Last night's episode of "Hotel Impossible" brought Anthony Melchiorri to Yakutat, AK to help a floundering fishing lodge. This lodge in the middle of Alaska's wilderness is in dire need of help. Anthony met with Rick and Mark. There are seven owners, all friends, who own it, but only two run it. Rick and Mark are aerospace workers who could build an airplane, but are having trouble getting this investment off the ground.
"Glacier Bear Lodge" is a thirty-two room hotel, with a restaurant and bar. As Anthony pulled up, he saw that the place was not completely dilapidated, but it was not in the best of shape either. Anthony was greeted by two dogs, anxious to play fetch with him. There was no front desk, but lots of wild animals, stuffed and mounted. Finally, Anthony met the hotel manager that told him that they did not require a front desk because only two flights a day came into Yakutat, so they knew when guests were arriving.
Anthony refused to sit down in his office, because the chairs were gross. They are usually sat on by people in hunting gear, and never in a suit. He told him when a new person arrives, he gives them info about the area, about the bear problem. Did he say the bear problem? Yakutat is overrun with bears, and he was told to make noise when outside, so as not to encounter a bear. The lodge is in the middle of their feeding area.
When Anthony got to his room, he saw that it is on the low end of what he expected. The place has not been upgraded in many moons. He took the bed apart; it had seen much better days. He said it is one or two steps up from sleeping out in the woods. The bathroom was terrible, old laminated sink cabinet with silver duct tape holding the laminate on the sink and a toilet seat that was ancient.
Antony met with the two owners who run the place and two other owners who just returned from a fishing trip. Among the four of them, their hotel ownership experience equaled zero. Two of the owners come there a few times a year to fish. Nobody has made a dime of the $750,000 invested. Anthony showed them the website. There is nowhere to book online on the site. Another thing it lacked was reviews, so as far as Anthony is concerned, the place does not exist. It seems like it is just a place for friends to meet. No travel agents know about the place and there is no affiliation with online searches.
Anthony called in his designer Casey, who knew that the carpet was the first to go. It was stained and old. Anthony bends down and smelled the carpet which was disgusting. She wanted to fix the place, but it grossed her out.
Anthony met with country music star Craig Morgan, came to town for some fishing in the nearby Situk River. He told Anthony that the fishing in the area, is the best it gets. There are varieties of fish that people save their entire lives to just have a chance to catch, along with millionaires who fly in their private planes there to have the opportunity to catch some of the best fishing of their lives. This place could be a gold mine for the "Glacier Bear Lodge."
People would be willing to sleep in a tent to have the opportunity to fish in this area, which brags that it has the best steelhead, halibut and five varieties of salmon. Anthony even caught a big fish and looking up, they saw a brown bear about 100 feet from them. When returning to the lodge, they offered a service of cleaning, packaging and freezing their catches. Anthony asked the guy who was cleaning the fish where he could rinse off and store his gear. There were hoses available to rinse himself down, but the wet gear is put in their room; another red flag for Anthony to address.
The next morning, the container with the fish guts was turned over, a bear came for breakfast, and there were hundreds of seagulls feasting on the mess. Then Anthony went to the room that Casey was redesigning and found a bigger mess. The roof had been leaking into the wall and down under the floor, possibly for 10-15 years causing the floor to rot. Anthony is now going to check for more building maintenance fiascos. The building was collapsing and wood rotting all around. Pete, the general manager is running out of excuses, and excuses do not sit well with Anthony.
Anthony went to meet with locals to see what they think about "Glacier Bear Lodge." They told him that the lodge provided sales tax revenue for the town. Anthony looked at the lodge's books for ways to save money. They hire town people during the summer, and they depend on the lodge for employment.
Anthony brought in Tara from Liberty Travel to put together a comprehensive marketing plan for free that was worth $80,000. Anthony met with Pete, the general manager again. He gave Anthony his assurance that things will change. Grainger sent them over $3,000 worth of tools to help their maintenance.
Casey designed a mud room for guests to store their gear rather than drag it through the room. This cut down on the smell and kept the rooms cleaner. A brand new floor, fresh mattresses and a new fresh look. American Hotel Register donated the towels for the entire lodge. Marathon Construction from Anchorage, AK completed the work in only two days.
In a short time since Anthony's visit, more rooms were renovated; the mud room was a gigantic hit with clientele, and bookings are booming. Thanks to all the help from Anthony and "Hotel Impossible."