In this new series, we spotlight independent hotels to learn more about the everyday challenges, rewards, and opportunities of running an independent property.
Location: Marquette, Michigan
Open: Year ‘round
Family-owned Cedar Motor Inn offers guests a mix of rustic charm and modern accommodations. Located near the shores of Lake Superior, it’s a place where visitors come to both relax and seek adventure.
We chatted with innkeeper Lyn J. Durant to learn more about what makes her property special and what it takes in today’s world to operate an independent hotel.
Q. Tell us a little bit about your property, including its history, and what makes it unique.
LD: This hotel has been in our family for four generations – 53 years of being family-owned. My husband’s uncle and his sister bought the hotel with their mother in 1967, and by 1980 they had added 13 more rooms, enclosed the hallways and added a pool, spa, and steam sauna. We are now considered a mid-scale hotel by AAA.
Currently my husband, daughter and I are partners, and our daughter serves as General Manager.
Q. How do you promote your property?
LD: Our local university has been here for decades. As a result, and because the hotel has been here for so long, many of the parents stay with us when they bring their children to and from school. We also do some advertising in sports publications for hunting and fishing, as well as in two local visitor guides.
We are also fortunate to have a lot of returning guests. We’ve had many generations of families stay with us, as well as business travelers who have come here for decades until their retirement.
Q. What are some of your pain points when it comes to buying products for your hotel?
LD: Our biggest challenge is the lack of storage at our property. Since we can’t order more than a few cases of anything, sometimes we have to pay more, depending on the supplier. And certain types of products take longer than others – sometimes we get products quickly, while with larger buys, like furniture, there’s a longer wait time.
Q. What are some other types of challenges you face as an independent hotel?
LD: Since we’re family-owned, we have to do whatever’s necessary when short-staffed, and that includes taking on tasks outside of our usual responsibilities. Because of our particular niche, we’re lucky in that we don’t really compete with the chains. Marquette is a very unique locale because we are a destination. Events drive our community, and even if the event is chain-specific, we get the overflow, which is OK with us.
It’s not a matter of overcoming the challenges, it’s dealing with them. Each day is different, so we do what we do best and see what tomorrow brings.
Q. What advice would you give to those new to owning or managing an independent hotel?
LD: You have to have a good working knowledge of everything about running the business: human resources, marketing, accounting, plumbing, maintenance, internet, and sales. My husband, daughter and I complement each other with our knowledge, so I believe that’s why we’ve been successful … that and divine intervention on occasion!