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Full Throttle in Sturgis: Sturgis, SD Recap

Anthony takes on three hotels in Sturgis, South Dakota. He arrives in Sturgis a few weeks before the annual Sturgis Motorcycle rally on a motorcycle, with over 800,000 people there a day who spend $800 million there during the rally. First Anthony goes to the 16-room Ponderosa Motor Lodge, owned by Dan and Joyce Carston. The exterior is nice although the name sounds very 1970s. There are bikes and American Flags outside, and Anthony goes to inspect one of their cabins first before he meets with the Carstons. The water boiler is next to the toilet, and there are yellow stains on the sink and a broken water heater. There's a coat rack at eye height that is loosely fastened to the wall, and the bed is on the rollers. The light is right above the bed and has dust on it, and the sink has paper clips holding a skirt onto the sink.

Next, Anthony heads to Deadwood to check on the Cedar Wood Inn, owned by Gordon Mack. It's only occupying 23% occupancy, despite the attractive exterior. There's a sign inviting room inspection, and Anthony takes them up on it offer. The room smells good and has a hardwood floor. Anthony smells the carpet and confirms that it's fresh, there's no dust, and the wall behind the couch is clean. Even the bathroom is perfect, but the reviews rank it 20 out of 24 in the area.

Finally, Anthony goes to the Recreational Springs Resort, owned by Brett and Stephanie Marlette. The front door leads into the restaurant, and Anthony goes looking for the lobby. He finds it in a building off to the side with no signage, and the owner Stephanie finally comes out. She says that the front desk used to be there but now they use it to store wood. Stephanie takes Anthony back to the restaurant, and explains that they had a smaller staff so they could only man one register. Anthony points out that the two spaces are connected and it only needs one person.

Anthony sits down with Stephanie and Brett, and they say that they have a restaurant, bar, 18 motel rooms, 6 cabins, and 50 RV hook up spots. The couple has two full-time employees and they're there all the time, and Anthony figures that they need at least seven employees to run the place properly. The Marlettes have lost $18,000 in the last year, and the $900,000 that they paid for it is due in four years. Anthon warns them that it's never going to happen, and says that they need to show profit to refinance. He plans to talk to the person who owns the deed and hopefully refinance the loan.

Since Recreational Springs is in the most trouble, Anthony brings in designer Carrie Locklyn via a four-wheeler to renovate the front desk. He also wants her to build a mud room for people coming in from their RVs. Back at the Ponderosa, Anthony sits down with Dan and Joyce to find out why he's there. The couple says that they're breaking even, and Anthony points out that they don't have a third-party presence online. They agree that their marketing skills aren't very good, and confirm that they were sold out a year ago before the rally. Their rate of $240 is too low for the market, and Anthony says that they can sell rooms for $500 each. He tells them to avoid repeat guest and get newcomers in, because the repeat guests expect the previous year's rates.

Later, Anthony meets with Gordon and his daughter Amelia, who works there and at a local chain hotel. He points out their online presence isn't very good because they don't have a lot of reviews. Most prospective guests only look at the top five ranked hotels. Gordon is charging $190 to $300, and Amelia agrees with Anthony that it's ridiculously low. She says that she can get $800 a night at the chain that she works at, but the Cedar Wood is nicer. Anthony tells Gordon to raise his rate 25%. Gordon says that he built a 400-square foot tree house four years ago, and Anthony has him take him to see it.

The tree house has a sky net and a gateway modeled after Lord of the Rings. Anthony is shocked that Gordon is losing money when he has that kind of vision, and wants to put together a marketing plan to sell the tree house.

Back at the Recreational Springs, Anthony sees a couple checking out the wedding venue with no one selling them the space. The owners were going to email them some information but didn't walk them around the space. They would book some rooms along with the venue, and Anthony says that they'll do a package for the rooms, venue, and alcohol. Later, they come back and Anthony has them meet with Stephanie. He has Stephanie present her routine and they're impressed with the packages. Anthony agrees and is impressed with Stephanie.

Anthony goes to the Ponderosa and has Carrie given one of the cabins an updated look. He tells her to fix it and leaves immediately to create a unique marketing campaign. The owners have a working farm and Anthony figures that it's a perfect amenity to add to the hotel.

After taking some off to see Mt. Rushmore, Anthony shows Gordon and Amelia a new website that shows off the tree house. He plans to use it as a loyalty club reward and gives them a marketing plan worth $60,000.

Carrie and her team are working on the Ponderosa and Recreational Springs. Anthony meets with the Marlettes and counts up all of the businesses that they have. He says that they need to come up with a budget for busy season and then delineate their jobs so they become owners, not workers. The business partners, Anita and Will, come in and meet with Anthony and the Marlettes. The partners admit that the Marlettes won't be able to pay them back, and figure they can make their money back by selling the property. He asks if they'll change the arrangement, and the partners agree to do so. Anthony advises a 20-year loan with monthly payments, and Anita breaks into tears. She explains that she wrote the original contract and they later felt that they would have to rewrite it, and they're confident that the Marlettes can make a go of it.

Later, Anthony tells the Marlettes that they're going to rebrand their wedding venue as the Spring Pavilion, separate from the hotel. He then shows them the sign for the lobby, and the new lobby. Anthony introduces Carrie and explains that she separated the space for them and created the mud room. Ingenious gives them a PMS and one year of free assistance, and Stephanie hugs Anthony.

At the Ponderosa, Anthony shows the Carstons the remodeled cabin. He brings in Carrie and Jeff from Dakota Winds Construction, and Anthony thanks Jeff. He and Carrie leave, and Anthony shows the Carstons their new sign with the new hotel, Ponderosa Pines. He also has a new web site for them, showing the farm as an amenity to the hotel. Anthony has created a new marketing plan for them, and Anthony figures that he's done what he can to make the hotels ready for the rally.

Written by Gadfly on Oct 28, 2016

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