Fuel Hikes Blamed for Wisconsin Resort Woes

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August 7, 2008 by   - () Leave a Comment

The owner of a leading Wisconsin resort blames high fuel prices for diminished business and his decision to sell the resort.
Edward Van Der Molen, president of Van Der Molen Recreational Properties Inc., is seeking a buyer for his Three Bears Resort in Warrens, Wis. The resort features a 93-room hotel and conference center, indoor and outdoor waterparks, a skate park and a restaurant. A 740-site Yogi Bear's Jellystone Park Camp-Resort adjoins the resort.
In a press release, Van Der Molen said his firm is actively seeking a buyer or buyers for the property, according to The Tomah (Wis.) Journal. “The process of selling the resort has been under way for several weeks, and we have a number of interested parties in various stages of fact-finding about the possibility of closing a sale or partnership agreement,” Van Der Molen said.
The resort may close as early as Sept. 29 if Van Der Molen cannot find a buyer.
“Some potential buyers are interested in the Jellystone Park campground only, some are interested in the hotel only, and some parties are interested in controlling the entire resort property,” he said.
“The continuing rise in gas and oil prices and their subsequent effect on the transportation and travel plans of Americans has affected our business like many other businesses,” Van Der Molen said in the press release. “It has not been possible to keep growing the resort at its projected rates during the current difficult economic conditions many of our guests find themselves in.”
Employees received notices on July 29 informing them that if a sale does not occur, a shutdown of all or part of the property is possible, the press release said. The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act notices are required by law, in order to notify workers and government officials of a potential closing, the press release said.
The notice the village received says the facility will permanently close on Sept. 29 or within 14 days after that, if it is not sold by Sept. 29.
"I don’t know” if the announcement comes as a surprise, Warrens Village President Mike Clark said. "I know he's (Van Der Molen) been having a little difficulty financially. I guess we kind of expected something to happen."
People might not be traveling as much, perhaps because of the economy and high gasoline prices, Clark said.
The resort, with 244 employees, is by far the largest employer in Warrens, Clark said.
The resort was opened in 1972 and purchased in 1989 by Van Der Molen, an industrial park developer from Carol Stream, Ill. Van Der Molen added the water and skate parks, hotel and convention center in recent years. The resort received top ratings from both Trailer Life and Woodalls campground directories. Van Der Molen also announced plans for an 18-hole golf course.
Campground brokers contacted by Woodall's Campground Management said the size of the resort and the state of the present market make the sale a difficult one. They placed the resort's value far in excess of $10 million, putting it out of the reach of most buyers, they said.

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