The Crier sat down with Shane Stewart to talk about his latest project,
Tahquitz Pines. Stewart served as general contractor during the
property’s extensive and thorough renovation and is now Managing Partner
of Idyllwild’s newest resort and event venue.

First opened in the 1930s, Tahquitz Pines was, until now, always a
church camp. The public got their first look (and taste) of what was
happening there during Memorial Day weekend, when the resort’s signature
restaurant, The Peak, opened its doors for service. The restaurant is
the most public amenity, and Stewart plans to keep it open year-round,
but the resort offers varied options for lodging, venues for meetings
and events large and small, and recreation (Idyllwild has a pool!) open
to the public with day passes.

Stewart shared this back story: “The development was started in 1930 and
the majority of the buildings were built between 1930 and 1934. In the
90’s Pastor Wally [Boer], currently one of the pastors down at Calvary
Chapel in Mountain Center, became the manager of the facility, and he
decided there was a need to build more. He built the bottom half of the
camp. There are two 11-unit buildings, and we have another restaurant
and amphitheater at the bottom.”

The enterprise is another partnership between Stewart and David
Butterfield. “When we acquired the facility in June of ’22, there was a
lot of deferred maintenance from Cal Baptist, they were hurting because
the pandemic had shut them down for quite a lengthy period. There was no
activity other than a skeleton staff. It needed a major facelift. That’s
what we did. We started the project in June of ’22 and completed it in
late October ’23.”

We asked Stewart to throw a few numbers at us. How big a place is
Tahquitz Pines? “There are 89 buildings on the property, comprising
almost 90,000 square feet. There are 76 cabins, and we have four houses.
We have two restaurants, The Peak, which is a restaurant and full bar,
and The Outpost which is a restaurant as well. We have two amphitheaters
on the property, the swimming pool, pickle ball, volleyball, basketball
courts, horseshoes. We have our event lawn area, which is an
about-15,000 square foot area used for multi-purpose, conferences,
weddings. We have a chapel, a very intimate area, for weddings of up to
60 people. A lot of people have been married throughout the decades over
there and we still have people coming, to this day, that ask 'We got
married in the chapel, would you mind if we go up and walk through it
again?’ We have a full gym, a recreation room, our office, and gift
store. We have a full in-house maintenance department and maintenance
facilities. It’s a very big facility… 23 acres… manicured and pristine.”

Shane told us that there are no new buildings on the grounds, but that
everything has been “revitalized,” updated. “There have been a lot of
facelifts. Every building received a new roof, new gutters… Everything
was painted and stained inside and out, all the landscaping has been
done including low-voltage lighting.”

The lodging ranges from motor-lodge row-units to cozy cabins, duplexes
that can open up, pool side cabanas, and Quonset huts…”The Quonset huts
were used by traveling missionaries… and they would stay there, they
would get free room and board in exchange for labor to help continuing
to build the property, throughout the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s.”

Stewart also shared with us a fact of interest to those who follow the
ups and downs of our local water districts: the resort has its own wells
and does not rely on either of the local water districts, although they
can be used as back up.

Big events include weddings. “We have had weddings there for of 10
people, we have had weddings that are 40 people, we have had a wedding
there of 400 people. It just depends on the need. We have a company,
Celebration of Joy (COJ) that handles all of our weddings and events at
the property, they’re a third-party contractor that arranges everything,
that’s what they do, their specialty. We utilize a lot of the local
businesses, florists, massage personnel, other people in town first
before we seek bringing people up from the desert or San Diego…”

“I want to add that Tahquitz Pines also is available for conferences and
conventions, we have several larger companies coming in that are doing
buyouts later this year. For example, Mitsubishi, their annual meeting
for their employees and their vendors. Every unit has a Mitsubishi
mini-split heat and air, that’s part of the reason they’re so excited,
to be able to show that there’s so many different applications for their
product, installed throughout Tahquitz Pines…”

For locals who dine out, The Peak, Stewart hopes, will be adopted as
Idyllwild’s clubhouse, and the facility frequented like a country club.
He’s proud of his chef, their farm-to-table arrangement for meat, and
the varied menu they look forward to serving. “The Peak will have stuff
that is not what you can get at the local restaurants, it’s going to be
a different variety. The menu will not be a stagnant, year-round menu,
it will constantly be changing and evolving with new fresh items.”

Tahquitz Pines Retreat, 55252 South Circle Dr. The Peak is open daily 11
a.m. to 9 p.m. Day passes for recreation facility can be purchased at
the office.