Callaway Resort & Gardens President & CEO resigns

The president and CEO of Callaway Resort & Gardens is resigning to take another job.

William “Bill” Doyle III said he is leaving the Pine Mountain nature preserve and resort, according to a statement provided to the Ledger-Enquirer Tuesday by Callaway representatives.

Pam Bauer, Callaway’s director of brand development and marketing, said Doyle’s final full-time day is July 8. He’ll remain on in a part-time role through the summer.

“It is with a heavy heart I announce my departure from Callaway Resort & Gardens,” Doyle’s statement reads. “ I, along with the Board of Trustees, are very proud of the accomplishments we have made over the past four years — reaching significant goals in stabilizing the resort for continued growth.”

Founded in 1952, Callaway Gardens is a resort with a man-made beach on a lake and many attractions, according to Ledger-Enquirer archives. At its peak, prior to the recession’s start in 2007, the gardens drew about 1 million visitors a year.

Doyle will remain a trustee of the Ida Cason Callaway Foundation, the resort’s nonprofit parent organization, and he will be assisting in the search for a new CEO.

Doyle is leaving Callaway to take a job at one of his previous employers, Atlanta-based Herschend Family Entertainment, Bauer said.

The company owns Silver Dollar City in Branson, Missouri; Wild Adventures in Valdosta, Georgia; and co-owns Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Doyle previously served as president of the company’s resort division.

Doyle worked for Herschend Family Entertainment from September 2008 to December 2011, according to his LinkedIn page.

“(Herschend) is looking to expand their future, they wanted him to come back,” Bauer said.

It’s unclear what position within the company Doyle will occupy. A Herschend representative did not respond to a Ledger-Enquirer reporter before publication.

Doyle came to Callaway in June 2015 after several years of declining attendance and rising debt. Callaway saw several major changes under his leadership, including:

In April 2016, Callaway purchased The Lodge and Spa with a then-estimated $2.5 million to be spent on renovations. An additional renovation of the Lodge’s onsite 30,000 square foot conference center will begin Q4 this year. It is expected to be completed in early 2020.

Three original motel buildings in Mountain Creek Inn were demolished in 2017.

The Lodge at Blue Springs, built in the 1930s by Cason Callaway and his brother, Fuller Jr., sold in March 2019 for $1.28 million, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. The Ida Cason Callaway Foundation was the seller, and the home was about eight miles from the resort.

A job description for the soon-to-be-vacant position is on Callaway’s website, Bauer said.

Ledger-Enquirer archives were used in this story.