BY CHUCK VANDENBERG –
FORT MADISON – The third year in Fort Madison will be a big…or even bigger year for Boulder’s Inn & Suites in Fort Madison.
The specialty hotel located on Fort Madison’s west side, which popped up in September of 2014 is now planning on almost doubling its size this summer.
Construction crews, now at the mercy of winter weather, have already begun grading and preparing the ground for the expansion that General Manager Julie Hellman hopes to have completed by mid June.
“We hope to have that open in the middle of June or as soon as we can, but our progress is dictated by the weather. Right now they’re getting the ground ready to pour concrete,” Hellman said.
Crews were working the past two weeks surveying the ground and leveling for the new add-on, which will feature a large community meeting room and other improvements. Company officials said the project will be about 20,000 square feet adding up to 40 total rooms and additional parking.
“We’re gonna have an enlarged workout area and enlarged lobby with a better breakfast area and we’ll be adding suites, and also a jacuzzi suite which we didn’t have before,” she said. “We’re very excited and can’t wait to get out on the Internet and start letting people know about our new facility.”
The expansion will connect to the back north facing of the building and will go straight back to the north. Hellman said the new structure will be two stories and will end close to even with the current Eagles building. Plans also include an expanded parking lot with electrical hookups for boaters who come to the area to take advantage of the Mississippi River and the national fishing contests that come to the area such as Cabela’s King Kat Tournament Trail, which will be making a stop in Fort Madison in August.
Hellman said the additional parking will make it much easier for semi-trailers and boat trailers to get in and out of the facility. She also said the company and contractors, who built the facility were very smart in making the building very adaptable on the north side.
“They built it in a such a way that all the connections are in place to join the structures. They were very smart that way.”
She said the addition is a win for the company and for the community.
“We’re gonna be just about doubling our staff. We’ll need people working in the meeting space which will be available for the community. We’ll also have double the rooms which have been running full,” she said. “This is good for the economy and good for the area.”
Fort Madison Partners Executive Director Tim Gobble said the expansion is good for the city and for tourism efforts.
“It’s great for the economy and will build tourism dollars and that obviously helps our tourism.”
The Boulders franchise is also opening its first hotel outside the state of Iowa in Maryville, Missouri this year.
Hellman said in the short two years the Fort Madison hotel has been open it has seen sustained business and strong growth. Social media and the Nauvoo Mormon festivals have also been good for business.
“We opened up in 2014 just a few days before the (Tri-State) rodeo with 40 rooms. The fertilizer plant was going gang busters and we were just full out of the gate. Got our name out there with nationwide travel groups and our base has been very good.”
“We realized that very first summer what happened at Nauvoo every year. We had a guest who rated us as “Mormon clean” and that post went crazy and we’ve been hearing of people pulling off the interstate to come and stay here. That was one of the best things that could have happened for us.”
The hotel is located at 4901 Avenue O and can be reached by calling 319-246-1401.