(ROTHBURY, MI) - The new owners and operators of the Double JJ Resort are planning a number of improvements to ensure the future of this popular Western Michigan resort, a favorite for families and golfers, as well as a preferred location for corporate meetings.
Located near Rothbury, Mich., the historic property consists of three distinct resort areas. They include a dude ranch and riding stables, indoor and outdoor water parks, camping facilities, homes and condos, and an Arthur Hills-designed championship golf course, The Thoroughbred.
An investor group, Progressive Resorts LLC, of Michigan, purchased the bankrupt resort on June 30, 2009. Except for the original ranch portion that needs extensive renovations all the facilities are now open to the public. Double JJ is a convenient destination for visitors throughout the Midwest and Canada.
The new owner-operators are American Resort Management LLC, of Erie, Pa., an investor in the property, and Heritage Hospitality, LLC, of York, Pa.
"We became involved with this property when we were called in to evaluate the resort during the bankruptcy proceedings," explained Richard Coleman, senior vice president of operations and development for ARM. "We discovered what a unique place this is. It is different. You just don't have this kind of place anymore. We saw the potential."
Coleman said when the 1,100-acre property went into auction last December he told his colleagues they had to see it.
"We were there within two weeks and within two months (we) put together the money and made a bid," he said. Coleman estimates that Progressive Resorts paid $10.5 million for the property and assets, including the golf course which was purchased in a separate transaction. He stated that a multi-year capital improvement campaign will begin in 2010.
Double JJ first welcomed guests in 1937 as the Jack and Jill Ranch and operated continuously year around until last September 2008, when it was closed after Labor Day. It did not reopen until this July, just in time for the resort's second successful Rothbury Music Festival.
"They did take good care of the assets so we got the golf course going right away. The rodeo, stables and the rest of the property came on line quickly. The indoor water park reopened August 7," Coleman said.
"We will finish the summer with everything in place right now. This fall we are planning special events, including autumn weekends. Then we have an ambitious winter program, which is a surprising time at Double JJ," Coleman said. "We offer the indoor water park, dogsled rides, tubing, skating and a full equestrian program. Next spring we hope to introduce geo-caching, a Segway® program and other new activities. We want to create a cruise-ship-on-land mentality."
The company is in negotiation with Madison House Inc., one of the top live production companies in North America, to continue the music festival and bring more such events to the area. An estimated crowd of over 35,000 fans attended this year's event July 2-5. There were 14,000 cars on site along with 500 RVs.
Progressive also plans to further expand the many real estate opportunities at Double JJ. The real estate office is offering sales of fractional ownerships for the popular family cabins, as well as condos and high-end home sites. Future capital improvements include the construction of a conference center in the next 12-16 months and the possible development of a parcel of land in back of the golf course into an exclusive area featuring pro sports celebrities and extreme sports.
There are also plans to make the entire resort as energy-efficient as possible, with a low carbon footprint as guests will park their cars and get around by foot, bicycle, or golf cart.
"We plan to cut many more trails and paths through the property to make this possible," Coleman said. "Ultimately, we hope to use it as a model for others in the world to come and see."
The energy saving effort will be directed by an investor, Tom Kiser, a specialist in energy efficiency.
"We believe that the future of travel is fun and authentic family experiences," Coleman said. "Here you can go from shooting a bow and arrow in the morning to a great steak dinner in the evening. You could never afford to build this again. We were in love, so we chased our hearts."