April 06, 2022
Herschend Enterprises (Herschend), the nation’s largest family-owned themed attractions and entertainment company, is thrilled to announce that it has reached an agreement to expand its relationship with the Ida Cason Callaway Foundation (Foundation) following two years of successful management of the Callaway Resort & Gardens. Under the organizations’ new agreement, Herschend will assume ownership of the Resort assets – including the lodge, spa, golf courses, beach area and conference center. In addition, Herschend will lease and manage the Foundation’s Virginia Hand Callaway Discovery Center, Cecil B. Day Butterfly Center, Ida Cason Memorial Chapel and gardens.
As it has done for more than 70 years, the Foundation will continue to operate as a non-profit 501c3 with funding provided through resort revenue, gate sales and community donations. Herschend’s lease and management arrangement will strengthen the Foundation’s position and help preserve its renowned community assets.
“This is an exciting and important milestone for the Foundation – one that assures we can continue our philanthropic efforts in the community and continue Cason and Virginia Callaway’s vision of ‘creating a garden so beautiful that it would make visitors want to go home and lead better lives,’ for generations to come,” said Fran Rogers, Ida Cason Callaway Foundation Chairperson. “Herschend Enterprises’ expertise in commercial operations has already led to a significant increase in funding, with the new arrangement providing us an even greater opportunity to grow and achieve our mission of conservation, education and land stewardship.”
“We’re honored to carry on the Callaway legacy by bringing our more than 70 years of experience in destination marketing to further develop Callaway as Georgia’s premier resort destination,” Said Herschend Enterprises CEO Andrew Wexler. “We are wholeheartedly committed to preserving and strengthening all that makes Callaway so beloved and special – and look forward to celebrating the area’s natural beauty with a focused effort on world-class events and activities that complement the surrounding landscape.”
Herschend plans to invest more than $20 million over the next five years for renovations and improvements to the Resort and additional advancements to its world-class events.
“Herschend’s enhanced investment is poised to positively impact the Foundation’s growth and tourism to Pine Mountain, Harris County, and across the Chattahoochee Valley,” said Sonny Horton, VP & GM at Callaway Resort and Gardens. “We’re also thrilled for the Resort employees becoming part of the Herschend team, which will provide them exceptional new benefits, including free tuition through Herschend GROW U and Share It Forward, Herschend’s employee assistance not-for-profit.”
Callaway Resort & Gardens is Harris County’s largest employer and is actively recruiting for full-time, part-time and seasonal career opportunities. Apply online HERE.
Additional information will be made available following the completion of formal agreement documents.
About Callaway Resort & Gardens
For nearly seventy years, Callaway Resort & Gardens has provided “a place of relaxation, inspiration and a better understanding of the living world” for millions of visitors. The destination includes the gardens and resort on 2,500 acres in Pine Mountain, Georgia. Highlights include a tropical butterfly conservatory, discovery center, chapel, inland white sand beach, nature trails, a zip line/obstacle course, and special events. Also, Callaway Resort & Gardens offers meeting space, wedding and event venues, over 500 guest rooms, a world-class spa, a variety of restaurants, shops, 36 holes of golf, fishing, and more.
About the Ida Cason Callaway Foundation
Callaway Gardens was conceived and created by Cason J. Callaway and his wife, Virginia Hand Callaway, to “create a garden so beautiful that it would make visitors want to go home and lead better lives.” In 1950, Cason and Virginia deeded the land that is now Callaway Resort & Gardens to the Ida Cason Callaway Foundation, a foundation previously established by Fuller Callaway Sr. A portion of proceeds from the Resort and gate admissions is gifted to the Foundation to support the expansion and improvement of the Gardens and educational programs.
About Herschend Enterprises
Herschend Enterprises is the parent company for a family of entertainment brands with a collective vision and mission of bringing families closer together by Creating Memories Worth Repeating®. The company’s roots date back to 1950, when the Herschend family founded their first attraction, a small cave tour in Branson, Mo., which later expanded into the famed Silver Dollar City®. Today, Herschend Enterprises’ is recognized as the largest family-owned themed attractions organization in the US., with 11,000+ employees across 26 properties that collectively entertain more than 14 million guests annually. Operating companies within Herschend Enterprises include Herschend Family Entertainment (Dollywood® Parks & Resorts, Silver Dollar City®, Adventure Aquarium®, Newport Aquarium®, Kentucky Kingdom®, and Wild Adventures®), Herschend Live (Harlem Globetrotters®), Herschend Entertainment Studios (Splash & Bubbles® and Chuggington®) and Herschend Adventure Holdings, LLC (Pink Adventure Tours®). For more information, visit www.herschendenterprises.com.