Steven A. Rudnitsky: Miraval plan benefits Cranwell, Berkshires
NEW YORK >> Berkshire County residents, particularly those living in the communities of Lenox, Lee, Pittsfield and Stockbridge, have much at stake in the current Lenox Zoning Board of Appeals deliberations over Miraval Group's plans to rehabilitate Cranwell and transform it into a premier destination wellness resort the company's first in the Northeast.
Miraval Group's plans to expand Cranwell represent the best opportunity in years to attract the millions of dollars needed to stabilize and preserve its historic structures, bring the resort up to modern standards and add previously approved guest rooms. These improvements will ensure Cranwell's future, something we believe is critical to the broader Lenox community.
The community will benefit in many ways, including over 100 new full-time positions, an estimated $1.3 million annually in real estate, sales and lodging taxes (in addition to a one-time, $1.1 million payment for sewer, water and other utility connection fees) and increased property values, given that our investment of more than $60 million will increase the value and appearance of the resort overall as well as the amenities available to area homeowners.
Moreover, unlike the existing resort, Miraval-Lenox will draw guests year-round, greatly benefiting local businesses that suffer when summer tourists and part-time residents leave town.
Indeed, we are very excited about the opportunity to introduce our guests to the local shops, restaurants, museums, theaters and performing arts venues that make the Berkshires so special. That opportunity was a key reason we selected Cranwell. We will integrate local events into our marketing to provide more compelling reasons for guests to book stays at Miraval-Lenox and to help promote the greater community.
Cranwell employees will benefit by adding wellness to their skill set, working in roles not currently available at the resort and, potentially, rotating to our Tucson property during the winter, its peak season.
Cranwell has long been enjoyed as a recreational facility by people throughout Berkshire County, who come to play a round of golf, bring their families for a swim, challenge one another at tennis, relax with a massage, work out in the fitness center or enjoy a meal at the Mansion or Sloane's Tavern. We are unequivocally committed to maintaining that tradition.
Specifically, our plans will preserve Cranwell's golf course, tennis courts, outdoor pool, Sloane's Tavern and existing fitness center, with its indoor pool, sauna, whirlpool, steam room, fitness classes and spa services. These facilities will continue to be open for community use as they are today for a modest charge. As we have noted previously, some of our neighbors have specific contractual access rights, which will continue to be honored.
In addition, the public-at-large will continue to be welcomed at the Mansion, where everyone will be able to enjoy a newly renovated restaurant served by a new, state-of-the-art kitchen. Finally, we will offer a year-round discount for Berkshire County residents to experience the new, world-class Miraval-Lenox spa.
Much has been discussed about access. Our plans call for a new, tree-lined walkway around the campus, with entrances to the Mansion, fitness center, Sloane's and outdoor pool. While we must secure the perimeter to ensure the privacy and security of our guests, local residents always will be welcome to use their discount privileges to enjoy the new spa, like any guest.
We are distressed that misinformation has clouded the discussion about our plans for Miraval-Lenox. We appreciate everyone's interest in this project and their passion for preserving Cranwell. I can assure you that our plan puts the preservation of Cranwell's historic structures, expanded employment, community access and engagement with local businesses and attractions at the top of our priorities.
We welcome the opportunity to share our vision and plans with the community so that everyone can make a well-informed decision as to their support or opposition to the redevelopment of Cranwell as Miraval-Lenox. We encourage local residents to call us at 413-551-4448 or leave a note on our website at www.miravallenox.com for further information.
Steven A. Rudnitsky is president and CEO of Miraval Group.