Friday, July 31, 2009

Steelhead harvest starts on lower clearwater river.

Anglers have been catching and releasing steelhead on the lower Clearwater River since the beginning of July; starting Saturday, August 1 they can take some home...
Read more at the Idaho Fish ad Game website:

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Featured Business In Lewistown Tribune

This is an article about the lodge that was in the Lewistown Tribune on Sunday, April 19th.

Stay & Play
Squeezed by tight economy, many regional residents find dollars go further the closer they stay to home.

By: Elaine Williams of the Tribune

Disneyland and Sun Valley will wait.

Vacationers will likely be looking for less-expensive destinations as they pack their bags this summer, heading for places where their dollar stretches further and the miles to get there are shorter, says Kelly Dahlquist, regional tourism coordinator for the North Central Idaho Travel Association in Lewiston.

Dahlquist bases her forecast on sales tax revenue from hotels in north central Idaho, which increased in the four months ending in January even as places such as Boise, Sun Valley and Coeur d’Alene experienced declines. “The resorts have really seen a hard struggle. We have a strong tourism base still.”

Owners of at least two businesses in north central Idaho and southeastern Washington catering to tourists that have opened in the soft economy of the last year hope those trends continue. The Idaho Sportsman Lodge in Stites and Coyote Flat Lodge near Anatone provide places for groups to gather with many of the amenities of home, such as fully equipped kitchens.

The Sportsman Lodge is a complex of four units that are similar to condominiums, only they have log walls. Each has a great room on the main floor with a kitchen and sitting area, along with a master bedroom with its own bathroom. A ladder leads to a second-story loft where a large room has a queen-sized bed and three twin beds.

The interiors are decorated like those of upscale hotel rooms. The bathrooms are tiled. An office nook is wired for high-speed Internet not far away from a flat screen television.

The rates depend on how many people stay in the units and the upper story remains locked if it’s not in use, says Troy Hall II, an owner of the accommodations, who lives in Stites. The rates start at $89 per night for two people and go to $189 for all the beds.

So far business at the Sportsman Lodge is exceeding their expectations given the economic conditions. The Halls have reduced hours and cut staff at one of their other enterprises, the Chatterbox Cafe, which Hall says has become a destination.

The goal differs for the owners of Coyote Flat Lodge. Mike and Lee Ann Erickson purchased the 30 acres because they eventually hope to retire there.

The income from the lodge is intended to offset the payments on the property. The Ericksons reside in Filer, Idaho, near Twin Falls, and hold other jobs. He sells seed treatments for MacGregor in southern Idaho. His wife does inside sales for Gem State Paper.

They’ve fixed up Coyote Flat Lodge to have it be just as if they were full-time residents. The shelves are filled with Western novels that he enjoys. Guests can bring their dogs and horses and they can park motorized toys such as four-wheelers in a 900-square-foot garage. The lodge has a laundry room with a full-sized washer and dryer. It also has high-speed Internet, landline telephone service and satellite television.

It has a master bedroom on the main floor along with two other bedrooms with bunk beds that sleep six. A loft is split by a divider into two sleeping areas, each with a queen-size bed and futon. All together it sleeps 16 and costs $240 per night or $1,500 per week to rent.

What makes it different from home, Erickson says, is the setting and its absence of distractions that consume time in people’s everyday routines. The chance of seeing a deer or wild turkey outside the window is higher than that of spotting a neighbor. More than 20 kinds of wild birds frequent the property at different times of year.

Visitors have spent their time snowmobiling, hunting, fishing, reading, walking, playing board games, knitting and eating. As long as the groceries hold out, there’s no reason to go to town. “It’s kind of like camping, only with luxuries,” Erickson says.

As the tendency of vacationers to stay close to home intensifies, the appeal of places such as the Sportsman Lodge and Coyote Flat Lodge will probably grow — especially because they’re so affordable, Dahlquist says. “We don’t have to create it. It’s already here. All we have to do is nurture it.”

Hotels in Riggins are getting vacationers from Boise who like that boating and hiking seasons open earlier there than in their hometown.

Guests at the Best Western in Orofino come from as close as Moscow and Lewiston.

“It doesn’t take a lot of gas,” Dahlquist says. “It doesn’t cost a lot of time. It’s a great getaway.”

And those who are still employed are being careful not to take their jobs for granted even when they take a break, Dahlquist says. “People are hesitant to be away from their jobs too long. Everybody is on their best behavior.”

Hall agrees with Dahlquist that it’s still possible to find niches of customers.

Anglers filled the rooms almost every day in February and March when it was steelhead season. “The world may come to an end, but they’re going to be (fishing) until it happens,” Hall says.

Hall is using that clientele as a starting point. Many of the men came with their fishing buddies and liked the accommodations so well they’ve promised to return with their wives. He pointed out other kinds of recreation in the area, such as the backroads that lead from Stites all the way to Elk City for four-wheelers, and spots to snowmobile.

Twenty minutes from the Sportsman Lodge, snowmobiles can be in the snow and in another 45 minutes they can reach 5 to 6 feet of snow, Hall says. “We’ve got so much powder no one ever puts a machine to. It’s not crazy type of snowmobiling. It’s family type of snowmobiling.”

As much potential as Hall sees for his lodge, he admits that had he known what would happen to the economy he probably would have waited. Still, he trusts his own instincts.

He was a drywall contractor before opening the Chatterbox and then the lodge to have a job that was less physical. He had the property for both ventures because over the years he purchased land with his savings instead of putting it into the stock market. He believes his investments are now doing better than if they were in equities.

He kept the project costs of the businesses low by doing almost all the work himself and, with the Sportsman Lodge, financed everything other than the furnishings himself, Hall says.

“I’ve always been one to take the risk if I thought the rewards were there.”

*If you go*
Idaho Sportsman Lodge
105 East St., Stites
(208) 926-4766

Coyote Flat Lodge
26 miles south of Clarkston on State Highway 129
Contact: Mike Erickson, (208) 305-7458

Friday, April 10, 2009

Building the Lodge

I was pleased to hear that the lodge will be featured in an upcoming acrticle in the Lewistown Tribune. I wanted to provide the reporter, who was writing the article, with some pictures of the contruction of the lodge. I made a photo slide show that shows these pictures.

Created with flickr slideshow.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Idaho Sportsman Lodge on YouTube!

I have a created a promotional video for the Idaho Sportsman Lodge. I sent a copy of this video on DVD to play in the Chatterbox. The response has been good. Please leave comments if you like.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Welcome to the Idaho Sportsman Lodge

"Your Place To Stay For Idaho Play!"

Located just a stones throw away from the South fork of the Clearwater River in majestic Stites, Idaho the brand new Idaho Sportsman Lodge is the destination for all your outdoor adventures.

Our one of a kind structure is nestled in the heart of the peaceful town of Stites with many great attractions, events and landmarks located nearby.

Whether your here for the great fishing, hunting, rafting or sight seeing you won't be disappointed with the beauty of the Clearwater Valley or the authentic Idaho Sportsman lodge.

We offer 4 spacious units for nightly and weekly accommodations. Each fully furnished unit is over 800 square feet and sleeps up to 8 people. You will enjoy vaulted ceilings in the living room, a full kitchen, large bedroom and bath downstairs, plus a magnificent loft with several beds and a bathroom upstairs.

The Idaho Sportsman Lodge is perfect for a 1 to 2 person getaway or the larger group of anglers and sportsmen seeking real Idaho adventure.