Lakeside luxury: Honey Creek Resort State Park now open

Posted on June 29, 2011

By Jason McGrann

MORAVIA — A vision nearly 40 years in the making will come to fruition Sept. 19 with the opening of the Honey Creek Resort State Park on the northern shore of Rathbun Lake in Appanoose County.

The $58 millon resort, located on 850 acres, offers 105 guest rooms and suites, a 6,000-square-foot convention center, 18-hole championship golf course, 9,000-square-foot indoor water park, dining, RV park, nine miles of hiking/biking trails, boat-docking facilities, 28 cabins and a variety of exciting outdoor adventures with interpretive programs and activities.

The state of Iowa purchased the land from the U.S. Corps of Engineers at the Honey Creek Resort location in the 1970s with ambitions to construct a resort, which was on hold until recently.

“They got funding three or four years ago and started construction a year and a half ago,” said Honey Creek Resort State Park General Manager Jeremie Slagle.

The resort will officially open its doors on Friday.

“We’re doing a fairly soft opening for the first month with our grand opening scheduled for Oct. 17. The governor will do his dedication ceremony that Friday night. There will be a band playing, a big dinner, a presentation and ribbon cutting,” Slagle said.

The resort has been called the only of its kind in the state because of the variety of amenities and activities.

“For the things that we have, it’s the only one in Iowa,” said Slagle.

Honey Creek already has a steady stream of business lined up for the upcoming months and has events booked as far as two years in advance.

“We have things already booked out to 2010,” said Slagle. “I think we have a wedding every Saturday from now through November, starting the last week of September. Pretty much for the next 8-10 weeks we have a convention, which is Monday through Friday. Business will probably drop off in February and March and pick up next spring, and I think we have a wedding every weekend next summer.”

The resort park has 138 employees (80-85 full time), making it one of the largest employers in Appanoose County, which will have an economic impact on the county and the southern Iowa area.

“It will be hard to judge until we’re open for about a year. But just the jobs we’ve created will help. Just to see some other businesses benefitting from us. We’re hosting Summer Splash next year. The Pheasants Forever Banquet that we lost this year we will have next year and that brings 5,000 people to the area, which obviously we can’t house that many,” said Slagle.

The restaurant, Lakeshore Grille, has a 175-seat capacity inside and has a wraparound outdoor patio that can accommodate 150 people.

“In the summertime we’ll do some live music out there,” Slagle said.

“I am confident that Jeremie will continue to help deliver an incredible guest experience at Honey Creek Resort State Park in Moravia,” said Lee Fundanet, director of operations of Central Group Management, LLC, in a press release. Central Management Group is the company overseeing operations at Honey Creek.

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources will have interpreters at the resort that will execute daily and weekly programs that are free and open to the public. Year-round programs include day and night hikes, live animals, fishing adventures, exploration activities, campfire programs, crafts and games.

The Preserve

The Preserve, an 18-hold championship golf course at Honey Creek, will also open Friday. Due to recent weather and above-average rainfall, only nine of the 18 holes will be available this season.

Darin Fisher is the PGA golf pro and director of golf operations at the course.

“We’re something that this part of the state has never seen,” said Fisher. “It’s more prevalant in the metro — the resort-type feel. We’ll have golf attendants out front greeting golfers, taking the clubs and getting the cart ready. All the golf carts have GPS with a screen that will show yardage. I pride myself on making the customer service here first class. We’re going to treat everybody as if this is the first and only time they’re going to come here, and we’re going to make a great impression.

“I couldn’t ask for anything better; it’s just awesome,” said Fisher.

Since the entire course will not be open, The Preserve will be running a special until the end of the season, which is around Dec. 1 depending on weather. For $35 during the week and $40 on weekends, golfers can play unlimited golf with a cart included.

Normal rates next year during the prime summer season will be $47 during the week and $58.50 during the weekend for 18 holes. Replay rates are around $25 for an additional 18 holes. Season passes will also be available for around $1,600 per year and includes unlimited golf and a cart.

“We’re going to be right up there and rival The Harvester, TCI (Tournament Club of Iowa) and the Amana Colonies and all those places,” added Fisher.

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