Guntersville State Park opens Lodge after 4-year renovation

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 1, 2008

Anyone who visited Guntersville State Park Lodge before it was closed for renovations in 2004 is not going to recognize the place now. The beautiful site perched atop Taylor Mountain with a breathtaking view of Lake Guntersville on the Tennessee River will be a familiar location, but the lodge&8217;s rebirth into a modern facility will leave previous guests with mouths agape.

After almost four years and a price tag that will end up between $24 and $25 million, the lodge has re-opened in grand fashion.

Mark Easterwood, Director of Alabama State Parks, said he hopes this renovation is one of many steps that will restore the appeal of Alabama&8217;s state parks and its wonderful natural resources.

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The Alabama Legislature and Alabama voters passed a bond issue in 1998 to upgrade the parks system. Although other projects have been undertaken, the Guntersville Lodge was the first major outlay of bond funds.

Although the park is now open, a grand opening is scheduled for Feb. 8, and Talmadge Butler, Guntersville State Park Superintendent, is going to be all smiles on that day.

Butler said he could remember talk of renovations as far back as 1997 and then a series of public meetings and discussion about the use of bond issue funds were required before any money could be used.

&8220;As far as I know the last time we (state parks) got any funds through the legislature was 1988,&8221; Butler said. &8220;We were operating on funds raised through user fees. We weren&8217;t making enough profit to plow any money into maintenance, so the parks got in bad shape.&8221;

When the Guntersville State Park Lodge, which opened in 1974, was closed for renovations in March of 2004, there were hopes the work could be done quickly. However, those hopes vanished quickly.

Now that the wait is over, guests can enjoy the new lodge with all the modern amenities expected in a hotel room &8212; mini refrigerators, microwaves, large TVs with DVD players, pillow-top mattresses in either queen or king sizes.

The lodge has 13 suites and 99 hotel rooms. Only 25 of those rooms are parking lot views, so the majority of the rooms have that beautiful view from the bluff side of Guntersville Lake.

Patty Tucker said the only thing she has to sell is the higher room rates.

To entice people to experience the new facilities, the lodge will be running a special for the entire month of February.

David Rainer is with the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.