BUFORD — Lanier Islands is looking to draw a second hotel to the southern Hall County resort within 18 months, sales director Mike DiLeone said Tuesday.
“Talks are under way right at this moment,” he said, speaking after a presentation at the resort to the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce’s South Hall Business Coalition.
“If we can have that [second hotel] up and running, that allows us the ability to go out and bring in more regional and national groups, meetings and conferences that we can accommodate on an overflow basis,” DiLeone said.
The resort at 7000 Lanier Islands Parkway, formerly known as Lake Lanier Islands, has one hotel, Legacy Lodge & Conference Center.
Two hotels used to sit on the 1,100-acre resort, the current one and PineIsle Resort, which was torn down in 2008.
At that time, plans called for a new 350-room hotel to take its place as part of an overall effort by the Virgil Williams family to remake the resort.
Much has been done since since 2008, including massive renovations to Legacy Lodge, which used to be known as Emerald Pointe, and improvements to roads and walkways.
But a second hotel never materialized.
DiLeone said the former hotel site is no longer being considered for the new hotel.
“There are a couple other spots we’re looking at,” he said. “When you’ve got [1,100] acres to work with, you’ve got some great spots to look at.”
DiLeone did say the site is being considered for a training center.
“There’s always a vision for everything here and how to enact that is slowly coming back as the economy [recovers],” he said.
In addition, the resort is looking at improving Legacy Lodge, particularly enhancing meeting space, DiLeone said.
The project “may encompass rooms, but the primary task is to improve and increase meeting space,” he said.
DiLeone, who has been at the resort four months after moving from Hilton Head Island, S.C., gave an upbeat report to the coalition about Lanier Islands’ recent performance.
“We are going into 2015 with historic numbers,” he said. “We are bringing groups in from far and wide.”
The tourism industry “has rebounded dramatically since 2008, 2009,” DiLeone said.
The resort has seen “a very steady increase in occupancy rate over the last three years,” he said, adding it had a 57 percent occupancy rate in 2014 and is projecting 60.8 percent this year.