the Colaborative Inc

Izaac Walton Inn

Client: Larry & Lynda Vielleux, Owners

Site: Essex, Montana

The Izaac Walton Inn was built by the railroad at a strategic point along its line, just south of the current border of Glacier National Park. The site is adjacent to a significant pass, which most trains could not ascend or descend without assistance from helper engines. Crews for these engines were housed at the Inn and these helper engines still serve the same function today. The current owners of the Inn retained our services to evaluate the entire facility, and create a redevelopment master plan for the building, ancillary buildings, and the site to maximize efficiency, code compliance, guest safety, and profit potential. Through interviews with the owners and key staff, problems were identified and solved through the design planning process. Our overall plan devised profit-effective solutions for the Inn by redeveloping the kitchen and restaurant spaces for more efficiency, providing more sleeping rooms by layout changes, providing all rooms with private baths to enhance rates and occupancy, and meet current codes. Changes were also mapped out to redevelop current employee housing as a cross-country ski center for the Inn’s extensive cross-country ski operation, and to develop new employee housing, maintenance structures, and other ancillary buildings. Plans involved reducing liability issues by meeting current codes including, ADA accessibility. Further plans involved enhancing profitability by the addition of a hot tub area and improving conference facilities. An outdoor events pavilion was designed to increase the Inn’s potential for attracting special events and an outdoor wedding chapel, adjacent to the pavilion, was sited on a steep hillside in a grove of trees overlooking a mountain stream. This chapel’s visibility from the nearby Amtrak line provides additional marketing opportunities. As a result of the first phase of renovation, the preservation work at the Inn has been completed and the projects have met or exceeded objectives for average daily room rates (ADR) and occupancy levels. The ADR approximately doubled and occupancy levels increased some 40 percent. Even with loan payments, the Inn’s overall profitability, net cash flow, and fair market value have increased. The project was eligible for and received, federal historic preservation tax credits, thus further enhancing the profit-effectiveness of this project.