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Woodloch Pines: Innovating and Overcoming the Pandemic With a Bright Future Outloook

Summer 2021 Catalyst

The COVID-19 crisis hit the hospitality industry particularly hard, and Woodloch Pines, an all-inclusive family resort located in Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains, was no exception. The property closed its doors back on March 17, 2020 and reopened almost three months later on June 5. Having been in business for over 63 years, Woodloch has emerged triumphant from its fair share of challenges, always working to turn negatives into positives.

 

When Woodloch Pines founders Harry and Mary Kiesendahl first purchased the property back in April 1958, the couple was looking for an escape from the hustle-bustle of New York and a way to reconnect as a family. As Woodloch Pines was born, its core mission became “to treat each and every guest as if they are company in our own homes.” This commitment has brought the family-owned and operated resort success ever since.

 

Overall, Woodloch inhabits more than 1,800 acres of property, employs over 1,000 people and welcomes more than 100,000 guests through its doors annually. Boasting lakeside activities, an award-winning golf course and a world-class spa, the resort has something for everyone. After a banner year in 2019 that included being named “The Best Family Resort” by USA Today, they were primed for continued success in 2020. However, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic completely changed the year’s trajectory, and Woodloch struggled with its crippling effects just as so many other businesses did. 

 

Throughout the ebbs and flows of the pandemic that marked 2020 and early 2021, the entire staff worked tirelessly to maintain the Woodloch spirit for guests, staff and the community in an effort to spread light in a time of darkness. During quarantine, the resort launched “Woodloch at Home,” a treasure trove of activities and games that can be accessed remotely through both the resort’s website and social media channels. And during times when occupancy requirements relaxed, they abided by social distancing and temperature check guidelines, followed proper sanitization mandates and found creative ways to provide entertainment to guests without compromising protocols.  

 

When the COVID-19 vaccine became available, Woodloch was able to host several on-site vaccination clinics allowing staff and the local community to become more easily inoculated in the rural area where the resort is located. As the number of vaccinated people steadily grew, on June 28th, Pennsylvania lifted restrictions as well as its statewide mask mandate. As of mid-June, the resort was fully booked for summer, and the Woodloch team could not be more grateful.

 

“We celebrate the one-year anniversary of reopening, with a newfound appreciation for family and the time we are able to spend together,” said Woodloch Pines President and CEO Brad Kiesendahl. “Though it was a truly challenging year emotionally, physically and financially, we count our blessings in the different kind of success we were able to obtain this year. We are incredibly proud of our team and know that we will face whatever challenges lie ahead with complete confidence.”

 

Woodloch is comprised of an all-inclusive family resort, a world-renowned all-inclusive luxury destination spa, The Lodge at Woodloch; a nationally-recognized, championship golf course at Woodloch Springs; a 550-home residential community; real estate division; general contracting company; The Boathouse Restaurant on Lake Wallenpaupack; and The Market at Woodloch, a nationally-recognized convenience market and gas station.

 

Below are additional ways in which Woodloch supported its staff and community during the pandemic crisis:

 

  • After closing last March, The Woodloch Family gave each of its 950 hourly team members an additional week’s worth of wages to compensate them during the first week of shutdown from March 16 through March 22.
  • During the spring of 2020, the Woodloch Family hosted two separate food drives where they distributed more than 800 care packages to staff members. This included an assortment of items including pasta, meat, milk, eggs, juice, canned goods, toilet paper and baked goods from the resort’s in-house bakery; as well as salad greens and herb bundles from the organic farm at Woodloch’s destination spa. An additional 300 packages were donated to local Pike and Wayne County food shelters.
  • Woodloch donated all of its available N-95 respirator masks to the local community hospital, Wayne Memorial. Additionally, Woodloch's bakery distributed care packages to hospital staff, local urgent care and local EMS.

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