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‘There are so many reasons to come to Avalon’

Leaves are piling up, temperatures are dropping and Christmas songs soon will be playing on the radio, whether you like it or not. Before you know it, we will be saying hello to a new year.

Time to start thinking about – and planning – our vacations for next year.

Whether you are the guy who organizes the golf getaway weekend for you and your buddies, or the person who sets up a company retreat or conference for your employees, or the spouse who wants to surprise your significant other with a two- or three-night couple’s escape to a nearby, affordable resort, the place to look could be Avalon Inn & Resort Golf and Country Club in Warren, Ohio.

Avalon, in Northeast Ohio, is 180 miles from Buffalo.

"There are so many reasons to come to Avalon," said Kelly Goga, director of sales and marketing for the resort. "The Avalon experience is all encompassing – golf, tennis, swimming, fitness centers, salon and spa, and more. It’s a place to make memories."

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Owner Ron Klingle is intent on making Avalon a memorable place for its club members and guests. He has spent millions of dollars on the resort and said he is always thinking of how he can improve his properties.

The Avalon family has three properties – Avalon Inn & Resort Golf and Country Club, Avalon at Squaw Creek, which is about three miles away from the Inn, and Avalon at Buhl Park, about a 20-minute ride from the Inn. All of the properties are accessible by a free shuttle bus that will transport guests to their desired location.

Klingle, also the owner of American Waste Services, purchased Avalon Lakes Golf Club nearly 30 years ago. He had the golf course refurbished by legendary golf course architect Pete Dye in 1999.

About three years ago, Klingle bought the Avalon Inn & Resort, which features 132 rooms. The design-minded Klingle then invested more than $20 million for renovations, including revamping the indoor swimming pool.

"We basically gutted the entire facility – all new plumbing, heating and air conditioning," said Klingle. "Everything you see is basically new."

He’s not done. Another $10 million to $15 million is being invested into the Inn for an outdoor pool and a Roman bath that will be utilized year-round. He also has plans for an outdoor restaurant and poolside bars that will look out to the 18th green at Avalon Lakes.

"We want it to be the best facility money can buy," said Klingle. "We want you to have an experience that will keep you coming back. An affordable, unique experience. Good value for the money."

Klingle said Avalon has more than 4,500 club members – people from around the area and as far away as Pittsburgh and Cleveland – who can use all the facilities for a yearly membership fee that varies in price from $700 to about $1,700. There are no dues or bar and restaurant minimums.

"We wanted to turn Avalon into a classy club that everyone could afford," said Klingle. "Offer great value. A country club for the common man."

It’s also a great resort for guests, who have access to all of these over-the top amenities.

Let’s start with the Inn. A stay here comes with complimentary hot buffet breakfast each morning. The rooms are new, clean and comfortable. There’s a nice bar area next to the lobby and the Gatsby Restaurant is an exceptional fine-dining experience with tasty food and attentive service.

Businesses looking to hold conferences, sales meetings or company retreats will find this resort ideal. There are plenty of meeting rooms and large event space for conferences in the hundreds.

Connected to the Inn is a new recreation center set up for free play, with indoor and outdoor tennis courts, racquetball, bocce and basketball courts, pool tables and much more. It’s available to members and guests.

The golf courses are spectacular. The three championship courses are Avalon Lakes (at the Inn), Squaw Creek and Buhl Park. Avalon Lakes and Squaw Creek hosted nine LPGA events in the 1990s. All three courses feature five sets of tees – Position 5 (toughest) down to Position 1. It’s a great idea. You don’t have that "stigma" that some think comes with playing the "Red or Gold" tees. The scorecards have the total yardage, ratings and slope for each tee position. If you’re up to it, play Position 5 at Avalon Lakes; it’s 7,550 yards. Position 3 (about 6,500 yards) was the choice here. The course was difficult but fair.

Avalon Lakes is Dye at his best. The legendary designer likes to create drama for each shot. He makes certain holes look hard, but has them play easy. However, one hole that looks difficult and is difficult is the Par 3 8th, which plays 244 yards from Position 5, 186 from Position 3. With water all along the left side, the very deep green looks like an island from the tee box and is guarded by four bunkers to the right. It’s pretty much carry the water or you will be wet. You can bail to the right, but getting up and down for par won’t be easy.

Squaw Creek and Buhl Park are also mature, well-designed and meticulously kept championship courses. Squaw Creek has tree-lined fairways that provide golfers a magnificent look from the tee.

Avalon also boasts an impressive state-of-the-art indoor golf center which includes four AboutGolf simulators. The indoor golf center is located at the Avalon Lakes course.

If you’re not golfing, you can take advantage of the indoor or outdoor swimming pools, fitness centers and full-service salon and spa (Buhl Location).

A weekend golf stay-and-play package – three days, two nights with one round of golf at each of the three courses – costs around $380. That package includes complimentary shuttle service to and from the courses; unlimited usage of the practice facilities; complimentary hot breakfast each morning; and access to all club amenities. The same package during the week will cost approximately $315.

One of the expressions the folks at Avalon Inn & Resort Golf and Country Club like to use is: "We have it all."

Credit Klingle for that. Avalon’s owner is invariably contemplating new ideas for his all-season resort playground.

"We are always looking to improve, trying to make your stay more enjoyable," Klingle said. "With the number of amenities we provide, our luxurious Inn, and all that we have to offer here, we want to be one of the top resorts in the country. "I think people will like it here, and want to come back."

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