Hilton Hopes to Attract Conventions

By Beacon Staff

KALISPELL (AP) – A Hilton hotel scheduled to open here later this month has a conference center that can accommodate 700 people, which the owner and local promoters hope will draw more convention traffic to the Flathead Valley.

Bob Voelker, president of the Cleveland-based Gateway Hospitality Group, has Hilton hotels finished or in the works in Texas, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Michigan, Nevada and Arizona. He recently opened a Hilton Garden Inn in Missoula, is working on one in Billings and is considering one in Helena.

“I love Montana,” he said.

His $20 million, four-story Kalispell project includes 144 rooms with flat-screen TVs, air beds and the option of foam or feather pillows. The hotel also has a pool, lounge, casino, a business center and a conference room. Depending on the season and the discount, Voelker said rooms will range from $70 to $225 a night.

The hotel is scheduled to open June 25 and host its first conference guests the next day.

“We’ll be ready,” Voelker said. “The last few weeks are always a rush, but we’ll be ready.”

The restaurant and casino are scheduled to open July 15.

The entire facility will employ over 150 people, and many of those positions are filled, Voelker said.

Dori Muehlhof, the executive director of the Flathead Convention & Visitor Bureau, said groups interested in coming to Kalispell have had to look elsewhere because the city couldn’t accommodate groups of 500 people or more.

“The extra conference space at the Hilton is very, very appealing,” she said. “Kalispell is now a player for much bigger audiences, and that’s good for business.”