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Legacy Wellness 2011 : Page 11

TRANSFORMING the Islands Perhaps the South’s most popular man-made lake, Lake Sidney Lanier was born from humble beginnings. Shortly following World War II, Congress sanctioned the construction of Buford Dam in Northeast Georgia as part of the overall plan to develop the nation’s waterways for power production, fl ood control, and water supplies. A groundbreaking ceremony was held on March 1, 1950, and the Dam was completed six long years later. It would take another three years for the new Chattahoochee River-fed reservoir to reach full capacity. Th is reservoir was named aft er Georgia musician and poet, Sidney Lanier. In 1957, Th e US Army Corps of Engineers leased Lake Lanier Islands to the Georgia Department of State Parks, who partnered with the newly created Lake Lanier Islands Development Authority (LLIDA) in 1962 to manage and develop a recreational venue for the citizens of Georgia to enjoy. By 1974, Lake Lanier Islands celebrated its fi rst year of operation with the debut of the Harbor Landing boat docks, as well as the campgrounds, stables, beaches, golf course, and PineIsle Hotel. In 1987, the addition of water slides and an enormous wave pool gave birth to what would later become the wildly popular Chattahoochee Rapids Beach & WaterPark. Th e following years would see the additions of another lakeside golf course, a second hotel named Emerald Pointe, quaint New-England-inspired LakeHouses, a more fully expanded WaterPark, and the debut of the Magical Nights of Lights – an animated island-wide holiday light extravaganza that continues to draw thousands of guests annually from all over the Southeast. It was during this time that the State of Georgia contracted with KSL Corporation to take over the day-to-day management and operations of Lake Lanier Islands. In 2005, an Atlanta businessman and true visionary– Virgil R. Williams – purchased lease rights to the hotels and businesses on the Islands from KSL Corporation through his venture, Lake Lanier Islands Management Company. With his family at his side, he began making plans to transform the Islands in entirely new ways. “Lake Lanier had always played an integral role in our family life,” recalls Mr. Williams. “I remember waterskiing on the lake as a boy before it even reached full pool, and can’t begin to count the number of boat outings and lakeside picnics my wife, children, grandchildren and I have shared here over the years. Even though it’s been fi ve full years since we assumed the leasehold of Lake Lanier Islands Resort, we are still as excited about all of the possibilities as the fi rst day we set foot on the Islands. So many transformations have taken place in such a short time, and – the best part is – we’re just getting warmed up!” photo courtesy: 11

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