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Flathead hotel experiences new success

By Kevin Lessard, KCFW Reporter, klessard@kcfw.com
Published On: Sep 22 2013 03:55:55 PM MDT
KALISPELL, Mont. -

It's been a year since the Best Western White Oak Lodge in Kalispell was taken over by new management.

A place that was once rated 19 out of 22 Kalispell area hotels is now rated in the top 2.

Un-heard of growth is what the management at the Best Western Plus Flathead Lake Inn and Suites tell me about their first year of business.

"It's almost miraculous, in fact we would say it is miraculous," said Eric Bahme, the vice president of Spiritfire Hotel Ministries.

They're a non-profit group that own hotels all over the county.

They purchased the Best Western in September of 2012 and tell us they've seen a 60% increase in occupancy.

"We pay property taxes; we're business people just like everybody else," Bahme said.

The one thing Bahme says separates them from most hotels is their responsibility to give back to the community.

"Our proceeds go to helping non-profit work, and we have the advantage of having volunteers to lower costs."

We're told the hotel has a 98% satisfactory rating, which makes it one of the top two in the area.

He believes that's in part to his timely responses to customer’s comments on the hotel rating website Tripadivisor.

"If someone cares enough to leave a comment on Tripadivsor, I believe that an owner should care enough to respond to it,” Bahme said.  “So we respond to every single Tripadvisor comment within 48 hours."

Bahme got his start in the hotel business when he turned around two hotels in Portland.

He tells us he's glad he made the choice to buy this hotel in the Flathead, and while he lives in Portland, Oregon, he doesn't plan on selling this hotel and moving on anytime soon.

Bahme is hosting a seminar on his successful transformation of the Kalispell hotel and others he has built up as well.

You can sign up for the seminar at www.kpisignup.com.

You can also learn more about Bahme’s business successes at www.nehemiahproject.org.