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So you and your spouse need a vacation alone away from the kids and the pressures of work, but you’re too busy to make airline, hotel and car reservations let alone arrange for child care and find a kennel to board the family cat or dog. What do you do? Take an afternoon off and visit the Sybaris Pool Suites. Once guests settle in, they will relax and enjoy premium accommodations featuring their very own private swimming pool, whirlpool tub, misting steam room, waterfall and cozy fireplace. The Chalet Suite even has a second floor loft with a water slide!

“After spending an afternoon or an entire day at the Sybaris, guests will feel like they’ve been away on a tropical island vacation,” promises Ken Knudson, owner and chief executive officer of the company he founded in 1974.

Currently, there are five Sybaris locations in the Midwest area: three near Chicago (Downers Grove, Northbrook, and Frankfort, IL), one near Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and the newest in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Sybaris Pool Suites was presented the International Award of Excellence for 1999 as the Best Romantic Getaway in the U.S. by the Restaurant & Hospitality Rating Bureau. “The award motivated our company to do its best to exceed customers’ expectations,” says Knudson, a former world champion karate master and owner of nine martial arts schools in the Chicago area in the 1970’s. “I created Sybaris as a private club that provides a special place where couples can schedule precious time alone together. It became obvious years ago that the most important factor in maintaining a successful relationship was time, time for talking, laughing, sharing and romancing. Time for just each other.”

Knudson has been described as a “complex man, who has the ability to focus on whatever he’s doing and follow through with it.” The tremendous success of the Sybaris concept is among Knudson’s many successful ventures.

The Corporate Management Team

Rande Repke, vice president, has been with Sybaris since its inception and is an instrumental part of the internal Sybaris operation. Repke handles all banking relations and works with attorneys and the outside accounting firm.

Under the capable direction of the company’s internal corporate management staff and its outside accounting team headed by Randy Sylvan, Sybaris has continued to grow at a conservative pace, according to Repke.

And despite the slowing of the economy, Sybaris Pool Suites maintains a loyal customer base and continues to attract new customers. The company’s annual audit which was performed by Rehbock, Applebaum, Sylvan and Herzog in mid February confirmed that Sybaris had a good year. “We were very pleased indeed with the revenues generated by our properties,” comments Repke.

In December 2000, Sybaris also moved its corporate offices to a modern 20,000-sq.-ft. – building in Arlington Heights and built three additional units at the Indianapolis Sybaris out of cash flow. Sales from the three units will add about 15% of annual revenue to the Indianapolis property, based on a conservative occupancy rate.

“We enjoyed some revenue growth this year and we accomplished some capital expansion,” adds corporate controller and vice president of finance, Ronald Kasper, who oversees the entire corporate accounting department and is responsible for internal audit.

“While there is always a big push to get our annual audit and our year-end corporate tax returns done, Randy Sylvan and the other partners and staff at R.A.S.H. are there for us 365 days per year. We are very happy with the service we get from the CPA firm, which is why we’ve stayed with them for more than a decade,” adds Kasper.

The Gold Rose

With the opening of Gold Rose Gifts this May, Knudson realized another of his dreams – to create a retail gift shop. The “showcase product is a natural rose dipped in 24KT gold. Balloon bouquets, teddy bears, bath robes and wraps, shirts and sweatshirts and a dozen fresh red roses are also sold in the gift shop as well as at Sybaris properties. The gift shop is located in the corporate headquarters at 2430 East Rand Road.

“The 24KT preserved rose remains as beautiful and magnificent as any natural flower,” says Knudson.

The rose is actually part of the history of the Sybaris. Legend has is that the Sybarites who lived in the ancient Greek city of Sybaris were probably the first to use the rose as the symbol of romance, love and beauty.

Today, the rose is still the most romantic of flowers. Yet, its beauty fades after reaching full bloom. Not so with a gold rose.

Knudson says: “When you give someone a rose, it means, ‘I love you.’ When you give someone a gold rose, it means, ‘I love you forever.'”

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