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Biz Buzz: New Marriott hotel opens in Island Park

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Marriott Springhill Suites hotel officially opened in Island Park Monday. | Courtesy Kirk Barker

Do you want to know what’s happening in the eastern Idaho business scene? We’ve got you covered. Here is a rundown of this week’s business news across the valley.

BIZ BRIEF

ISLAND PARK

New Marriott hotel in Island Park is not your typical guest experience, owners say

Interior of the new Marriott Hotel in Island Park | Courtesy Kirk Barker

ISLAND PARK – After three and a half years, Marriott SpringHill Suites Hotel in Island Park is officially open.

The 110-room hotel is on the bank of the Henrys Fork of the Snake River next to Mack’s Inn at 4292 U.S. Highway 20.

The grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony happened Monday, and Justin Hamilton, one of the owners, tells EastIdahoNews.com the first weekend is already sold out.

“The first week of being open in COVID season and to be completely sold out for a brand new property is pretty amazing,” Hamilton says.

The hotel is managed by Ensign Hospitality and Kirk Barker, another partner in the business, says it has a different look and feel than a typical Marriott location.

“The hotel is custom-built for Island Park…and enhances the scenic nature of the surrounding environment,” Barker says.

Hamilton says the appearance of the hotel resembles a lodge on the river.

“You walk into the lobby and there are three-story windows looking out at the river. It’s got a pool table and bar in the lobby.”

Other amenities include a restaurant in the front portion called The Parlor, which serves Farr’s Ice Cream and wood-fired artisan pizzas. There’s also a chocolate shop that sells Bluebird candy (the same Bluebird Candy based in Logan, Utah, which Hamilton also owns).

The hotel also includes a hot tub, swimming pool and a 200-seat conference room that will be used for business retreats and meetings.

RELATED | Developer hopes Island Park Marriott will become community hub

Opening a Marriott in Island Park is part of Hamilton’s vision to revitalize Mack’s Inn as a popular tourist destination. He opened a Cafe Sabor restaurant across the street from where the hotel now sits six years ago. Movement on the hotel project began two and a half years later.

“It was quite a process to get this hotel through planning and zoning. We went through six or seven meetings to get it approved with quite a few modifications just because a lot of people were concerned about having something outside of the norm come in,” Hamilton says.

Old-timers remember the day when Mack’s Inn was a social hub in Island Park.

People would gather for dinner, drinks and weekend dances. Visitors on their way to Yellowstone National Park would stop in, have lunch and spend summer days fishing and floating on the river.

“That’s why a lot of these lodges popped up — Pond’s Lodge, Phillip’s Lodge, Mack’s Inn. They became places where people throughout the United States would come and stay,” Hamilton says.

The A-frame lodge at Mack’s Inn was particularly popular. Near the end of the 1980s, the lodge caught fire and burned down. It was never rebuilt.

“The beauty and scenery on the river have always been there, and it’s been an untapped treasure (ever since),” says Hamilton.

The history, combined with the surrounding recreational opportunities, is the reason Hamilton says staying at the Marriott is so appealing for people.

“Although we are 20 minutes away from the entrance to the park…your evenings will be filled with paddle boats on the river, eating at great restaurants, going to a Playmill show, or going to a hot tub,” Hamilton says. “There’s so many things to do…in such a beautiful environment. There’s nothing that compares to that.”

To learn more or make a reservation, click here.

BIZ BITS

Local swimming pool reopens following COVID-19

POCATELLO – What’s proved to be a popular summertime activity at the Ross Park Aquatic Complex is returning. As of Monday, June 15, Lazy River Walking is now available Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. A second session will also be held on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7:15 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. During the sessions, walkers enter the river and then walk against the current, getting a workout. Admission is $3 per session. Season passes are available for purchase at $90 per person. Walkers must be 16-years-old or older and because of the COVID-19 pandemic, a maximum of 50 walkers will be allowed per time slot.

The Ross Park Aquatic Complex is back open seven days a week. The complex will be open Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, occupancy will be limited to 300 patrons. The waterslide remains closed. Click here for more information.

Expansion project at Idaho Falls airport gets underway

IDAHO FALLS – Construction begins this week on a $12 million expansion project at the Idaho Falls Regional Airport that will add an additional 38,000 square feet to the air terminal and a variety of new services and amenities. The project, funded entirely by the Federal Aviation Administration’s Aviation Improvement Program, is scheduled to be completed in 18 months. Click here for more information about the project.

Fall River Electric sees record-number of ballots cast during first-ever virtual meeting

ASHTON – Fall River Electric’s held its first-ever annual meeting virtually due to COVID-19 concerns. Owner-members cast their votes in-person, by mail or online to select representatives for three board positions. A record-setting number of ballots were cast this year totaling 2,427. That number represents nearly 20% of the total number of eligible voters. Incumbents Georg Behrens in District 3, East Victor, Jay Hanson from West Victor which is District 2 and Jeff Keay of District 8 in northern Island Park were all re-elected for new three-year terms beginning this month. Voters overwhelmingly approved several minor changes to the co-op’s bylaws but nearly split evenly on how board members should be elected in the future. Owner-members voted to retain the current plurality method of voting with 1,264 in favor. Votes to switch to the majority method totaled 1,087.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT…

Secretary of Energy making announcement Thursday as he tours INL

Local museum hosting free ‘fly-in’ show and breakfast Saturday morning

Garth Brooks performing 1 night only at 3 local drive-in theaters

From frozen pizza deliverer to YouTube stardom: Local man’s invention goes viral

If you have a Biz Buzz item you want to share, send it to rett@eastidahonews.com. Remember to use “Biz Buzz” in the subject line. Also, don’t forget to sign up for the free Biz Buzz email newsletter.

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