Event Destinations Waypoint, Avalon Weather Shutdown

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — Business has been like a roller coaster ride at Waypoint 4180. 

The conference and banquet center came out of the starting gate at full speeding October. Five months later, the coronavirus stopped it in its tracks.

“Being brand-new, we were kicking butt with our service and our food. And then all this transpired,” says its director of marketing, Nancy Sullivan.

Waypoint 4180 is in Westford Place in Canfield, part of the campus that also encompasses the Courtyard Marriott Hotel and the Kennsington Golf Club.

The statewide order to close all places where people gather brought Waypoint’s momentum to a halt. All events e scheduled after March 15 were halted, but Sullivan has been working to reschedule them.

It’s an unprecedented situation.

“We’re all trying to learn,” Sullivan says. “My thoughts have been to talk to my clients to keep them at ease. We moved a lot of events to the end of 2020 or into 2021. Only one or two completely canceled.”

Sullivan says she is a “huge believer” in maintaining a relationship with her clients. In April, she helped one couple make the best of the situation.

“They got married at one of their homes and we had a parking lot reception for them,” Sullivan says. “Their guests stayed in their car and beeped their horns and the couple came driving up in a golf cart and had their first dance. So it was a sad start but it turned into the best day of their lives.”

The couple, she says, still plan to have their reception at Waypoint 4180 when it’s allowed.

All events scheduled through May at the center have been postponed, and some in June as well.

When the governor gives the green light, Sullivan expects there will be a rush for dates. “It’s going to be crazy,” she says. “Everyone has been very accommodating because they want to have [their events] here.”

Weddings, for example, will take place on days other than Saturday.

“I’ll have weddings on a Sunday,” Sullivan says. 

The big day for couples often takes place entirely on the Westford property, she said. “They’ll get married outside, by the gazebo, then the bride and groom and maids can go out on a golf cart to take pictures. And then come back to dinner.”

Until then, Waypoint’s staff of some 50 waiters, bartenders and kitchen workers has been laid off. 

Kennsington Golf Club and the hotel have been able to remain open but all three properties are separate entities in the CTW Development family, Sullivan explains.

“We all do our own thing but we work together to create that synergy,” Sullivan says. “If I have a huge wedding on a Saturday, I will let Kennsington Grill know because they will get hit at the bar later, especially if they have booked hotel rooms. It’s a one-stop shop, and what happens at one affects all, like a domino effect.”

Corporate events are a growing aspect of business at Waypoint that also came to a halt because of the coronavirus roadblock.

“We were getting our golf simulator ready to come online. And we have five smaller rooms almost ready, with projectors in the ceiling and all the [audio-visual gear] you can think of, all the bells and whistles,” Sullivan says. “We were just getting our name out there in the corporate world when this happened.”

At Avalon Lakes Golf and Country Club, the story is similar.

The hotel and golf course are open, and the course’s grill is offering takeout food. But the spa, salon, pools, Roman bath, tennis courts, bars and restaurants are closed.

Weddings, conferences and other rental events have been pushed back to September at the earliest. “Some are going to next year,” says spokesman Mike Case. “Everybody has their fingers crossed.”

Case also expects a flurry of rescheduled events in the near future. “We could be having Thursday weddings and class reunions,” he says.

Avalon’s business has been significantly decreased by the shutdown, he says. All waiters, waitresses and bartenders have been laid off.

When restaurants are permitted to reopen, Avalon will be prepared. “We’re ready to go as soon as they give us the OK,” Case says.

Avalon has 5,000 members, Case says, 1,500 of whom have access to its outstanding Pete Dye-designed golf course. The remaining 3,500 are social members

But recognition of the resort extends far beyond the Mahoning Valley. It attracts many “stay and play” overnight guests, many of whom come from Canada for the golf and other amenities.

“The hotel would ordinarily be packed at this time,” Case says.

Pictured: Waypoint 4180 in Westford Place, Canfield.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.