LAKE BERRYESSA — A market study on re-establishing Lake Berryessa as a regional recreation draw recommends what should happen at five resorts targeted for renovation.
The reservoir in neighboring Napa County had five of its seven resorts cleared of buildings, marinas and other infrastructure by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. The agency in 2oo9 evicted 1,500 mobile homes and trailers at the resorts along the 165-mile, publicly owned shoreline. It is reshaping the five resorts virtually from scratch.
Now the bureau is taking steps to find concessionaires to rebuild and operate the resorts. The emphasis is to be on campsites, lodges, marinas and other draws that attract short-term visitors, as opposed to having parts of the resorts devoted to long-term visitors who live in trailers.
“Lake Berryessa has gone through a transformation like few lakes have witnessed in such a short time,” said the marketing study prepared by the bureau and called a “draft final” report.
From 2011 through 2013, the lake drew an average of 487,933 visitors annually, the study said. That compares to an estimated average of 1.5 million annual visitors from 1981 to 2002, with all seven resorts operating at full strength. The high point came in 1987, with an estimated 1.8 million visitors.
The marketing study looks at what is financially feasible to build at the five resorts. Among its assumptions is that lost visitation during the resort transformations can be rebuilt within five to 10 years of the resorts being renovated.
Most Lake Berryessa visitors live in the region, with 75 percent coming from the Bay Area and 20 percent from the Sacramento area, the study found.
The bureau has a long menu of offerings that can be built at the resorts, ranging from campsites to boat slips to dry boat storage to cabins to retail stores. Each resort has uses that the future concessionaires will be required to build and uses that they will have the option to build. Different resorts are to emphasize different services, though many of the offerings will overlap.
For example, Putah Canyon Recreation Area could be required to have the largest marina, with 201 boat slips, under the draft market study proposed. It could be required to have 22 tent sites, 18 recreational vehicles sites, four courtesy docks, 15 houseboat slips, dry storage for 30 boats, a restaurant and a retail store, among other things.
Berryessa Point Recreation Area could have a greater emphasis on RV sites, with 41. It could have no tent sites or boat slips required, but could have a boat launch.
Monticello Shores Recreation Area could have the greatest emphasis on camping, with 130 tent sites. Steele Canyon Recreation Area could have the most cabins, with 15, and the most house boat slips, with 32. Some resorts would be required to have a restaurant, others would be authorized to have a restaurant.
The bureau’s timeline calls for awarding contracts to concessionaires for some if not all of the five resorts in 2016, with the reborn resorts to open in 2017. For now, Markley Cove Marina and Pleasure Cove Marina remain at full strength. Among the five resorts slated for renovation, Steele Cove, Spanish Flat and Putah Canyon are offering minimal services, such as camping.
Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.