Motoring Along: Lake Raystown enters 30th year with new affiliation
ENTRIKEN – Josh Patt and Samantha Patt Kozak are excited as Lake Raystown Resort opens for the season Friday as an RVC Outdoor Destination. The recently announced designation by RVC Outdoor Destinations, which develops, owns and operates a portfolio of outdoor hospitality properties located within some of the country’s most beautiful natural settings and offers upscale services and amenities, coincides with the resort’s 30th anniversary. The designation is expected to be beneficial to the resort owned and operated by the brother and sister duo, who bought out their father, resort founder P. Jules Patt, in 2013. The 400-acre property, just off Route 994, includes a 52-room lodge, 79 cabins and villas, 221 RV sites, a 650 slip marina, the Wild River Water Park and a 22,000-square-foot conference center. Patt and Patt Kozak met RVC founder Andy Cates through an article in an outdoors hospitality industry publication.
“We felt what he was building with RVC was what we had here at Lake Raystown Resort already and had been building over the last 30 years. After touring some of the RVC properties, the RVC management team visited here. We both felt it was a natural fit to become an RVC destination,” Patt said. “We will become part of their national marketing campaign. We see this as a benefit to the Raystown region because of that branding power.”
“Not only did we like Josh and Samantha, their property is an amazing property and one of the best destinations in Pennsylvania and the Northeast. We saw Lake Raystown Resort was an outstanding destination that has everything you need and you don’t have to leave the property for anything during your stay,” said RVC Vice President of Marketing Alex Embry.
In addition to Lake Raystown Resort, Memphis, Tenn.-based RVC operates outdoor destinations and RV resorts in Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee and Texas. Lake Raystown is the second non-RVC owned and first non-RVC managed property nationally receiving the Outdoor Destination brand. RVC sees Lake Raystown Resort as a place for its customers to visit in the Northeast.
“Instead of finding more customers for our resorts, we try to find more resorts for our customers. It is like cross pollination. We may be able to get people who visit our locations in Florida, Arkansas or Tennessee to go to Pennsylvania and people from Pennsylvania to go there,” Embry said.
New signage to reflect the RVC branding is being added, as well as remodeling of 36 rooms at the lodge to give them a more contemporary look.
Lake Raystown Resort became a reality when in 1983 P. Jules Patt won the rights to develop 400 acres on Raystown Lake from the Army Corps of Engineers on a site previously known as “Rothrock.” In 1984, Lake Raystown Resort opened with a resort center, a marina, horse stables for trail rides, Paradise Point, a primitive wilderness campground peninsula and existing Army Corps camping facilities. The horse stables are no longer available, and in 2003 Paradise Point was permanently returned to wilderness. In 1985, the Proud Mary showboat arrived, and the Wild River Waterpark opened with the “Cemetery Sluice” Flume Ride and Caddy’s Revenge Miniature Golf Course. At the time, the flume slide was the tallest water ride in Pennsylvania. Patt Kozak called her father a visionary.
“A lot of the things that have come about was because of his vision; he was a developer, not an operator,” Kozak said. “Waterparks are more common today. To have that with a campground was unheard of at the time. That was forward thinking.”
Other significant developments included an expansion of the marina in 1989, the opening of The Lodge at Lake Raystown Resort in 1990, construction of 25 Lakeside Villas in 2005 and the opening of the Conference Center in 2007.
“As we’ve added accommodations and increased our marine capacity, our attendance has grown with each expansion,” Patt said.
The addition of the conference center enabled the resort to attract different guests – weddings and business meetings became a key part of the business. From April to October the resort typically hosts 40 to 45 weddings.
“When we added the Conference Center, that helped increase the events business, and that has really increased the number of visitors. They stay at the lodge, which is close by. The addition of the Convention Center has helped the lodge,” Patt Kozak said.
Weekends in July and August are the busiest time of the year when the resort becomes like “a little city with thousands of people,” Patt Kozak said. The resort employs 22 full-time people year-round, but during the peak season the number swells to about 220 with the addition of part-time and seasonal workers. Lake Raystown Resort is very important to Huntingdon County’s tourism industry, said Matt Price, executive director of the Huntingdon County Visitors Bureau.
“They are the single largest lodging property in the county. They have a wide variety of lodging options from primitive camping up through beach front bungalow lodging rooms and suites. They also have the only dedicated conference facility in the county,” Price said. “We are excited for the partnership with RVC Outdoor Destinations that will bring a national brand to go along with the excellent product they have always provided.” Patt Kozak calls Lake Raystown Resort a unique environment and a hidden gem.
“We have guests who spend the week camping in a tent and guests who rent a houseboat for a week. There is something for everyone. It is a great place to get back to nature,” Patt Kozak said. “We believe it is a hidden gem. The whole area has been kept rural. It has not become over-developed, and that is what makes it so special.” The owners are excited about the future. “We are excited to be able to add RVC. It coincides with our 30th year, and we are looking forward to another great 30 years. It is also the 40th anniversary of Raystown Lake Dam. There will be events all over the region celebrating 40 years,” Patt said. “Josh and I are excited to carry on our father’s vision; that is important to our family. It all started with his vision,” Patt Kozak said.