The Story of Woodloch: Part IV
When our tale last concluded, Woodloch had just hosted its largest house count ever as more than 1300 guests helped them ring in the year 2000 with a truly unforgettable bash in our Nightclub. When dawn broke, the sun not only rose on a new millennium but also on a new era in the history of Woodloch…
Time seemed to fly by quicker than anyone was able to keep pace with. In the blink of an eye, more than 40 years had eclipsed since Harry and Mary had taken a chance with a 12 room boarding house. Through acquisitions and growth, the tiny campus had blossomed to over 1,200 acres. A small staff of just a few friendly faces was now an army of over 1,000 employees. And what began as Long Island’s best kept secret was no longer one- more than 40,000 guests were visiting the campus on an annual basis.
Needless to say, there was a lot of ground- physical and metaphorical- for the Kiesendahl family to cover. But thankfully, they were ready for it. Just as John and Steve had been “classically” trained by their father before them, so were John’s kids. Ever since they were old enough to pitch in here and there, Brooke, Bobby, Matt, Bradley and Patrick were involved in learning and helping in the family business. As they grew older and more educated, each of them followed their passions to help cement new roles at Woodloch.
- Brooke, a true social butterfly who had tremendous success in pharmaceutical sales, seamlessly transitioned into the role of head of Guest Relations.
- Matt – who was always quite the athlete – found life as manager of Woodloch Springs and Woodloch’s Boat House restaurant one that he could hang a hat on.
- After 8 years managing a 4 Seasons Hotel, Brad Kiesendahl returned back home to be Director of Operations.
- Patrick, a true “people’s person”- wrapped up his education at St. Joseph’s University and now oversees Activities, Bar, and Safety Services.
- Bobby, John’s oldest son, pursued his interests in food and beverage and became Food Service Director. Additionally, after battling leukemia, he established
the “Hope Cures” foundation, which has raised over $1 million in the fight against cancer. The organization hosts a 5k, golf tournament, and tricky tray which grow by leaps and bounds every year.
- John’s wife Patti oversees both retail and decoration at the resort and is instrumental in giving Woodloch that “homey” feeling.
- John’s nephew Robbie has been a staple personality in the Social department for 20 years.
Combining John and Steve’s passion and commitment for excellence with the third generation’s talent has made a Woodloch a true family effort to bring signature warm hospitality to all guests. In addition to family and property, the Woodloch “vacation experience” also continued to expand! New amenities, including and indoor gymnasium and “forest” playground, man-made snow tubing hills, zip lines, year-round skating rink, escape rooms and indoor and outdoor splash pools made for even better family escapes year round. The creative activities staff hosted events like “Survivor,” “Winter Olympics” and “Cake Wars” that redefined what folks would consider a “vacation.” With so many guests returning year after year, the experience had to be kept fresh.
Woodloch soon also discovered that the term “family” was changing at our resort. In addition to blood relatives gathering for good times, new “families” visiting our complex included lifelong friends, neighbors, and even co-workers. Woodloch became a one-of-a-kind destination for corporate meetings, as large companies
began sending their employees away for “team building” events like boat building, “Amazing Race” and marketing challenges. Even just a little R&R was in order after meetings concluded.
Speaking of guests- Woodloch needed more and more room to accommodate everyone! Not only were more guests returning year after year, but they were arriving in bigger groups! What once began as mom and dad with their kids had expanded to include boyfriends, girlfriends, fiances and eventually grandchildren. In addition to all 65 vacation rentals at Woodloch Springs, Woodloch also built spacious 6 bedroom houses known as our Southwoods homes. They became the perfect lodging for family reunions, corporate retreats and even wedding parties.
Perhaps the most ambitious of all of these expansion projects was Woodloch’s involvement in the creation and management of a new spa property. In 2003, the
opportunity to develop a large plot of land across the street from the golf course at Woodloch Springs presented itself. Naturally, they jumped at the chance.
Along with a team of independent investors, the land was tactfully sculpted into what would become The Lodge at Woodloch, a Destination Spa.
Our family resort was not without laurels of our own. The state of Pennsylvania recognized Woodloch as “The #1 Place to Work in the State.” After being featured in magazines including Family Circle, Parents Magazine and Better Homes and Gardens, Woodloch received the ultimate honor of being named “The #1 Hotel for Families in America” by TripAdvisor in 2015. Woodloch was honored to be a top 3 “Family Traveler’s Choice” destination for five consecutive years.
In 2018, Woodloch was humbled to celebrate their 60th “Diamond” Anniversary. Though the celebration is just about ready to conclude as we enter 2019, we realize that life moves in only one direction: forward. A year of nostalgic reflection will soon give way to starry-eyed ambition, as we continue to redefine what a family vacation ought to be.
It’s hard to believe that 7 decades have passed since Harry and Mary boldly ventured into resort ownership. While they are both sadly missed, their presence is still very much alive at our resort. You can see the heart of Aunt Mary every time a staff member goes out of their way to see a guest smile. We remember Uncle Harry every time an employee switches out of an activities shirt and into a cocktail uniform. The echoes of their love for each other and the resort are heard through the winter’s cold and the summer sun.