Izaak Walton Inn sold
Skiers head back to the Izaak Walton Inn in Essex last winter. (Mackenzie Reiss file photo/Daily Inter Lake)
Daily Inter Lake | December 16, 2022 12:00 AM
The iconic Izaak Walton Inn has changed hands, with owner Brian Kelly selling it to Loge Camps, a hotel brand marketed toward outdoors adventure clientele, after 16 years at its helm.
The historic mountain lodge in Essex sits on a 100-acre property that includes the hotel and standalone rental cabins as well as retrofitted historic cabooses, an homage to the site’s railroading history.
The hotel was listed in the spring and sold for $13.5 million, according to real estate agent Sean Averill, who brokered the deal.
Kelly said he decided to part with the hotel to spend more time with his family. Originally from Chicago, Kelly bought the property in 2006.
Gavin Burns, Loge Camps’ vice president for business development, said that the company has had their eyes on expanding into the area around Glacier National Park for a while. The company renovates existing hotels and motels near outdoor recreation areas, so the Izaak Walton fits well into their business model.
“[The area] offers incredible hiking, backcountry and cross country skiing and access to the park, so we were immediately drawn to it,” Burns said.
He also said that Loge Camps secured a permit from the Forest Service to continue operation of the network of cross country ski trails.
Loge Camps has immediately taken over hotel operations, and Burns said that all previously scheduled events will remain on the books. After the brand renovates the property, the firm will attach its branding.
When it comes to the hospitality company’s plans with the hotel, Burns said that while Loge Camps will update the rooms — and upgrade the cafe — most of the property will remain untouched.
“Our goals are not to tear things down, we’re not developers. We’re remodelers,” Burns said. “The property has so much character and great history.”
Kelly said that he stayed at one of Loge Camp’s other locations and was impressed.
“I’m confident that they’ll keep the Izaak tradition alive,” Kelly said. “Their goal is to carry the torch and respect the historical integrity of the operation.”
Kelly decided not to include Eddie’s Cafe in Apgar in the deal, and said that his family will continue to operate that. They also plan on constructing four luxury rental units nearby.
THE HOTEL OPENED in 1939, when the railroad built lodging for the workers tasked with keeping the mountainous section of track clear of snow and debris during winter.
According to the Hungry Horse News, the Alpine-style building was constructed when workers finally had enough of living in tents and boxcars through the frigid months and demanded a proper place to sleep.
In the summer, the lodge served as a hotel for guests arriving by rail. The railroad chose to name the lodge after Izaak Walton, 17th century British writer most famous for “The Compleat Angler,” an early book on fly fishing, perhaps due to the trout available in nearby streams.
Reporter Adrian Knowler can be reached at 758-4407 or email@example.com.