“I think I was born to do this job,” laughs Rich Myers, Miller Marina manager at Put-in-Bay, Ohio. “Part of my job, believe it or not, is just hanging out, talking to people, making them feel like they’re the only ones here.”
Myers’ attention to detail and treating every guest of the marina as if he is his top priority is what sets Miller Marina apart. In this notoriously busy summer destination, it’s nice to find some peace and quiet and someone who appreciates the little things.
“I've got some college kids who work here in the summer,” says Myers, “and these are the things I teach them: The most important thing for us is not the tips; we care about the customer service. Make these people feel special. When someone reserves a golf cart and calls to tell me he’s on his way, take the cart out to where he’s going to be tying his boat up. Go around to each boat at night before lock-up to make sure everyone has enough ice. It’s the little things like that that put the cherry on top, so to speak.”
Miller Marina is owned and operated by the Market siblings – Julene, Bill and Scott – of Put-in-Bay who also run the Miller Ferry. The company began as an ice delivery service in 1905 by William M. Miller and Harry Jones. During winter months crew members harvested an average of 1000 tons of block ice. Although a hazardous business, the convenient location meant all summer Miller could sell the precious ice to sailors aboard their yachts moored in the bay and to island hotels and restaurants. From there, the company grew into a robust ferry business, and the Market patriarch Bill Market III bought the business in 1978. In 1995, Scott laid out plans for a marina and installed docks, and Miller Marina was born.
“I’ve been here since 2010,” Myers says, “and I’ve watched it grow. We have a capacity limit of 50 boats or so. They aren’t individual slips, but are long finger docks and a protected back channel which is highly sought-after. We have high demand, as you can imagine, with limited availability, so we do take reservations in advance. It’s kind of like a jigsaw puzzle every weekend.”
Myers cracks open his reservation books on April 1st each year and it’s no laughing matter. By Memorial Day weekend, nearly every weekend of the summer is spoken for. There’s no deposit required; he just asks for a five day call-back to let him know you’re still coming. When asked how often he has a cancellation, he just laughs. It’s happened only twice, apparently, in his ten-year tenure.
“We have a two-night minimum stay on weekends starting after Memorial Day,” Myers explains, “which is a Friday night and Saturday night with a Sunday departure. Holidays, though, are three-night stays which would mean staying that Sunday and departing that Monday. Fourth of July is the only one that really floats around, so we have to make that call as we figure out what day of the week the Fourth falls on each year. Other than that, during the week it’s pretty much open to whoever wants to just show up.” Day dockage is usually check-in at noon and depart by 6 pm. Overnight is arrival any time after noon and depart by 11 am the next day, or whenever your departure day is set if you’re staying more than one night.
Myers’ list of amenities at Miller Marina does rattle off the tongue like an upper-crust yacht club. Golf cart rental, top-notch showers, air conditioning, heating, 30-50 amp plug-ins, a large pavilion, grassy lawn for picnics, gift shop with unique, local gifts and a nice selection of cigars.
“Over the years,” Myers quips, “I coined the phrase: We feel like a private club, but we’re open to the public. We have some really nice amenities you’d seek in a private club. The experience speaks for itself when you come here. We just don’t have a pool. But who needs a pool when you have the whole lake in front of you?”
Given Put-in-Bay’s relentless summer schedule of fun, Myers says the biggest draw for boaters with kids or more seasoned boaters is the setting. It’s just close enough to downtown to not feel like you’re missing anything, but far enough removed that you can actually sleep at night. With unobstructed views of the monument and Gibraltar Island, you may not even make it downtown.
“We do so much here that I can never remember all of it. If you’ve never been here before,” Myers instructs, “go to VisitPutInBay.com. There’s an entire list of activities and the calendar lays out every weekend of the summer. Especially with little kids, I like to recommend Pyrate Festival. It’s my personal favorite! Go to the website, figure out what weekends appeal to you and your family, then give me a call back and we’ll see if we can get you a reservation here at Miller Marina.”
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