The lodge and conference center at one of north Georgia’s most popular state parks will soon get a major renovation. Once complete, Unicoi State Park visitors will enjoy improved guest rooms and meeting facilities, a beautiful courtyard, additional dining options and much more.
During renovation, the lodge and restaurant will close, but the park’s campground, cottages, beach, picnic shelters and other facilities will remain open. Guests will still be able to enjoy ranger programs such as guided hikes. Officials from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR) expect to close the lodge on December 1, 2012 with the projected re-opening in the fall of 2013.
“Unicoi State Park is one of Georgia’s premier destinations, bringing thousands of people to Helen and our mountains,” said DNR Commissioner Mark Williams. “However, the aging facilities have lost their luster and revenue has been declining. It’s important for us to invest in the future of this property so that it remains a major attraction, as well as an economic benefit to White County and the state.”
While the basic layout of the lodge, conference center, restaurant and room clusters will not change, visitors will notice many improvements. These include, but are not limited to:
- A new lodge entrance and lobby will welcome overnight guests to the 97,468-square-foot facility. Accessibility will be improved through a new lobby elevator, land grading and numerous ramps throughout the grounds. Traffic flow at the drop-off area will be improved.
- To accommodate a greater variety of guest rooms, the number of rooms will be reduced from 100 to 97. Overnight guests will be able to choose from double, queen, king, suite and loft configurations. All will feature flat-screen televisions and Internet access.
- The current courtyard which is surrounded by guest room clusters will be redesigned with a fire pit, more seating areas, event space and landscaping. A nearby playground will add to the family atmosphere.
- Groups as large as 500 people will enjoy new conference facilities, more break-out rooms and seating areas, and improved lighting and audio.
- A new grill and lounge will expand the park’s dining options, with indoor and outdoor seating, as well as televisions for watching sports. The current restaurant will keep its trademark stone fireplace and buffet, but will be brighter and modernized.
“Unicoi State Park’s guests will enjoy a much better experience with new, fresh guest rooms and top-notch meeting facilities,” said State Park Director Becky Kelley. “We envision conference attendees and weekend travelers enjoying dinner and refreshments out on the new grill’s patio, as well as weddings and parties in the beautiful courtyard.”
Stevens & Wilkinson and Breedlove Land Planning are the architects and landscape design firm selected to handle the project, funded by $8.9 million in general obligation bonds.
While the lodge and conference center are closed, park guests will still be able to camp, stay in cabins and rent picnic shelters inside Unicoi State Park. They can enjoy several miles of hiking and biking trails, swimming in the cool mountain lake, ranger programs, geocaching, fishing, birding and other activities. Large groups that would normally use the conference facilities will be referred to the three other Georgia State Park lodges: Amicalola Falls in Dawsonville, Little Ocmulgee in McRae and George T. Bagby on Lake Walter F. George.
“We want to emphasize that Unicoi’s lodge, restaurant and meeting facilities are still open for most of 2012,” said Kelley, “so our visitors have a wonderful summer and fall to look forward to. We’ll be accepting lodge reservations through the end of this November.”
To learn more about the state park, visit GaStateParks.org/Unicoi. Reservations can be made online or by calling 1-800-864-7275.