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Bidders apply to operate new Lake Berryessa resorts

Bidders apply to operate new Lake Berryessa resorts

Lake Berryessa

Napa County has received bids to renovate Lake Berryessa resorts. One goal is to boost Lake Berryessa visitation back to prior levels, as seen in this 2007 photo.

Bidders want to renovate and run one or more of the Lake Berryessa resorts, though who they are and what they are proposing — hotels? glamping? spas? — has yet to be made public.

Napa County required potential resort concessionaires to submit bids by noon on March 2. County officials after the deadline didn’t give names of the bidders or tell the number.

“We can confirm we have proposals,” county spokesperson Janet Upton said.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation turned to Napa County to help breathe new life into five of the seven resorts on the lake’s federal shoreline.

The county is initially focusing on Spanish Flat, Monticello Shores and Steele Canyon.

A decade ago, each site was swept clean of former resorts so newcomers can start from scratch. Marinas are a natural. Beyond that, county advertising material has mentioned possibilities ranging from restaurants to lodges to an event center to a golf course to a seaplane base.

“A world-class destination” and “three unique resort sites development opportunities,” said bid material from Ragatz Realty, a consultant to the county in the Lake Berryessa marketing effort.

“Lake Berryessa is one of the largest and most attractive freshwater lakes in California,” the bid material said. “It has 165 miles of shoreline. By comparison, Lake Tahoe has only 72 miles of shoreline (although more surface area).”

Napa County Board of Supervisors Chairperson Alfredo Pedroza on Tuesday expressed satisfaction with this initial step of the county’s resort redevelopment effort.

“The most important part is the market responded, and there is interest,” Pedroza said.

The next step is for county officials to review the proposals to make certain they meet the requirements. Then an evaluation team will score each responsive proposal, looking at such factors as the proposed concept, experience and financial strength and community engagement plan.

Submitters of the proposals earning the three highest scores for each of the three resorts might be invited to give the county a presentation. The county will negotiate with only one bidder for each of the resorts.

Napa County will make public the number of bids received and the bidders’ identities once contract negotiations are completed and staff is prepared to make a recommendation to the Board of Supervisors, Upton said. May is the target to approve contracts.

Pedroza said the county before moving ahead will make the public aware of the potential resort improvements. County officials want to make sure the Lake Berryessa community shares the excitement over what is being proposed.

He expects the resort renovation effort to succeed and infrastructure could start being put in this year, Pedroza said.

“It really goes back to the years we spent working with the Bureau to reach a term and structure that allows reasonable investment to happen,” Pedroza said.

New to the county resort renovations effort is Leigh Sears. Sears is the county’s Lake Berryessa concessions manager. She previously managed concessions on the south shore of Lake Tahoe for more than 15 years.

The Bureau of Reclamation tried for over a decade to redevelop five of the seven Lake Berryessa resorts but didn’t find satisfactory concessionaires. The agency has estimated visitation at the reservoir fell from over a million a year to about 400,000.

Napa County officials have said the county can bring more flexibility to the bid effort that could result in success. Coming months will show whether that will prove to be true.


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Napa County Reporter

Barry Eberling covers Napa County government, transportation, the environment and general assignments. He has worked for the Napa Valley Register since fall 2014 and previously worked 27 years for the Daily Republic of Fairfield.

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