Sprucing up

Clifty Inn renovations complete;
new dining hall largest in county

By Michelle Hicks
Contributing Writer

(August 2005) – It’s been a long wait, but the new and improved Clifty Inn will open its doors on Aug. 5.

Clifty Inn Dining Room

Photos by Debra Maylum

Clifty Inn general manager Karen Hinton
(below) says there has been a huge demand
for a larger dining facility (above)
at the state park.

After a year-long renovation, the Inn will feature 37 new guest rooms and three new guest suites, an expanded ballroom and renovated kitchen, an all-weather bridge connecting the main building and the new facilities, a remodeled dining room and several meeting rooms. The guest rooms and ballroom offer breathtaking river views, and the outdoor area includes a wedding terrace and fire pit.
The previously existing main lodge was remodeled four years ago, giving the facility 71 rooms and an indoor pool.
Approximately 100,000 people visit Clifty Falls State Park each year, and the Inn experiences a 68 percent occupancy level year round, according to General Manager Karen Hinton. She said the Inn has no vacancy during many weekends in the late summer and early fall. The opening of the new facilities is long awaited, since the Inn has had only 31 guest rooms available to park visitors since the renovation began in August 2004.
The renovated kitchen and expanded ballroom, which provide the opportunity for the Inn to host large gatherings and conferences, are much needed facilities in this area, she said. Hinton added that the Overlook Ballroom has already been booked for many large events, including a late summer wedding with nearly 400 guests expected.
The Madison Area Chamber of Commerce plans to hold its annual dinner at the ballroom in January 2006. The chamber event attracts more than 300 people each year and had outgrown Hanover College’s banquet room. The chamber had to close reservations at 300 last year, officials there said.

Karen Hinton

Photo by Debra Maylum

Clifty Inn general manager Karen
Hinton in the new dining room.

Hinton said several Indianapolis-based companies are scheduling retreats at the Inn. Area high schools have also shown an interest in hosting junior and senior proms in the ballroom, she said. In addition to the expanded ballroom, the facilities offer a dining room that seats 160 and several large meeting rooms that seat approximately 125.
The original building was constructed in 1974, but it was already structurally unfit. Gary Miller, with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, said the old River View building had substantial water and siding problems to the extent that it was more economical to replace the building than to continue with repairs. Miller added that the new facility is more convenient to visitors and staff because both buildings are connected by the corridor bridge which enables visitors to pass between the buildings without going outdoors. Previously, the facility consisted of four buildings with no common connection.
The new facilities are well built and provide accommodations that are “more in keeping with the market” and that can “compete more effectively” with similar facilities, said Ken Boyce, an architect with Ratio Architects of Indianapolis. Ratio was hired to perform all design aspects of the project. According to Boyce, a main goal of the renovation was to “provide the kind of experience visitors might expect” when visiting the park.
Guest rooms in the new facility rent for $99 per night, and guest suites are $139 per night. In addition to the beautiful hillside and river views, the rooms feature state-of-the-art accommodations, rustic furniture and beautiful bedding. The guest suites are equipped with both a shower and hot tub. First floor guest rooms include an outdoor patio and third floor guest rooms provide a small balcony. Guest rooms on the second floor include an enclosed seating area with sliding doors for enjoying the views.
State officials hired Dunlaps, a general contractor from Columbus, Ind., to complete the renovation.

• For additional information regarding guest accommodations and banquet and meeting facilities, call (812) 265-4135.

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