Hotel Impossible: Melchiorri meets bears, fish guts in Alaska

Paula Duffy's picture

Anthony Melchiorri went north to Alaska to try and save the Glacier Bear Lodge. He learned how it felt to be hunted, with bears roaming the property on Travel Channel's Hotel Impossible.

The Travel Channel's Hotel Impossible left the lower 48 and plopped the nicely dressed Anthony Melchiorri into the wilderness of Yakutat, Alaska.

A bit more than 600 people inhabit miles of countryside where fishing and hunting are the main attractions for visitors.

The problem with the Glacier Bear Lodge was that it wasn't attracting new guests. How could it when the hotel didn't have an online booking feature AND it wasn't part of any Internet based travel service?

The answer to why was the same for all questions asked by Melchiorri of the four owners and the general manager: It's expensive. "So is losing three-quarters of a million dollars," countered Anthony.

That is how much was at stake for the owners.

The appalling conditions of the property and the hotel made him exclaim, "This is by far the worst bathroom I've ever been in. You really can't get lower than this. What's lower than this? A tree...go pee on the tree."

Bathroom amenities? "Whoever thought of a three-inch nail for a bathroom hook? It's one or two steps up from sleeping in the woods." Ouch!

Only two of the four owners (Rick and Mark) spent any significant time attending to the business, while the others used it as a pre-paid fishing/hunting vacation from time to time.

"You should go outside and put up a sign that says, 'Closed except for my friends,' " Melchiorri told the four clueless investors.

When HGTV designer Casey Nobel saw the rooms and their condition she feared touching or smelling a thing Anthony pointed to.

Melchiorri had to experience the outdoor life that guests come for and he learned that after fishing and hunting all day, guests had nowhere to store their smelly gear and clothes.

No wonder the rooms were so awful and that bears approach the lodge due to the lure of the fish fragrance. There was the urban Melchiorri pointing to a bear no more than twenty feet from the building. This is Sarah Palin country folks.

Leaks in the roof had rotted floors and ceilings and the building was in danger of collapsing. The explanation was always budget related.

Finding ways to cut other expenses and start a reserve fund for projects was key, as was the addition of a new website and a relationship with Liberty Travel.

A full-time maintenance employee was to be added and was expected to be very busy.

Glacier Bear Lodge was ready not just to survive, but to thrive.

Travel Channel's Hotel Impossible airs new episodes starring Anthony Melchiorri each Monday night starting at 10:00 p.m. ET. Image: Travel Channel

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