After years of financial losses and an attempt to close the lodge last year, the ASUC-owned Cal Lodge will undergo a change in management from a contracted property manager to an outside company.
The Cal Lodge, located in North Lake Tahoe, has been owned by the ASUC for nearly 80 years. Usually, visitors include student groups, faculty and alumni, but the lodge is open to the general public year-round. It was closed last spring to give the ASUC time to reevaluate the management structure.
The Cal Lodge Committee negotiated with and recommended the hiring of KUBO Hospitality Management, a Bay Area-based company that specializes in hospitality and provides marketing and publicity strategies to increase bookings.
The contract with KUBO was signed by ASUC President Pavan Upadhyayula on Oct. 10 and will be voted on by the senate’s finance committee Monday.
“We still want to (keep) it focused on students, faculties and alums, but sometimes there’s empty weekends and days when the lodge isn’t doing anything, but we’re still paying for utility bills,” said Ivan Chen, ASUC director of capital projects. “Now, with the external manager, they have a lot of customers that would be interested.”
Historical annual losses have prompted the ASUC to consider closing down or selling the lodge. The lodge has lost about $170,000 in the last six years from damages and a lack of consistent bookings In April, the ASUC hired two Haas School of Business master’s degree candidates, Jan Brown and Anouk Roos, as consultants to evaluate the financial viability of the lodge.
Looking at this data last spring, the consultants suggested streamlining the operations of the lodge and improving outreach and accessibility to students. One of the main recommendations from the consultants was to re-examine and stabilize the management of the lodge.
“The management change is more to create a system in which institutional knowledge can be effectively transferred over because of the yearly turnover of ASUC leadership,” said ASUC Executive Vice President Justin Kong in an email.
Former lodge manager Dan Borge could not be reached for comment.
According to Chen, the lodge’s specialty is its large size, as it can accommodate up to 50 people at a time. The management company believes many outside groups will be interested in staying at the lodge for this reason and hopes to focus on filling in the gaps of vacancy during weekdays and the summer season, when students are less likely to use the lodge.
KUBO is an entity of Miramar Hospitality, a hotel management consulting firm.
“Miramar hospitality plans to reposition the Cal Lodge to the community, Bay Area and Los Angeles as a comfortable, economical location for students and families to stay out,” said Henry Flynn, owner of Miramar Hospitality, in an email.
The Cal Lodge Committee also finalized its recommendation of an architect. Comprising the ASUC president, executive vice president, finance officer, lodge director and appointed students, the committee selected JK Architect for the company’s experience in the Lake Tahoe market.
The architects will begin to assess the lodge and create a master plan for development. For the long term, they hope to re-envision the place and potentially add a building or tear down a wall.
The company will also focus on making the lodge more energy efficient and compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act access guidelines. This will all be included with cost estimates in a presentation to the senate in late January.
After undergoing minor cosmetic fixes, the lodge will tentatively reinstate operation next week and will be open for reservations for December.
“The Cal Lodge will be operational soon for students to use under a significantly better and more professional management structure and will, at the end of the day, still be student run,” Kong said in an email.