Gondola Rides May Be Coming to Lake Anne Next Month

by Karen Goff June 16, 2016 at 4:30 pm 11 Comments

Las Olas Gondola/Courtesy Las Olas Gondola

The people who brought paddleboarding to Reston are hoping to bring a gondola pilot project here next month.

Steve Gurney, owner of Surf Reston Stand Up Paddleboarding, has asked Reston Association for permission to offer gondola rides on Lake Anne in late July.

Gurney plans to bring a gondola (and gondolier) to Reston to see if it would be a good longterm investment here.

“A gondola at Lake Anne has the potential to be a very unique regional attraction comparable to a Reston Town Center Carriage Ride,” Gurney said in his request to RA, which must approve the idea since Lake Anne is RA property.

“There are less than 25 other gondola operations in the nation, and many report that they are consistently voted the ‘most romantic evening’ and the ‘best place to propose’ in their regions.”

The cost of the Reston rides has not yet been determined, said Gurney. Most vendors around the country charge $100-$125 for an hour-long ride for four, he said.

Gurney said he sees collaboration with the restaurants at Lake Anne (and the immediate region) to create dinner/gondola packages will provide a unique offering to drive traffic and commerce to Lake Anne.

By testing out the gondola service over a few days, Gurney could gauge whether a full-time gondola would fare well in Reston.

“This short-term demonstration project can provide the community with a better indicator of the demand and the community’s desire to support this service through a summer season,” he said.

Reston Association guidelines currently prohibit boats over 18 feet long from docking at Lake Anne. The gondola Gurney wants to bring in is 36 feet long. so the Reston Association Board would also have to OK a boat of that size.

Gurney says he found a company in New Jersey with an authentic Venetian-built gondola who will rent it for a short term time frame. He is in New Jersey.

“This gondola has a very interesting past — it was actually a prize on ‘The Price is Right,” says Gurney. “The contestant didn’t want it so Bob Barker bought it from her and put in his backyard. It eventually made its way to Florida and then New Jersey.”

If Reston would get a full-time gondola concession, gondoliers would undergo training as well. Gurney says it would be a ideal job for college theatre arts students because it offers them an opportunity to sing to the customers.

The pilot program will not cost Reston Association money. The RA Board is expected to vote on the request at its June 23 meeting.

Photo courtesy Las Olas Gondolas

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