April 2, 2010
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Event planners are busy getting hospitality houses ready ahead of next week's Masters, and local business owners are also cashing in.
"The Masters is the Masters. Everyone wants to go to the Masters, so it's very popular with our clients," said Ryan Cheuvront with VIP Sports Marketing Inc.
The group owns the Lodge on Heath, a property off of Berckmans Road and directly across from the Augusta National course.
Business clients pay for inclusive packages that can include transportation and tickets to practice rounds.The lodge becomes a refuge when people want a break from the course.
"We have a couple big bars in this place. Over here, the sushi bar is actually along with the bar. There's a big bar out back and upstairs," Cheuront said during a tour of the house.
The two-story building features outdoor dining and grills, televisions on both floors and a virtual golf video game.
"This is our third year in this property here, so we've got the feel of it pretty good and we've got a lot of local help down here," he said.
That local helps includes people like Robert Williams, a chef and owner of Roux's Catering. The business is responsible for serving hundreds of guests at the lodge each day.
"They love the buttermilk biscuits, the grits and the sausage and the Palmetto cheese. You know those things are classic, southern-style foods and I think as best as you can play off that, it's always very well received," he said.
He'll be relying on 60 employees to work at the lodge and back at his facility on Jones Street. Masters week accounts for up to 20 percent of his annual business.
"It's a huge part of our local economy. I hope that people really appreciate what it does bring to our area because, for a week, It's our busiest week of the year."
The menu for next week has been in the works for nine months. Even after next week, the work won't be finished.
"It's the thing that as soon as it's over, you're already somewhat preparing for the following year," Williams said.
"We're ready to go and excited for the week to start," Cheuvront said.