Lake Superior, Hotel Inferior: Bayfield, WI Recap

Anthony goes to Bayfield, Wisconsin, on the shores of Lake Superior. He checks out the Apostle Island sea caves, one of the most traveled-to destinations on Lake Superior. However, the 12-room Gruenke's First Street Inn, in the heart of Bayfield, is losing money. Judith Lokken Strom owns the place, which has a busy restaurant, and also owns a pizza place in the building.

When Anthony arrives, he discovers that he enters the hotel through the restaurant. There's a sign with check-in times written on front, and the lobby is the diner. The GM, Rachel, is working and Anthony admires the old-fashioned décor. However, he warns that it's not a lobby and he'd rather check in and then get introduced to the diner. Rachel admits that it's a bottleneck between the hotel guests and the restaurant customers. She has an old-fashioned ledger to check guest registrations, and the off-season rate is $68 for a regular room. Anthony laughs and says that it's $7 higher in the peak season. He explains that it should be 50% higher in peak season, and Rachel says that she's going by Judith's numbers from the last year. She points out that the ledger is full of credit card numbers and doesn't get locked up, and Anthony warns that the hotel is liable if the information is stolen.

Rachel describes the reservation system, which comes through the webervations system from the Chamber of Commerce. Once she gets the information, she records it in the ledger and then logs into the system. She describes the lengthy procedure for Anthony and admits that it's a cross-referencing nightmare. Rachel then shows Anthony to the inspection room, and there's toilet paper on a shelf at the top of the stairs. There's also a bust of a little boy, and Anthony puts it out of sight. There are stains on the rug and the ceiling, and Rachel warns that it's nothing compared to some of their other maintenance issues.

The GM takes Anthony to Room 3, and explains that Judith calls it the Cowboy Room. The carpet is stained and dirty, and they enter the room. Anthony pus on a cowboy hat from a rack and sits on the bed, and says that the décor is a mix of different eras. Rachel agrees that it's a mish-mash, and she offers to show him up another room one floor up. It's the Blue Room, and Anthony admits that he likes the room better. The chair is covered in dust and the cushion has stains, and the bed is in front of a closet. There's a brick on the floor, and Rachel admits that she's never seen the door open. Among the things inside is a pair of sunglasses, a basketball, and a black sock covered in dust. Rachel says that the inn is an afterthought, and Judith figure that the rooms are a given on busy weekends. However, they only sell rooms because their rates are cheap and they're the only place left.

Anthony brings in designer Britany Simon to make the hotel the main attraction. When she arrives, she finds Anthony making egg creams in the diner. He serves her one but Britany is less than impressed. Anthony shows her the Cowboy Room, and Britany agrees that it's a mish-mash. He tells Britany to go around, look at all of the rooms, and create a template. Britany and her team from Nasi Construction go to work.

Next, Anthony meets with Judith, her son Jarod who is the assistant manager, and her daughter Joanna, who doesn't work there. He tells Judith that she's losing 50% revenue, but she doesn't think so. Anthony warns her that she made the last amount of money on the most profitable area of her business: the hotel. Judith says that Rachel is wonderful and she used to do everything herself. Anthony asks Jarod and Joanna why they didn't take over. Joanna says that she didn't want to get in, and Jarod gives Rachel days off. He doesn't want to run the place, and it's been a challenge to bring in any changes because of Judith.

Anthony reads them online negative reviews. One guest was booked for a two-night stay but the hotel thought it was a one-night stay, and someone threw their things into a garbage bag and put it out onto the street. Judith says that she wasn't there and Housekeeping did it, and Anthony tells them that they have to give them a folio and have the guest initial it. They don't do that, and Jarod says that the system is difficult because of Judith's actions. Judith complains that she isn't appreciated, and Jarod says that the business has ruined their relationship with his mother. He tells Anthony that the business it the most important part of his life, but both children explain that Judith's work consume her

Later, Anthony meets with the employees to get their take. Many of them work in the restaurant but also book rooms, and they've all made mistakes trying to do both. They agree that it holds them up as servers because they're on the phone taking reservations, and they're losing tip money. Anthony then meets with Tammy, one of the two staff member working full-time on the hotel side. Tammy and her husband clean all of the rooms and squeeze in maintenance when they can. Her husband is handy and she's painted the rooms on her own time. Tammy doesn't know who the GM is, Rachel or Jarod, and says that Jarod often acts like the GM but never takes care of things. She also admits that Jarod and Judith don't get along, and has seen them clash. Tammy ended up dealing with the problem, and Anthony figures she's the only one fixing things.

Anthony takes Rachel around the property to see the major maintenance issues and find out if she has a plan. The smoke detector doesn't work, and one bathroom shower is leaking into the room below. Rachel hasn't been allowed to hire anyone to do it, and the TVs are often broken. Anthony says that she has to have a checklist of things to get fixed, and Rachel should simplify the systems. He tells he that she has to write the book, not read it.

The producers learn that Rachel is mad at Anthony and tell him. He meets with her and Rachel says that she's upset that he's pointing out miniscule things. She has issues with an autistic son and right now they're having a bad day. Rachel breaks into tears and apologizes for getting upset about it, and Anthony sympathizes that she's working two full-time jobs. He tells her as much, and Rachel shows him a list of people that she needs. They're all restaurant staff, and Anthony needs someone who can manage the hotel. He suggests that Rachel maybe shouldn't be in charge of the inn.

Anthony sets up a stress test, letting Judith and Jarod know what is happening. As he watches on a camera, the guest comes in and Jarod checks him in. Jarod abruptly tells him what the room is like. Next, a mother comes in with her children to make a reservation. Judith doesn't offer them a seat or anything to drink, and argues with Jarod in front of the guest. Another woman comes in to get a job application, and Judith doesn't know where they are. Rachel is watching with Anthony, and says that Judith should know. Judith doesn't know if they're looking for employees even though the busy season is coming up, and ignores the applicant. Jarod finally asks the woman to wait until Rachel gets back, and more people come in. Judith looks confused and Jarod looks annoyed. Anthony figures that neither one of them have the management or hospitality skills to run the inn.

With one day left, Britany and her team encounter problems with the lopsided door frames and slanted floors. Meanwhile, Anthony figures that Tammy should take over as GM while Rachel runs the restaurant. However, he needs Judith to step back and give up control, even though she's been running the place for 40 years. Anthony has Judith sit down with her children, and they admit that they worry about her. They want Judith to enjoy the place, and Jarod says that the important thing is that she's comfortable and happy.

Anthony comes in with Rachel and Tammy, and points out that Judith seemed overwhelmed during the stress test. He tells her that she's more useful as a historian giving advice to Rachel, and asks Judith to step aside and let Rachel and Tammy take over the restaurant and hotel, respectively. Judith agrees to step aside, and Anthony tells Jarod that it's up to Tammy how involved he is.

The group check out the lobby, which has been cleaned up and streamlined. There's a new computer with PMS that can also be on their iPad. Anthony also has a certificate from eCornell for Tammy so she can take an online course. Tammy and Rachel get to work, and Anthony takes Judith and her children up the stairs. It's been repainted and refloored, and the stand has coffee and flowers. He introduces Britany and the team from Nasi Construction. Anthony then takes them into the remodel bedroom with a nautical theme from the wallpaper and an easily-installable wood floor that matches the hallway. There's new signage made specifically for the inn, and American Hotel Register donated robes and the coffee station. The family says that now the hotel makes them feel excited rather than angry, and everyone hugs.

Written by Gadfly on Dec 6, 2016