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Lions, Tigers and Wasps, Oh My!: Eureka Springs, AR Recap

Anthony travels to Eureka Springs, Arkansas, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. The Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge and Lodge is there and was founded in 1978. It's operated by president Tanya Jackson Smith, her husband Scott, and their family. They save 350 animals since 1978, and currently host over 90 big cats and bears. They added lodging units in 1995, but they called Anthony in to help that side of the business.

When his flight is late, Anthony arrives after dark and finds no there. They key and the paperwork are in a box on the outside, and Anthony points out that it isn't very safe. He's supposed to go to the Kilimanjaro Safari Lodge, but has no idea where it is. There's no contact number for him to call.

As Anthony makes his way through the complex, he hears growling coming from behind a cage. Continuing on, Anthony finally finds his lodge and discovers a can of Raid outside. He goes in and admits that it's nicer than he thought. The roof is fabric and the toilet lid is a 3D holographic projection of animal heads.

The next morning, Anthony leaves the lodge and admits that that it was a pleasant experience. He relaxes on the porch but sees wasps in the rafters. Anthony sprays them and complains that he shouldn't have to do it to feel safe. When Anthony walks out, he discovers that the canopy is dirty and has holes in it.

Anthony goes to the office to check in and points out that there are no lights on the refuge sign. First he looks at his paperwork and discovers that guests have to be 18 years or older because of the expensive artwork. Children aren't allowed, and Anthony figures that it's the perfect destination for families. Inside, Anthony looks at the souvenir shop and finally gets to talk to a lodging manager after she deals with the clients. He explains his concerns and asks if anyone complains. The lodging manager, Bethany, says that the emergency number is in his room, and Anthony tells her that they need to leave a flashlight out for guests. Bethany tells him that they haven't hired anyone to stay late to greet guests, and Anthony explains about the wasps. She dismisses it as nature, and says that they have to ban children because of the insurance company. Bethany says that they have three family units and confirms that they're sold out of them while the adult units are empty. Anthony figures that they're turning people away when they have empty rooms because they don't know about hospitality. Bethany says that they haven't had any cages, and Anthony points out that he just complained. He then confirms that she's only been in the job for a year.

Next, Anthony meets with Tanya and Scott, and they drive him around to see the animals. Tanya admits that the tigers are almost always aggressive, particularly at feeding time. Anthony then sits down with them and they explain that all of their money goes to the refuge. About 45,000 people come there a year, and Anthony figures that they'd get more visitors if they provided more lodging. He points out that the three family suites have made more money than the five adult suites. Anthony then asks why they put a woman with no experience in charge of lodging management, and they say that she has a degree in lodging management. The Smiths get most of their money from donors, and Anthony says that the revenue from the lodging will get more money for them.

Anthony brings in designer Carrie Lockley to solve the problem of the refuge needing more rooms. He tells her that it's more of a build project and he needs her to build family-friendly accommodations in three days from scratch.

The owners' son Victor arrives and says that it took a year to build the eight units that they have. He has army surplus tents but isn't sure how to put them up, and Victor takes her to the shed where he keeps them. The haul out the boxes with a winch and take them back to the refuge.

While Carries goes to work, Anthony meets with Emily, the animal curator. She takes him behind the scenes to see the feeding time but warns that it's dangerous to feed them. Emily explains that she has a degree in zoology, and she always wanted to work with tigers. Two women are there for animal security. One of them, Katie says that they help clean rooms when they need to. She wasn't given any training and Anthony tells Emily that they need to take their passion for taking care of the animals to the guests as well.

Anthony calls a meeting with the family, including Miranda the gift shop manager. Victor is the head of maintenance, and Anthony shows them video of the shop. Guests come in and Bethany explains about the 18-and-over policy, and Anthony points out to the Smiths that they just gave away money. When the family says that the animals are the first priority, Anthony says that the first priority is making money. He brings in the mother and son from the video, Laura and her son Cole, and Cole says that he was a little mad about being turned away. He'd rather stay at the refuge if it was open for kids, and Scott says that he wants to work toward providing rooms for kids.

Once the family leaves, Anthony tells the Smiths that they have to change the adult lodging to family lodging. The Smiths agree to consider it.

As Carrie continues working with her team, Anthony talks to Miranda off-camera. He confirms that she has a tattoo, the symbol for hospitality, on her arm. Miranda has a degree in hospitality and wants to stay in the business. Anthony suggests that they make Miranda the lodging manager rather than Bethany, but she's reluctant because is 24/7. He says that she has a team and will give her things to support her, and assures her that she has everything that he would want if he ran the business. Miranda agrees and Anthony gives her his hotel operations guide. He also gives her an online bookstore for every department, and then tells Bethany that Miranda will be her boss. Bethany agrees that it's a great idea because she knows the business and the refuge,

Next, Anthony puts Miranda and Victor through his hotel management boot camp, He has them each inspect a cabin and make a list of problems, and the person who finds the most wins. They go to work and each find eleven issues, but they missed Anthony's biggest concern. He shows them a non-functioning smoke detector and says that they should be shocked it isn't working. Anthony then turns on a faucet and shows that it's loose. The shower plastic insert is dirty, and Anthony figures that they have a lot to learn. He has them stay in one of the rooms overnight and find all the things that are wrong.

Anthony meets with the refuge's board and they admit that money is always an issue. Scott admits that the last time the rates were changed were ten years ago. Anthony says that they can get $600 for a unit over the Fourth of July, over their current rate of $175 every day of the year. The hotelier says that the board is the tightest group of people he's met and has them give themselves a round of applause.

On the final day, the entire town of Eureka Springs come out to the see the new family accommodations. Anthony introduces Carrie, who introduces Jason from Janacek Remodeling. They then cut the ribbon for the new accommodations and go inside. Carrie explains that she wanted it family-friendly, and it only cost $7,000. If they build ten of them and sell them at $175, they'd make their money back in the first year. Anthony has designed a shared bathroom unit made with donated lumber and plumbing. Finally, Anthony shows the Smiths an outdoor fire pit. American Hotel Register has donated all of the sheets and towels that they need for the other nine units. Anthony hugs everyone and figures that the family has tools to go forward and not rely on others to keep the refuge going.

Written by Gadfly on Nov 9, 2016

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