A pledge to be a good steward of Holland Lake Lodge
A view of Holland Lake in the Swan Valley of Northwest Montana. (Laura Verhaeghe photo)
| September 29, 2022 12:00 AM
Holland Lake is a special place; to its current owner, to its neighbors and guests, and to me and the business I represent. Growing up in Central Oregon taught me to love the outdoors. My parents would take us kids hiking and backpacking nearly every weekend. They taught us about the land, the forest, and the mountains. I became obsessed with stewardship, conservation, and wildlife, always leaving the trails I hiked, and campsites where we slept, in pristine condition before we left.
This love of the outdoors has largely guided my life and career, moving from a Silicon Valley job to Utah to pursue a career in the outdoor industry where values and culture matter. I feel fortunate to have found a home at POWDR, whose mission is to ensure that future generations are able to have similar experiences as I had as a kid and that I now share with my two sons.
POWDR is a family-owned adventure lifestyle company with outdoor recreation properties across the country. The company was founded in 1994 to provide everyone with the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors. Those core values remain at the forefront of the company today. It is part of the company ethos to ensure that future generations enjoy the good fortune to experience our outdoors as we do - with healthy ecosystems and clean air and water. The people who work at POWDR come from all parts of the country and are of all different backgrounds, but we all share one thing- a love of the outdoors and a desire to transact responsibly. This shared purpose drives our hospitality and touches all our business decisions. Being family owned facilitates it.
I’m excited about the future of Holland Lake Lodge. For 98 years, this lodge has provided residents and visitors a unique peek into one of Montana’s gems: Holland Lake and the gateway to “the Bob.” In addition to being a scenic local vacation spot, it’s been the backdrop to weddings and celebrations for Montanans and an essential part of the local economy. Unsurprisingly, residents and patrons of Holland Lake and the surrounding area are worried about what the future holds for the 15 acres where the lodge sits. I hope my words here can help clarify that future.
I’ve had the honor of getting to know Christian Wohlfeil, Holland Lake Lodge’s current owner, over the past couple of years. It’s obvious that he cares deeply for this area as he has spent the past 22 years of his life taking care of the lodge and its visitors. As the years have passed, he has understood that much of the infrastructure, some of it dating back to 1947, is in serious need of upgrades. He also is not willing to sell his legacy simply to the highest bidder. Legacy and preservation were as important to him as any financial consideration. Because Christian wanted to ensure that necessary updates would be made and that the lodge would continue to prosper as a place for locals and visitors alike, he selected POWDR to continue his vision in a newer and more sustainable Holland Lake Lodge.
As proposed, the Master Development Plan (“MDP”) will restore the proper foundation and infrastructure to the property. Planned upgrades for the wastewater and sewage systems, non-motorized boat docks and employee housing will enhance the guest experience while ensuring the least possible environmental impact. The current proposed updates to the infrastructure will be more sustainable for the lake as they are designed with conservation and environmental protection.
While plan to increase occupancy by adding a new lodge, new cabins, and smaller studio cabins, the mix of room types will allow for nightly rates that will be accessible to many visitors, thus maximizing inclusivity. The current plan also would winterize the buildings, making Holland Lake Lodge a year-round destination.
But the Master Development Plan is just that: a plan. It is not finalized or approved, and we welcome community suggestions as we continue to refine it.
As excited as we are about the new potential, perhaps it is more important to make clear what is NOT part of the plan and how we will be held accountable. We will NOT build a large hotel, housing developments, condos, or any ski hill or lifts. There are two reasons for that. First, it would not be conducive to business because the allure of this special lodge is its intimate nature and pristine surroundings. We are committed to continuing its legacy as Christian, and past owners, would want. Second, current permits would not allow us to do anything that would change the scale of impact on the environment.
As POWDR’s CEO, an avid outdoorsman, and a father of two young boys who love to spend weekends under the dark night sky, our goal is to preserve the fabric of Holland Lake Lodge; ensuring we sustainably maintain access for Montanans and visitors. We know this place is special to you. It is to us as well, and we vow to be good stewards of it for generations to come.
Please visit www.HollandLakeFuture.com for more facts and information on our plans.
Justin Sibley is CEO of POWDR, a Utah-based company that has proposed to expand Holland Lake Lodge.