Hotel Impossible, Glacier Bear Lodge

After watching this week’s episode of Hotel Impossible, I had the sudden urge to go on vacation and take a fishing trip to the great Alaskan wilderness. However, I am not so sure I would want to stay at the Glacier Bear Lodge where a completely inexperienced owner group has let the place fall apart.

Episode Recap – Lodging Maintenance was a Joke

To be more specific, the 32 room lodge was owned by 4 men with zero hotel experience who treated the lodge as their own private getaway, performing no hotel maintenance and no marketing. One could understand the lack of marketing as there was nothing to left to attract guests.

The objective of host Anthony Melchiorri was easy to determine and fell right in line with prior shows where a lack of hotel management experience and no maintenance put the Lodge’s survival in jeopardy. If hoteliers learn anything from this episode it is that without preventive maintenance, inspections and continual repair a hotel/lodge will not succeed.

Lodge Maintenance

Asset neglect can cause more than just make repairs more expensive. Years of water damage can cause hotel corrosion, mold, insects and health issues. No lodge maintenance also puts guest in danger as simple things like a loose railing can result in significant liability claims should an injury occur.

The maintenance issues at the Glacier Bear Lodge ranged from minor guest inconveniences to severe structural, health and safety problems. Some of the lodge’s maintenance problems identified in the show included:

12 Horrors of Zero Lodge Maintenance

  1. Outer facade looked worn from a distance and even worse up close. Whole areas of rotting wood and missing gutters were found.
  2. Cigarette butts everywhere.
  3. Filthy chairs and furnishings along with nails at eye level placed in walls.
  4. Tissue paper used to fill up holes in window screens.
  5. Roof leaks undetected and/or unaddressed for years. Interior wall damage was severe in a number of locations.
  6. Stair railing that had been broken several months earlier was just barely held in place.
  7. Carpet stained, dirty with disgusting smell.
  8. Lodge assets never cleaned of fish smells.
  9. Door and wall laminate peeling and/or stuck on with duct tape.
  10. Toilet seats as old as the mountains barely attached.
  11. Very thick soap scum buildup in bathrooms.
  12. Drainage issues causing additional water damage to the Lodge.

“One third of guests surveyed say a comfy bed was very important.”

Source: Anthony Melchiorri

If these twelve items were not bad enough, the lodge also had decades old mattresses, linens, pillows along with wildlife (bears) problems due to the improper disposal of fish parts. In addition, locals were not willing to recommend the lodge to sportsman visiting in town.

Essentially the lodge was a rundown dump that was ignorant of guest considerations. The lodge’s only positive features were that is was ideally located in a sports fisherman’s paradise and offered fish cleaning, packing and shipping services.

The Glacier Bear Lodge Fix

As bad as the Glacier Bay Lodge seemed, there was hope. Like the previous shows, Anthony’s team undertook several projects. These included room renovations, creating a mud room, (a room to place wet and smelly fishing garments), basic hotel 101 management lessons and a marketing plan. Taking a glancing look at each of these we can see the lodge potential rise.

The renovations were the most challenging because severe water damage went deep inside the walls. Interior wood, sheetrock, piping all needed some degree of work. Ultimately, the rooms were redone (including flooring and bathroom tiling) and refurbished with donations by corporate sponsors.

The creation of the mud room was the most significant physical achievement. The room provided a place for sportsman’s to stow their gear. This would stop guest from bringing in wet and smelly gear into the lodge’s guestrooms.

The GM was able to hire a maintenance person and was provided a quality set of tools by yet another show sponsor. Anthony did discuss with him the importance of proper inspections and although not discussed I am sure he was also given a lesson on basic work order management.

Lastly the Hotel Impossible team brought in a marketing consultant to develop a marketing plan that included being able to book reservations from the website and the use of print ads in selected magazines and papers.

It is hard to tell if the owners really got the message. They all had successful careers and lodge management was not their highest priority. At the end of the show, the show indicated that since the visit, 10 rooms have now been renovated, guests can book online and reaction has been positive for the mud room. Not exactly awe inspiring results.

Tell us about the hotels you have stayed at. What were their opportunities to improve? Come back next week for another recap of Hotel Impossible.

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