Amid years of financial losses from the ASUC-managed Cal Lodge, the student government has now hired two consultants in hopes of increasing the profitability of the property, which has traditionally served as a retreat location for students, organizations, faculty and alumni.
The two consultants, Haas School of Business MBA candidates Jan Shelly Brown and Anouk Roos, were appointed this semester and have spent their time thus far evaluating the financial viability of the lodge, which has been plagued with expensive damages and lack of consistent bookings in recent years. In 2011-12, the lodge lost more than $27,000.
The two consultants are scheduled to present a new business model for the lodge by the end of the semester. The new plan is expected to develop a new management structure, renovate the property and find new promotional strategies to connect students with the Cal Lodge, according to Nolan Pack, ASUC executive vice president.
Hopes are that, with the new strategy, renovations will begin in the summer to make the property safe and more attractive to future guests and optimistically allow the lodge to reopen for the winter season.
Built in the late 1930s by UC volunteers from the forestry program, the property has been a financial yoke around the neck of the ASUC for many years. Pack said the ASUC formally voted in February to close the lodge. But Dan Borge, the manager of the lodge, has continued to take reservations until June, when he says his contract expires. Yet Pack said Borge has been working out of a contract for at least two years and has been operating under the terms of his previous contract, though Borge said he has been working on a contract that was renewed last April.
Borge takes issue with some inconsistencies within the ASUC, such as the senate’s yearly turnover and student leadership overseeing the property. He has since sought legal advice in response to the ASUC’s decision to close the lodge and is determined to continue its operation. One point of contention is the exact date of when the lodge would close based on the senate’s decision. The ASUC legal counsel is also reviewing the situation.
“With the constant change of the ASUC and how it currently operates, there is no consistency and there is no follow-through,” Borge said. “Every year, we get new bosses; every year, there is a new idea.”
The ASUC says it is the only student government that owns a property independently from the university. In the past, there have been talks to sell the lodge. In 1997, a deal fell through due to liability concerns.
“The building needs significant repair, and we need a new management model, in addition to a solid business plan,” Pack said in an email. “We’ll reopen the Cal Lodge once the business plan has been implemented and the building has been renovated.”