MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Gulf State Park in Gulf Shores was honored Monday night by the Alabama Tourism Department as the 2018 Attraction of the Year.
The three miles of white sand beaches at Gulf State Park act as a siren call to vacationers from around the world, but it is because park staff and volunteers provide so much more through their hospitality, educational opportunities and recreational offerings that the park earned this award.
Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Commissioner Chris Blankenship praised Gulf State’s staff and many volunteers for being the reason for the honor. “Our employees and dedicated volunteers work incredibly hard to make Gulf State Park the best it can be,” he said. “This park is one of the jewels of our entire system and we’re honored to receive the award from the Alabama Tourism Department for 2018 and we expect the next year to be even better with the opening of the new Lodge and Conference Center this November.”
Alabama State Parks Director Greg Lein, in accepting the honor, pointed out other accolades Gulf State Park received in 2018.
“In recent years, Gulf State Park has been recognized by its customers for its excellent service through certificates awarded by TripAdvisor.com,” Lein said. “This year Gulf State Park received three of these awards and was inducted into TripAdvisor’s Hall of Fame for receiving such awards over five consecutive years.
“The Tourism Attraction of the Year Award reflects these recent achievements, as well as the work to re-establish our lodge and create new improvements in the park. These achievements by staff and volunteers, coupled with the investments in new amenities such as trails, education facilities and the rebuilding of our Lodge at Gulf State Park, have made the park an attractive setting for the recruitment of new business partners like Valor Hospitality and Hilton Hotels and Resorts.”
TripAdvisor recognized Gulf State Park in three categories of excellence, based on visitor reviews and rankings on the travel website. The park includes a 1,540-foot-long fishing and education pier, 500 improved campsites, 33 cottages and cabins, a Nature Center, 18-hole golf course, over 3 miles of beautiful beaches, several coastal lakes, more than 28 miles of trails, a dog park and multiple beach access sites.
Recent Gulf State Park improvements include restored and expanded sand dunes, new Interpretive Center and a Learning Campus that will be enjoyed by thousands of visitors each year. The approximately 6,500-acre park is made up of nine ecosystems and features 28 miles of walking and biking trails.
The Lodge at Gulf State Park, set to open in November, is a model of resilient, environmentally friendly coastal development where connectivity to the outdoors is a central focus. Designed to meet LEED Gold and SITES Platinum Certifications, the lodge will have 350 rooms and 40,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor event space. The Lodge at Gulf State Park also features the largest beach view ballroom on the Gulf Coast, accommodating groups of up to 1,000, a Gulf-front pool and Gulf-front restaurant with house-prepared and locally sourced regional specialties.
The naturalists based at the Lodge and Gulf State Park Campground will be available to share information on coastal environments with guests, helping to fulfill the Alabama State Parks System educational goals.
The Alabama Tourism Department lauded Gulf State Park, saying, “The park sets a benchmark of economic and environmental sustainability by demonstrating best practices for outdoor recreation, education and accommodations.”
About Alabama’s State Parks System
The Alabama State Parks is a division of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. The division maintains 22 parks encompassing approximately 48,000 acres of land and water. These parks rely on visitor fees and the support of other partners like local communities to fund the majority of their operations. Download the State Parks app at pocketranger.com. For more information about Alabama State Parks, go online to www.alapark.com. Partners Pay the Way.