2013.

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