February 28, 2017 – AS PART OF THE CELEBRATION… the 1905 Basin Park Hotel’s centennial time capsule (circa January 1, 2000) was opened to add memorabilia from today’s 20th anniversary. A divider was placed inside to separate the two levels of “treasures” then resealed for opening in 2100. Pictured is the time capsule -artistically constructed from parts taken from a Tyson’s chicken processing plant- and all the friends who attended the celebratory luncheon.
EUREKA CELEBRATES 20 YEARS OF THE ROENIGKS: THE FULL STORY
(EUREKA SPRINGS, AR) — On February 28, 1997, a couple from East Hampton, Connecticut, came to the Arkansas Ozarks looking for a place to retire. They were seeking a place with interesting people and enjoyable activities; a place where they could make a meaningful, community-wide contribution; and a place where they could call home. Their choice was the top floor of the 1905 Basin Park Hotel located in the heart of Eureka Springs’ downtown historic district.
So they purchased that property and in less than three months later, they purchased the 1886 Crescent Hotel. Not because they loved hotels, but because they were preservationists and did not want to see these two structures deteriorate beyond repair. This was the start of a great marriage between Elise and Marty Roenigk and the village of Eureka Springs.
On Tuesday, February 28, 2017, past employees of the two hotels and friends of Elise gathered here in the Barefoot Ballroom of the Basin Park Hotel for an anniversary luncheon and a program of remembrances. The more than 200 attendees enjoyed a video presentation that highlighted the changes in various categories that occurred during the years of the Roenigk ownership. Those categories and the changes therein included:
- The Buildings – With both hotels contributing to the National Trust for Historic Preservation registry, care has been taken to protect the original facades. However, the Basin Park Hotel has added a Mountainside Spa Sun Deck; The Atrium with its crown of a glass ceiling was enhanced with a surround sound system, LCD projector with an electric screen, and numerous history “window” cases; and the addition of a Skyline Deck used for weddings and as part of the Spirits of The Basin tour. The Crescent has perhaps seen the most construction. What was the burned out plateau of the fourth floor as a result of a 1967 fire was converted into fifth floor living quarters for the Roenigks in a design that replicated the hotel’s original, iconic roofline. Added just below that home on the fourth floor are The Faculty Lounge, a repository for historic hotel memorabilia; and SkyBar Gourmet Pizza and panoramic overlook. The original conservatory, destroyed by a falling chimney weakened by the 1967 fire, was replicated into the new Conservatory, the most popular indoor venue for weddings and receptions, as well as corporate meetings. Perhaps the greatest conversion happened on the Garden Level (basement) of the hotel. A dimly lit “beer joint” was converted into the New Moon Spa that has been growing ever since its inception. It has grown from one room to now occupying nearly the complete bottom level footprint. On that level, enhanced but kept fairly “as it was”, sits “the morgue”, a leftover from the Norman Baker hospital days of the late 1930s. This epicenter of “America’s Most Haunted Hotel” has become the highlight of the nightly hotel ghost tours. Additionally, to assist Crescent guests and visitors to rise and descend, a new elevator has been installed allowing guests now to ride to all five levels.
- Sleeping Rooms – When the hotels were first purchased by the Roenigks all rooms in each hotel received renovations. Now, in an effort to always make the hotels’ product a little bit better each and every year, annual profits are reinvested to update, refurbish and enhance from five to ten sleeping rooms with due diligence devoted to ensure the historic integrity is maintained. However, such things as Jacuzzi tubs, state of the art televisions, and Wi-Fi give these century-old hotels twenty-first century accoutrements.
- Restaurants – While the Crystal Dining Room Restaurant of the Crescent, generally speaking, looks much the same as it did in 1997; the bills of fare have been ever-changing to meet the trending tastes of hotel guests, visitors and local customers. Up on the fourth floor, that restaurant has also morphed from basically a cocktail lounge to a “Dr. Baker” themed eatery to today’s highly popular SkyBar Gourmet Pizza with its canopy-covered alfresco seating affording one of the best panoramic views of the surrounding hills-n-hollers which includes the Christ of the Ozarks statue. Downtown Eureka had the Balcony Bar & Restaurant in ’97 but such enhancements as the canvas canopies, cold-weather curtains, overhead heaters for winter and mist sprayers for summer, and most recently the construction of the Copper Bar overlooking Basin Spring Park have converted it into a “must visit” for a nibble and a sip. In the last two decades, the Basin Park Hotel has also been home to other food and beverage experiments such as a coffee and bakery cave bistro with its War Eagle Mill gift shop, as well as a downtown deli.
- Spas – As mentioned, the Roenigks gave birth to the Crescent’s New Moon Spa. However, this one-room experiment has grown to include a full salon. It is worth noting that during the construction of the salon, Marty made sure the original duck bowling lanes used by the Crescent College and Conservatory for Young Women were restored to become the focal point of the salon’s new floor. The New Moon has also added an exquisite Bridal Studio where brides and her bridesmaids can get dressed, have makeup applied, and up-dos created in a private setting. A spa has also been added to the Basin Park Hotel. What started as the Serenity Spa with its one massage room has grown into Spa1905 that now occupies nearly the hotel’s entire second floor and includes overnight spa rooms for girlfriend getaways. Connected by one step outside, sits the spa’s sundeck with its popular hot tub.
- Miscellaneous – The Roenigks preservation efforts since moving to Eureka have included: the purchase and restoration of War Eagle Mill, and -what is now- the 1901 Gavioli Chapel; restoration assistance to the Writers Colony at Dairy Hollow House and its 505 Spring Street House; purchase of 1,200 prime, pristine acres of land adjacent to the Buffalo River National Park then donated to the Nature Conservancy; the construction of four E. Fay Jones-style cottages carefully placed amid the standing trees on the Crescent’s mountaintop acreage; efforts to redevelop Eureka’s 63 historic springs; and championed the total refurbishing of The Aud, the city’s municipal auditorium, by going to Washington, D.C. to lobby for and then secure for the city a “Save America’s Treasures” matching grant. Their philanthropy has been overwhelming with such organizations as the Writers Colony, Main Stage, Eureka Springs School of the Arts, Carroll County Carnegie Library, Opera In The Ozarks, Eureka Gras, Eureka Springs Trails, University of Arkansas School of Hospitality and Innovation, and a number of other arts, tourism, and preservation entities.
- Numbers – Twenty years ago, the hotels had approximately 30 employees. That number has grown to more than 240 during peak season making the properties the largest employer in Eureka Springs. Revenues have grown from less than $1 million during the first year of operation to an excess of $11 million in 2016. The economic impact both hotels have had on the local and state economies are, conservatively stated, astronomical. For example, local and state taxes alone collected in 2016 were in excess of $1.3 million. Total investment in the two hotels during the past twenty years is nearing the $10 million mark.
“I have had the honor of working with the Roenigks since day one of their hotel purchases,” said Jack Moyer, vice president of operations and general manager for both hotels. “We started our relationship by creating a creed which includes a tenet that perfectly embraces the philosophy of the Roenigks as owners and proprietors of these two lodging properties: Protecting the Irreplaceable. Thanks to dedicated employees during the past two decades combined with Marty and Elise’s guidance to pursue economic sustainability versus a more typical profitability model ensures that our two hotels will be enjoyed by visitors and locals alike for years to come. This is and will continue to be the Roenigks legacy.”
For a video glimpse of those comments and memories presented by the luncheon’s head table and various friends in the audience, one should go to https://youtu.be/SOGbvFERZQE.