RIDGECREST, N.C. (BP)–The sounds of backhoes and bulldozers, for the moment, are mingling with the sounds of nature at Ridgecrest.
“We are almost doubling the size of our three-year-old Mountain Laurel Inn from 120 rooms to 230,” said Byron Hill, director of conference centers for LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention, which owns and operates Ridgecrest and LifeWay Glorieta Conference Center near Santa Fe, N.M. “This will allow us to handle groups of 300-400 people in Mountain Laurel alone. There will be a new multi-use recreation center with a full gym and stage that can seat 800 people.”
The new recreation center, called the “Arc” (Auditorium Recreation Center), will allow an expansion of the LifeWay’s Centrifuge camp ministry at the conference center. Currently, LifeWay can welcome 600 teenagers for Centrifuge, but with the new facilities, 800 teenagers can be accommodated. “This will make Ridgecrest a prime Centrifuge location,” Hill said. “In the summer, the Arc will be for the exclusive use of Centrifuge, but the rest of the year, it will be available for any number of other uses.”
The Arc will be ready in June 2006 -– in time for Centrifuge -– and the rest of the Mountain Laurel expansion will be finished in October 2006. A new convention center will be ready for guests in 2007.
The western North Carolina area is a popular tourist destination with attractions such as the Biltmore House, Chimney Rock, Lake Lure, Black Mountain and Asheville. Bed and breakfasts and hotels are everywhere.
“We want individual church members to think about Ridgecrest as a hotel destination, as well as a conference site,” Hill noted. “We offer church staff members and denominational employees from any denomination a $29 nightly rate, depending on availability, and individual rates start at $39 a night,” Hill said. “You can’t find that kind of rate anywhere else in the area.”
While Mountain Laurel Inn is Ridgecrest’s newest and nicest hotel, renovation is bringing others up to the same standard. Renovations to Walnut and Rhododendron will be completed in 2006 and 2007, respectively, joining Maple, which already has been totally renovated, Hill said.
Ridgecrest reservations can be made by going to www.lifeway.com/ridgecrest or phoning 1-800-588-7222.