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Oceanfront Cinema 

Pacific Reef Hotel debuts outdoor theater

The Pacific Reef Hotel in Gold Beach, Oregon, billboards its new oceanfront outdoor theater as state-of-the-art. Viewers might label it using many other superlatives. It is another first for Oregon: the hotel industry's first oceanfront outdoor theater. The Pacific Reef Adventure Theater is a smart-technology glass screen measuring 33 feet wide and 12 feet high. It is positioned along the hotel's direct access to the sandy beach where there are abundant tide pools. Right now the Adventure Theater is showing a video production featuring the many treasures of the southern coast's hidden region, including one of Oregon's most iconic rivers, the Rogue, where famous western writer Zane Grey spent much time fishing and penning many of his popular books.

Today the Rogue offers world-class rafting, fishing, hiking, and summer jet boat tours. Jet boats stop upriver at the tiny town of Agness where the historic Lucas Lodge serves family-style fried chicken lunches and dinners. Served from May to Oct. 15, the lodge's fried chicken has attracted thousands of hungry adventurers for years. The Agness Post Office is one of just two in the U.S. served only by boat. Other attractions in the area include two state parks: Boardman and Pistol River. The Boardman State Park, located between Gold Beach and Brookings, offers numerous short hikes leading to hidden and private beaches. In addition, there are opportunities for windsurfing, kayaking, biking, horseback riding on the beach, golfing, and other recreational activities.

Gold Beach was first named 'Ellensburg' in the 1850s but later became known as Gold Beach in recognition of hundreds of placer miners who extracted gold from a nearby beach where the Rogue River met the ocean. Today the population of Gold Beach is approximately 2,500 full-time residents.

The Pacific Reef Hotel was established in 2008 on six acres of beach front. Developer and owner Gene Pranger has an extensive background in advertising with one of the nation's top agencies. The Pacific Reef offers superior ocean view accommodations that include a hotel, motel, condos and vacation rentals. In addition to uncrowded beaches, the hotel features the Chowder House restaurant.

Dealing with the seasonal demands of a resort hotel can be challenging, so Pranger brainstormed how a unique attraction might help boost room occupancy rates year-round. Remembering his fondness for outdoor theaters in his youth, the idea for the outdoor Adventure Theater at the Pacific Reef was born. For the past year Pranger and his staff have been testing the theater, which is now open to visitors. He says his goal was to provide tourists with a unique look at the hidden treasures the southern Oregon coast has to offer. His production team captured aerial video footage from two helicopters, searching for sights not seen by those driving at ground level on Highway 101, the coast's main north-south route. The high-tech theater screen provides a translucent see-through view during the day. The screen then fogs over in the evening, allowing his produced seasonal videos to project onto it.

Gene says he strives for seasonal video themes that will inspire Pacific Reef guests. They include summer and holiday activities and a romantic video theme that will be shown in the first quarter of the year. Future plans call for showings that will be broadcast to each room's television, providing convenience and a 'port in the storm' in case of inclement weather. The hotel has also installed a whale cam that captures real-time visuals of the surf and a close-up opportunity for whale and seal sightings. This, too, will eventually be available to hotel guests in their rooms.

Thus far, the response to the trend-setting innovation has been overwhelmingly positive, Pranger says. Trip Advisor, widely used as a source of user-reviewed travel information, shows high praise for the theater, including comments such as "gorgeous video footage" and "awesome video screen that tells you places to visit."

The Adventure Theater is grabbing the attention of the hospitality industry, which is always in search of new and innovative amenities for tourists. Citing early data, Pranger is cautiously optimistic about his investment. He says he'll have a solid idea of the theater's full economic impact by this fall. For now he's happy to be on the cusp of a cutting edge technological niche that will help spotlight the hidden treasures of the southern Oregon coast.

For further information on the Pacific Reef Hotel, check the website: pacificreefhotel.com.

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