Business

Ainsworth Hot Springs unveils renos

Just in time to mark two anniversaries, Ainsworth Hot Springs has unveiled more than $1 million in renovations.

“It was a huge undertaking,” says general manager Karen LeMoel of the project that saw the pool change rooms redone and every room in the adjacent hotel overhauled. “I can’t tell you how glad I am it’s over.”

Local media and tourism dignitaries had a chance last week to see the upgrades. While some “patchy, band-aidy” fixes have been completed over the years to take care of immediate needs, LeMoel says this project was “pretty much head-to-toe.”

For a year-round resort, it’s a challenge to complete work while staying open as much as possible. The hotel renos began last November 2 and proceeded floor-by-floor. Although scheduled to finish at the end of March, a few glitches along the way pushed completion back to the third week of April.

All 41 rooms received makeovers, while a couple on the third floor were actually combined into a single premium suite.

The new change rooms were completed last month following an eight-day closure, the first extended shutdown at the resort since a new pool lining was put in three or four years ago.

LeMoel says it’s a little easier these days to advertise closures in advance, thanks to their website.

“I remember when they tried radio, newspaper and posters but people would still drive forever [to get here],” she says. “I had someone show up saying ‘I feel like Chevy Chase coming up to Wallyworld.’ I sent her to Halcyon and Nakusp.”

It’s been 50 years since LeMoel’s maternal grandparents, Sam and Belle Homen, bought the hot springs and began transforming them into a major destination resort. Upon retirement, their daughter Joyce and husband Norm Mackie took over. LeMoel, the Mackies’ daughter, has in turn become the third generation to run the resort.

New change rooms were built in 1983 while the present hotel opened 25 years ago this September. Neither have seen any major improvements since.

“It’s just been too long and really needed to be done,” says LeMoel. Of note, the chains you used to have to pull on the showers are gone, replaced with motion sensors.

“Not another day of pulling that string!” LeMoel laughs.

In the summer, the resort employs more than 60 people.

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