KAYSVILLE — The story of Cherry Hill resort began with a coin toss.
Grant Lloyd lost a coin toss when his father needed to divide his 38-acre farm between his two sons, says Bruce Lloyd, Grant’s son and Cherry Hill co-owner.
The winner of the toss, Reed Lloyd, chose 18 acres with better soil on the north side of the cherry orchard.
As consolation, Grant Lloyd received 20 acres — including two acres of sand that couldn’t grow vegetation.
“That was the luckiest unlucky thing that happened,” said Bruce Lloyd’s brother Keith Lloyd, also a co-owner. “He lost the coin toss, and in the end we ended up getting this valuable property down this interchange (U.S. 89).”
The brothers often say they are happy about that loss.
“We’ve taken Just-A-Mere Farm and grew it into Cherry Hill,” said Bruce Lloyd.
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Just-A-Mere Farm was the name Lloyd’s grandfather, C.A. Lloyd, called his farm from the time he bought it in 1923. The Cherry Hill name came about a short time after the resort was established at 1325 S. Main in Kaysville.
As Cherry Hill’s water park opens this afternoon for the park’s 50th year, the Lloyd brothers reflect on the coincidences that brought their successful business into being.
Although sandy ground seemed to be a disadvantage at first, the sand turned out to be the secret to Cherry Hill’s success, they said. The farm on a bluff became a hill with the Utah Department of Transportation’s purchase of huge amounts of the infertile sand from the property for a widening project along U.S. 89.
Grant Lloyd used the money from the sale of sand to begin developing his property, according to Cherry Hill’s promotional material.
The cultural phenomenon, in about 1967, involving families traveling the country and looking for inexpensive camping gave Grant Lloyd the opportunity to develop a campground on the U.S. 89 frontage, Bruce Lloyd said..
Realizing campers staying next to a cherry orchard would be tempted to pick the cherries off the trees, his father told campers they could have all they wanted, Bruce Lloyd said.
“They were going to eat them anyway,” Bruce Lloyd said. “We made it a positive thing. My dad was charging only $3 to $4 to camp. They probably got that in cherries.”
The moniker Cherry Hill came as a result, he said.
The oil embargoes of the 1970s led Grant Lloyd to rethink his business, developing attractions over time to draw local customers. The first was a miniature golf course he built himself in 1978. The water park aspects followed.
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Ironically, the property was available for development only because Grant’s father couldn’t attract any buyers. He tried for years to sell the farm, Bruce Lloyd said.
“My grandfather put it up for sale right when the Depression hit ... for 9 or 10 years,” Keith Lloyd said. “He never had one person ever talk to him about it.”
Times were so tough for their grandparents during the Depression that C.A. Lloyd took the wheels off the family car, Bruce Lloyd said. The family would walk a mile and a half to church.
Even with that upbringing, Keith Lloyd said his father was a self-made man who took risks. Grant Lloyd invested in a gas station and a restaurant preceding Cherry Hill, Keith Lloyd said.
Cherry Hill was an instant success.
“That first summer, we had 1,700 camper nights,” Bruce Lloyd said. “There were a few years when we had 20,000.”
Credit also is given to matriarch Mary Lou Lloyd. The brothers recall many times their mother hauled them into restrooms to help clean them. Even at 75, his mother retained a deep work ethic, Bruce Lloyd said.
The mother’s accommodating ways are behind why so many people have enjoyed camping there, Bruce Lloyd said.
“She was the heart of Cherry Hill,” he said. “My dad was the brain.”
At one time, camping was 100 percent of the business, but today it is about 20 percent; the themed attractions have found more popularity, Bruce Lloyd said.
Large racing water slides, the park’s newest attraction, are set to open sometime next month.
The project is giving the next generation of Lloyds experience in developing park improvements.
This week, Mitch Lloyd, Keith’s son, was overseeing the project while Jared Lloyd, Bruce’s son, was working on promoting the resort and the new addition.
“This has been baptism by fire,” said Mitch Lloyd, 28, of the enormity of orchestrating the construction. “It’s been a perfect project to get my feet wet.”
“It’s been fun working here since I was a kid,” said Jared Lloyd, 34. “I had to grow up fast. We all did.”
The two are set to take over the resort from their fathers in the next few years.
They are the fourth generation of Lloyds to make a living off of the farm their grandfather bought in 1923.