New Target Completion Date is Early 2014
BY LEANN DILBECK –
The re-opening date of the Queen Wilhelmina Lodge has once again been post-poned to early 2014. The lodge closed in March 2012 to undergo a $6.7 million renovation. It was originally scheduled to re-open by this month but was later post-poned to Fall 2013, and now officials are hopeful that as the construction phase nears being “in the dry,” there will no longer be weather delays in the progress.
Gregg Butts, State Parks Director, said the project is currently at 60 percent completion. He said while there have been minor changes, there have been no major changes in the scope of the extensive remodel but did comment on the finite details that will make this renovation “receive rave reviews when the lodge does re-open.”
“Queen Wilhelmina State Park Lodge is a very popular tourism destination on the Talimena National Scenic Drive, and this is the first major renovation since the current lodge opened in 1975. It’s a state treasure, which continues the lodging tradition that started on that very site in 1898.”
The contractor on the project is Wade Abernathy, Inc. of Mt. Ida. Butts said that excluding agreed upon weather related delays, the contract states that the contractor may be penalized up to $3,500 in liquidated damages defined by loss of revenue for each the project runs over.
Among the lodge’s enhancements are new windows, which will be much larger to frame the views from Arkansas’ second highest peak at 2,681 ft. “The panoramic view off the mountain is an important part of the Queen Wilhelmina State Park experience. Our visitors and overnight guests are going to enjoy the more wide open views from all the lodge’s public rooms, including the restaurant, and all the guest rooms,” Butts added.
The exterior of the lodge will feature shingles and stonework. As part of the building’s energy efficient features, new insulated wall will envelope the current building. The lodge will expand from 26,335 square feet to 36,538 square feet to include a new hearth room with fireplace; a completely remodeled lobby, gift shop, and reception/registration desk; two additional guest rooms increasing the total to 40; and more space within each guest room to accommodate two queen-size beds each. Many of the guest rooms will include large, walk0in showers. Four guest rooms on the west end of the first and second floors will include gas fireplaces and spa tubs. Three guest rooms will be barrier-free to meet the needs of visitors with disabilities.
The public restrooms on the first floor will also be enlarged. The upstairs meeting room will also increase in size and feature windows on three sides. This room will offer access to a small balcony overlooking the south view from the mountain. Public restrooms will be located nearby.
To enhance access and also serve the needs of visitors with disabilities, more stairwells and an elevator will be added.
The lodge’s covered north entrance will be remodeled. A wrap-around porch on the building’s south side will provide visitors with comfortable outdoor space for enjoying the views from the mountain. A new porch will also be added to at the west end.
In addition to the new insulated walls on the building’s exterior, many other energy saving features will be added to include a new energy efficient heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning system; energy efficient lighting throughout the lodge; a solar hot water system; and, other energy saving features.
A new laundry will serve the housekeeping staff. And, a new fire protection system will cover the entire building.
Funding sources for the project include Amendment 75, Arkansas’s Conservation Fund, and grant monies from the Arkansas National and Cultural Resources Council. Queen Wilhelmina State Park is one of the 52 state parks administered by the State Parks Division of the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism.