Economy forces Big Bear Lake resort owner to close doors

     Come as a guest, leave as a friend — that was Doreen Wiggins’ motto.
     Not anymore.
     Feeling the brunt of an economic cliff dive in the mountain tourism industry, Wiggins is shutting the doors to Big Bear Lake-based StarGazers Inn & Observatory and listing the cozy six-bedroom resort for $889,900 — far less than the $1.5 million it was appraised for last fall.
     Wiggins’ situation might change if an investor decides to lay down some cash to keep the celestial-theme business afloat for one or two years.
     “I’m still praying for a miracle,” said the former data architect.
     Wiggins put $500,000 into remodeling and expanding the property after buying it in 2000. StarGazers had a sauna, indoor heated saline pool, game room, and a small observatory with an 11-inch telescope imported from Australia for gazing into space.
     The resort never reached profitable occupancy rates, and October’s wildfires sure didn’t help.
     “Unfortunately, a lot of people think the Big Bear area has burned to the ground,” she said. “And other people don’t even know it’s in their back yard.”
     If Wiggins could hold on just a bit longer, her balance sheets would’ve come into the black, she said.
     She has ideas for moving on, but her future career is still in the air.
     “I’m still trying to figure out what the next chapter will be,” Wiggins said. “I’ve always loved people and entertaining them.”
     –matthew.wrye@inlandnewspapers.com

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