Healthy choice


Lithia Springs Inn is repositioned to reflect Ashland’s wellness roots.

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By Dan Cook

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The renovation of the Lithia Springs Inn is due for completion in May. Now called the Lithia Springs Resort, it is being repositioned by the Neumans as a healthful destination resort.

Unless you’re seated comfortably, don’t get Becky Neuman started on farm-to-table food or the health benefits of mineral springs water. Passion for the subjects simply overtakes her.

Becky Neuman and husband Doug Neuman acquired a controlling interest in the Lithia Springs Inn at the far north end of Ashland last year. As 75% owners of the hotel’s partnership, the Neumans were in a position to call for revamping the property, both from a structural and branding standpoint.

They dove in, renovating all 29 rooms and the central building that serves as the reception and dining area and includes several guest rooms and offices. Their first phase was due for completion May 12 — a rapid turnaround by hotel restoration standards, but a pace that suits the energetic Neumans.

Phase one represents an investment of about $700,000 to $800,000, Doug Neuman says, with all guest rooms getting a makeover. The more aggressive phase two, due for completion this fall, envisions construction of a new outdoor spring-fed swimming pool, the addition of more guest rooms and other improvements that will put the investments into the millions.

“This is equal parts physical renovation and rebranding,” Doug Neuman says of the turnaround strategy. “We wanted to get moving on the physical piece because we know we have to build our business and create our brand and it will take some time.”

 


 

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Becky and Doug Neuman acquired a controlling interest in the Lithia Springs Inn last year and began revamping it.

The couple already has several hotel property turnarounds to their credit. They purchased the Lake of the Woods lodge and cabins between Ashland and Klamath Falls in the fall of 1998 and undertook an aggressive overhaul of the shopworn property. By the summer of 1999, Lake of the Woods reopened. Improvements continued but that initial flurry of activity set the stage for the resort’s comeback. (The Neumans sold it in 2008.)

Their restoration of the Ashland Springs Hotel in downtown Ashland was equally challenging. Shuttered when they bought it in 1998, the Neumans reopened it in 2000 and have turned it into a popular place to dine and spend the night. Its upscale restaurant, The Lark, serves Oregon farm-to-table food and beverages almost exclusively. The management team that renovated that hotel and remained to operate it is now being engaged in the Lithia Springs Resort turnaround.

“We have an established team in place with 12 years at the [Ashland Springs] hotel and we’ve learned a lot of things about how to deal with seasonal market properties,” Doug Neuman says. “It’s been an inn. We want to turn it into a resort, with a beautiful pool area, Jacuzzi and spa. We’ll have complete food service, continue to add more cottages, have bikes available for guests, events that celebrate everything we have here in the valley.”

Becky Neuman’s vision for the property, now renamed the Lithia Springs Resort, is nothing short of turning it into a healthful destination resort that pays homage to all things Oregon. She sees guests coming for the mineral spring waters, organic food, resort gardens and mountain views, and the clean Ashland air.

“Our properties celebrate the natural beauty of Oregon, its organic foods and the health and wellness we cherish here,” she says.

 


 

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The resort has 29 rooms and a central building, which have been renovated. “This is equal parts physical renovation and rebranding,” says Doug Neuman.

The Lithia Springs Resort lies on an alluvial plain between Bear Creek and a steep mountainside, from which flow at least seven mineral springs. The property features tidy cottages clustered around gardens and springs. Each room has an in-room hot mineral spring water tub, and the tap water is filtered but originally from the springs. A tasteful landscape design of water features, herbs and native plants is a hallmark of Lithia Springs. It abuts a huge organic garden under cultivation by tenants and employees of Jackson Wellsprings, another mineral springs-anchored resort that surrounds Lithia Springs on three sides.

The Neumans saw the potential to brand the resort around the land’s natural beauty and the proclaimed health properties of the waters. They plan to grow organic food to eventually serve in a restaurant on the site. Upscale is clearly the objective; room rates range from $199 a night to $349 for the pricier cottages and $418 for a family cabin.

The previous owners, of course, saw the spring water as a draw to a certain customer. But, Becky Neuman says, it was primarily marketed as a more upscale place to stay than, say, a motel or B&B, when in town for some Shakespeare action.

Problem was, that signature mineral springs odor (similar to rotten eggs) often bothered guests.

So our idea is to turn that sulfur smell into a draw for guests seeking a healthy place to stay,” she says. “After all, people originally came to Ashland for the waters and the healthy air. The time has come again when people are seeking exactly those things.”




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