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Natural Resource Commission Approves New Concession Agreement At Honey Creek Resort

DES MOINES – A new concession agreement for Honey Creek Resort State Park was unanimously approved Wednesday by the Iowa Natural Resource Commission.

The proposal approved by the commissioners is to enter a contract for future operation of the resort with Delaware North Companies (DNC), Parks and Resorts, Inc. The proposal was recommended by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources after having undergone a comprehensive competitive process.

Now that the commission has provided approval, a contract with the firm will be finalized and then a transition team with members of the DNR, DNC and Central Group Companies, the Minnesota-based firm currently managing the resort as it has since the facility opened in 2008. Full transition of the resort to DNC operation is expected to be completed sometime this summer.

“We really cannot say enough good things about Central Group,” said DNR Director Chuck Gipp. “They have done a great job of managing Honey Creek over these past few years and the torch is being passed with the resort in good financial and physical shape.”

In fact, the Honey Creek Resort had its best year ever in fiscal year 2015 generating an annual occupancy rate of 47 percent for the fiscal year running from July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2015. The resort also started fiscal year 2016 with its best month ever in July by topping $1 million in revenue for a month for the first time. The resort generated another $865,000 in August, 2015.

“The commission decision today allows us to move forward in a way that is going to ensure not only the long-term up-keep and maintenance of the facilities, but also result in new amenities being added,” said Gipp.

A new operating agreement was made possible when the Iowa General Assembly in 2013 authorized bonds used to pay for the construction of the resort to be paid off early. While the bonds allowed for the resort to be constructed, the terms associated with that financing limited private investment. Paying off the bonds early opened the door to evaluate operating structures that would provide for private investment and more incentivize increasing revenue by the operating entity.

Honey Creek Resort opened in 2008 and includes a 105-room lodge, conference center, a full-service restaurant and catering service, an indoor waterpark, 28 cottages, an RV park, a boat ramp, a beach, a marina, a large pavilion, a playground, paved and soft trails, an activities building and an 18-hole golf course and clubhouse.

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