The State of Wisp Resort, Deep Creek Lake, MD
The State of Wisp Resort, Deep Creek Lake, MD. I’d like to try to clarify the state of Wisp Resort and the surrounding real estate on the mountain. There have been rumors and sensationalism in some of the headlines and I would like to try to state the facts as I know them.
First of all, Wisp Resort, which is owned by Recreational Industries, owns the ski resort and Wisp’s public golf course. Wisp Resort itself is a healthy, vibrant, profitable business and is poised to begin snowmaking for the 2011/12 season in less than 90 days. The first scheduled date for ski area operations is Friday, November 25 and Wisp is about to complete a positive record-breaking summer operation. To get an idea of the degree of success, gross revenues at Wisp have risen from $9 million to $16 million over a 5-year period with profitability increased more than three-fold.
The Lodestone Golf Course and surrounding home sites were developed by Wisp Resort Development (WRD). The decline in the economy couldn’t have come at a worse time for the Lodestone golf course and the surrounding homesites, putting a strain on WRD’s ability to meet their new obligations. Just 20 of the 60 developed sites in Lodestone have been sold and the remaining 137 sites are still in the development stage. Having spent the last 24 years of my life building golf courses that support the surrounding real estate development, I can testify that typically these developments sold out in a very short time. The good news is that the Lodestone course has been ranked as #3 best play in Maryland and #7 best new course in the country; however, even with an extremely high quality golf course, the homesite market is still quite slow. WRD reports that it is attempting to work with BB&T in an attempt to restructure its loan; meanwhile, there will be no interruption in activities at Wisp Resort.
Since its founding in 1955, Wisp has made Maryland’s westernmost county a year-round tourist destination. Vacation homes, some worth millions, ring the 3,600-acre lake. The ski resort is the county’s sixth largest employer with a workforce that swells from 225 in the summer to 650 in the winter. I spoke to Karen Myers, who has ownership interest in both Wisp and Lodestone, who said with her familiar, optimistic smile, “We operate a successful, thriving recreation business at Wisp Resort and we will do everything in our power to turn around the real estate development side of the business as well. Of course, we cannot control the national economy but we can make sure that our Wisp and Lodestone communities have the very best amenities and are offered to consumers at reasonable and affordable prices. Being a 10th generation Garrett Countian, I feel certain that the tenacity that has been passed down through the generations will see us through this economic crisis as well.”