BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – Area officials and dignitaries toured the newly opened Boulders Inn & Suites expansion project on Wednesday night.
With one of the Boulders founders, Tim Stuart, on hand, the visitors toured the rich brown and cream decorated rooms and were also treated to some cocktails and hors d’oeuvres in the hotel’s new reception and meeting area.
Stuart said the hotel has been very busy since the expansion opened in July and the first couple years at the hotel were busy enough to warrant the expansion, although the addition was planned from the beginning.
“We talked about potential expansion when we built the original 40-room property, so we built on the site to allow us to expand,” Stuart said. “When the business was as good as it was the first couple years, it justified us looking more seriously at the expansion project. It took some twists and turns, the meeting room was added, and we’ve been busy since we opened this area.”
Stuart thanked the city for their partnership in enabling the project to move forward.
“We couldn’t be happier with the relationship we’ve had with the city,” Stuart said. “From Mayor Brad Randolph and City Administrator (David) Varley on down to the staff. They’ve just been great to work with.”
Randolph was on hand to help cut the ribbon on the new expansion and walked through looking at the new rooms and meeting areas.
“We’ve been talking about Fort Madison needing hotel rooms for a long time There was always that concern that if you built it we wouldn’t have the traffic or volume so people were afraid to take a chance on building here,” Randolph said. “The city couldn’t be more pleased that Boulders took a chance on Fort Madison and created a big investment opportunity and sunk some money into the local economy. With a little encouragement they realized they could double the property and see that success again and we couldn’t be more pleased with that.”
Randolph said the expansion helps the city specific to the hotel and motel tax which has so many benefits and helps capture the people that want to come to Fort Madison.
The city incentivized the expansion at $500,000, $250,000 of which is property tax rebates over the next six years. The city also gave $400,000 in incentives on the initial property.
Kathy Fish, general manager of the property, has been with the property since it opened three years ago, and has been the general manager since April 1, when Julie Hellman was promoted to regional manager.
“It’s been an exciting journey so far getting to tonight and we appreciate everyone’s support. I have a great group of people who work with me and for me and without them we wouldn’t be here,” she said.
The 20,000-square foot facility added 40 rooms including an exercise room and a new breakfast serving area. It also has a large reception area that can be used for larger events like wedding receptions. The room has two built-in separator walls that can convert the space into two meeting rooms.
The rooms are also fully computer integrated for presentations.
“It’s technically savvy, probably much more than I am,” Stuart said.
Outside on the east patio, is an inviting gas fireplace with comfort seating as well as patio furnishings and a gas grill for entertaining outside.