Developers Break Ground on The Course at McLemore in Walker County

The Course at McLemore will provide a mountaintop golf experience like no other in the Southeast. Rees Jones and Bill Bergin spent much of 2017 developing a renovation plan.

On April 23, 2018, developers gathered on Lookout Mountain in Walker County to break ground on a course that will provide a test for the game’s best players, while offering accessibility for the beginners. Here is a brief sample from that event:

The Course at McLemore is part of a larger development, that will include The McLemore Resort Lookout Mountain, Curio Collection by Hilton. The resort hotel will offer 180 rooms, over 10,000 square feet of conference space, a world-class spa and fitness center, infinity edge pools, as well as the redesigned 18-hole golf course.

Would you like to learn more about the changes underway at The Course at McLemore? Click on the book cover to access the course renovation plan in a compact pdf.

McLemore Course Redesign Book

McLemore Resort Lookout Mountain joins the Curio Collection by Hilton

Lookout Mountain, GA – Designed as a mountaintop haven for guests looking for weekend getaways, special occasions and weekday corporate events, The McLemore Resort Lookout Mountain, Curio Collection by Hilton is the result of a partnership between Chattanooga-based Scenic Land Company and Hilton (NYSE: HLT). The upper upscale hotel, conference center and spa, set to join Curio Collection by Hilton in 2020, will offer 180 rooms and over 10,000 square feet of conference space set within a more than 800-acre mountaintop golf resort development. Sitting at over 2,000 feet above sea level, guests will enjoy dramatic, cliffside views across the pristine McLemore Cove and Pigeon Mountain, as well as numerous dining options, a world-class 18-hole golf course and relaxed outdoor amenities. The location is also set against the backdrop of McLemore Cove and its more than 20,000 acres of protected wilderness area.

“As Hilton continues to grow its upper upscale portfolio of Curio Collection properties, we could not be more enthusiastic about the opportunity that northwest Georgia and east Tennessee represent for our brand,” said Matt Wehling, senior vice president, development – North America, Hilton. “As the first high-end resort in the area, the distinctive property will offer one-of-a-kind mountaintop experiences for guests and is an ideal addition to the expanding global collection.”

In addition to the site’s natural and historical amenities, guests staying at The McLemore Resort will have access to a wide array of amenities, including a world-class spa and fitness center, infinity edge pools, as well as an 18-hole golf course, redesigned by Rees Jones and Bill Bergin. The McLemore Resort will also provide visitors with a premier basecamp for exploration throughout Georgia’s Cumberland Plateau. Nearby access to hiking, cycling, mountain biking, rock climbing, bouldering, caving, kayaking, horseback riding and hang gliding makes the location perfect for outdoor adventure and discovery.

Carefully selected for its strategic location, The McLemore Resort will be a short two-hour drive from five major markets, which include Atlanta, Birmingham, Huntsville, Knoxville and Nashville. In addition, the corporate headquarters of 28 Fortune 500 companies are located in the region, representing a significant opportunity for weekday corporate events and conferences.

“The McLemore Resort is a perfect intersection for business travelers during the week and leisure guests on the weekends. No place in the Southeastern United States is as conveniently located and rich in natural amenities as we are,” said Duane Horton, president of Scenic Land Company and developer of The McLemore Resort. “As a native of northwest Georgia I fully appreciate both the beauty of the area’s natural amenities, as well as the economic benefit this resort will bring to the community. By partnering with Curio Collection by Hilton, it allows us to develop a property authentic to Lookout Mountain while leveraging Hilton’s reservation system and its renowned Hilton Honors guest-loyalty program. Our team loves this place and people deeply and is excited about sharing it with visitors from throughout the region and nation.”

“The McLemore Resort will provide a tangible boost to the local economy through job creation and tourism dollars from out of state visitors,” said Shannon Whitfield, Walker County sole commissioner, when confirming Horton’s enthusiasm. “We estimate more than 200 direct employment opportunities will be created, along with hundreds of secondary jobs thanks to this resort. Many of these positions will offer pay above the current per capita income in Walker County. The McLemore Resort represents a tremendous opportunity for economic growth in northwest Georgia.”

Leading operations for The McLemore Resort is Euan McGlashan, co-founder and managing partner of Atlanta-based Valor Hospitality, who gained attention early in his career with his historic launch of the Cape Grace luxury hotel in Cape Town, South Africa. Under McGlashan’s leadership, Cape Grace was voted Best Hotel in the World by Condé Nast Traveler Magazine in 2000.

“Working on The McLemore Resort with Scenic Land Company and Curio Collection by Hilton brings together my passion for introducing people to new, beautiful settings and creating best-in-class hospitality experiences for them,” said McGlashan. “The team assembled here is driven and devoted to the project’s long-term success and positive impact on the State of Georgia. Valor Hospitality is committed to creating exceptional and enjoyable experiences for our guests. I am confident that The McLemore Resort is going to do just that when we open the doors.”

Funding for The McLemore Resort is provided in part by Scenic Land Investments III, a Limited Partnership consisting of a select group of investors from the Southeast and Midwest.

Walker County Reveals Economic Impact Potential from Planned Hotel/Resort Development

LaFayette, GA (June 9, 2017) – Over 150 Walker County residents attended one of two town hall meetings on the Canyon Ridge Resort development this week. Walker County Commissioner Shannon Whitfield, Walker County Development Authority Chairman Robert Wardlaw and Scenic Land Company President Duane Horton provided information on the project and potential financial benefits. Following their presentation, the panel fielded more than 60 questions from the public over the course of the two meetings.

In the coming days, responses to those questions will be posted online in a FAQ for those unable to attend one of the meetings. One question that came up multiple times dealt with the tax abatement, and why the developer needs a 30 year incentive if he believes so much in the project.

It’s no secret, Walker County is financially broke and badly in debt. The county does not have the funds necessary to provide the infrastructure required to support this project. In addition a fully equipped Fire and EMS station, other services traditionally provided by governmental entities need to be addressed.

In the case of the Canyon Ridge Resort development, Scenic Land Company plans to pay for and build the infrastructure on its own. The tax abatement provides Scenic Land Company with a rebate of sorts for funding community improvements that government typically handles. It also places Scenic Land Company on a more level playing field to compete against similar projects, many of which are funded by cities and states.

Here are a few other notes from the town hall meetings:

  • Property taxes on the project site today and for Years 1 through 5: $16,688 annually
  • Property taxes on the project site for Years 6 through 30: $121,353 annually
  • Total sales tax revenue from project for local governments within Walker County: $660,000 annually
  • Hotel/Motel Excise tax revenue: Estimated at $770,000 annually to market & promote tourism in Walker County
  • Projected tax revenues to Walker County over 40 years WITH project: $78,872,405
  • Projected tax revenues to Walker County over 40 years WITHOUT project: $1,866,720
  • Developer must employ 180 full-time employees and invest $100 million in the project to earn the full abatement
  • Total direct jobs: 292 (hotel/resort and related jobs, excluding construction)
  • Per capita income in Walker County: $21,430 (Georgia Department of Labor Area Labor Profile 2015)
  • Average compensation for resort/hotel employees: $37,000
  • Average daily room rate: $280
  • Occupancy rate: 60% to 70%
  • Number of visitors a year: 35,000 to 50,000
  • 71% of revenue to come from out of state

Future steps:

  • Developer must finalize financing
  • Walker County must create a Special Tax District for residents of the Canyon Ridge community by the end of 2017
  • State of Georgia must approve Tourism Development Act incentive
  • Georgia’s General Assembly must approve a Hotel/Motel tax for Walker County in the 2018 legislative session