Hotel Impossible, Water Gap Country Club

As I finished watching this week’s episode of Hotel Impossible I discovered that I had fewer notes than any previous episode for all seasons of the show. The reason is simple; there was only one significant hotel problem that has been the general theme of each episode this season.

The problem at Water Gap Country Club was straightforward, the new owners, Sean and Julie Lyons did not have any hotel experience. In addition, none of the hotel staff had hotel experience either. The twist and challenge for Anthony was to ready the hotel so it could host a wedding in less than two days.

What hoteliers can learn from this episode is limited so the post will be relatively short this week. So to get to the point, the Water Gap Country Club is a 24 room hotel located in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania and features a banquet facility and a top notch PGA golf course.

Episode Recap: No Experience

The show began with the usual arrival and first impressions inspection. It did not take long to identify the hotel’s physical needs. Most of the hotel inspection items were minor and included:

  • A front entrance with chipped columns.
  • Mold growing on chairs.
  • Dirty outdoor patio furniture
  • Cigarette butts piling up outside.
  • The lobby was in in need of a renovation and had a smell of oldness.
  • Room doors needing painting.
  • Dust buildup on picture frames and ceiling fans.
  • Some stained carpeting.
  • Dirty but not disgusting toilets.

Nothing the Hotel Impossible crew presented indicated that the hotel’s physical condition was overwhelming. All of the hotel maintenance items above could be addressed with a little bit of elbow grease, minor repairs or a quick renovation.

In fact, some parts of the hotel were kept up quite well including the PGA caliber golf course and reception room. Clearly the challenges for rookie owners were to open as soon as possible while learning about the hotel industry and how to market their investment.

To their credit the owners seemed adept at recognizing they needed help. This set the stage for a two-part fix. The tasks for the Hotel Impossible crew were to first ready the hotel for the wedding and secondly to teach the owners and staff how to run a hotel.

The Fixes and What Hoteliers Should Learn

Unlike many other episodes the owners enthusiastically accepted the direction and changes from Anthony. This was important as it is forms the basis for what Hoteliers can learn from this episode.

Having no hotel experience hurts new hoteliers but it is not always a fatal flaw. Experience has to be earned. It cannot be found in a leather binder or ingested. The key to a crash course in obtaining experience is a willingness to learn. I could write volumes on the criticalness of having the proper attitude and energy for learning.

If you take away something from this episode it is that many successful people are driven to accomplish more. They have a willingness to learn and adapt regardless of the time that is required. So make sure that if you are buying a hotel and/or are new to the industry you check your energy and attitude towards learning first.

With that said, the fixes provided by the Hotel Impossible team for the Water Gap Country Club included:

Other Water Gap Country Club Fixes

  • Renovating and cleaning the bridal suite.
  • Cleanup of the patio furniture and area including some painting.
  • A renovated more modern lobby.
  • A property management system.
  • A new website.
  • Bringing in a golf course consultant who suggested turning the clubhouse into a restaurant and bar and use its spectacular view to earn an additional $400k.
  • Suggesting to Sean that he bring in a professional, experience hotel manager for the future to keep things on track.

At the show’s conclusion I personally felt that the hotel had an excellent chance of being successful. The final trailing screen indicated that golf memberships were up, the hotel has done four more weddings and is booked on weekends now. Just to make sure my perception was correct; I checked Tripadvisor and found one glowing review after another.

My hat is tipped in recognizing the Hotel Impossible team for accomplishing so much in so little time.

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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