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Oglebay Seeks to Leave Good ‘Impression’

February 23, 2011

WHEELING - Visitors to the Ohio Valley often stay at Oglebay Park's Wilson Lodge, and park officials want their guests to leave with a "good impression" of the area.

But it isn't that Oglebay Park just attracts tourists. Local residents are just as apt to utilize the many amenities at the park, said Caren Knoyer, Oglebay's marketing director. The park is financially self-sustaining and a popular destination for many because of its offerings.

Still, Oglebay Park hasn't been immune to the downturn in the economy. Plans to allow drilling for natural gas at Oglebay Park are on hold as the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection's Office of Oil and Gas and park commissioners work with Chesapeake Energy to ensure the park's future.

Knoyer said there likely won't be any new construction at the park in 2011. Renovations in recent years have resulted in 59 new "premium" rooms at the lodge, as well as 212 completely remodeled rooms.

"Every year we have to maintain our facilities," she said. "We just completed the lobby, and the dining room in the lodge had been upgraded to match the view there.

"Each year hundreds of thousands of people are going through the lodge - and we have to keep it looking as best as it can. We want to leave a good impression."

Fact Box

What impact does Oglebay Park have on the community?

A big one, as the park offers a wide variety of outdoor activities - from golf to skiing and snowboarding - along with a zoo, conference center and fine dining for area residents and visitors.

One of the newer offerings at Wilson Lodge is the West Spa at Oglebay. The spa is a 5,000-square-foot area where both guests and local residents can retreat for relaxation and therapy services. Services include massage therapy, body treatments, healing therapy, facial treatments, manicures, pedicures and waxing.

"The spa is doing well," Knoyer said. "It's a great addition to the lodge. It brings in a good mix of people who live in the area, and many who come stay at the lodge."

Skiing has also become a popular offering at Oglebay Park.

In past years, the ski season at the park often was affected by the amount of snow received and how cold the temperatures were. Oglebay Park, though, now makes its own snow.

"We've had a good year because we started earlier," Knoyer said. "Every year, it's been a challenge to keep the snow.

"There's no problem this year. As long as it's cold at night, we can make the snow."

In warmer weather, Oglebay Park becomes a destination for golfers, as two championship courses there draw high marks from the experts. The Robert Trent Jones Course and the Arnold Palmer Course, both at Speidel, are rated high by popular golf magazines, according to Knoyer. Oglebay Park is also home to the 18-hole Crispin Golf Course, and an 18-hole Par III course and driving range.

Visitors also go to Oglebay to visit the Mansion Museum, Waddington Gardens and Schenk Lake. And the Good Zoo seeks each year to add at least one new zoo attraction. Last year, zebras joined the animals at the zoo.

"I'm not sure what we'll be doing this year, but we always try to do something," Knoyer said.

Oglebay is probably best known for its annual Winter Festival of Lights attraction. More than a million lights are spread out over a 3-mile drive throughout the park.

Park officials are continuing with plans to replace all light bulbs used with LED bulbs, Knoyer noted. Approximately half of the lights have been changed over so far during the past three years, and she expects the task to be completed in two years.

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