News & Features

Businesses Reopen Along With Glacier

After months of uncertainty, hospitality businesses feel relief with the park’s reopening in early June

Ever since Glacier National Park’s closure in March, businesses within and outside of its boundaries have sat on pins and needles, waiting for the governor and park superintendent to set a reopening date.

“We’ve been preparing for being able to open at any moment,” Holly DuMay, the director of sales and marketing at Izaak Walton Inn and Eddie’s Café and Mercantile. “We knew we weren’t going to have a lengthy notice.”

Once the park finally reopened on June 8, Eddie’s Café and Mercantile was ready to go, opening just a few weeks after its normal date of Memorial Day Weekend.

“It’s a huge relief that we’re opening as soon as we are,” DuMay said.

Eddie’s, which is operating with coronavirus precautions such as plastic screens and spaced-out tables, received a facelift this winter, with a completely remodeled restaurant, a full-service bar and to-go cocktails.

“You can take a cocktail to-go and just sit on the beach at Lake McDonald,” DuMay said.

Additionally, the Izaak Walton Inn in Essex reopened over Memorial Day Weekend, one of the few lodging facilities open near the park.

While Xanterra-operated Cedar Creek Lodge outside of the park is open, Lake McDonald Lodge and Village Inn at Apgar were scheduled to open June 15. Rising Sun Motor Inn and Cabins is targeted for reopening once the Going-to-the-Sun Road is open, and Many Glacier Hotel and Swiftcurrent Motor Inn and Cabins are targeted to reopen on July 1, according to Xanterra.

The Izaak Walton Inn has seen a deep revenue loss with wedding cancellations this season. While the inn still has a few weddings scheduled for this summer and fall, DuMay anticipates a busy season next summer since most have been postponed until 2021.

“We normally have a wedding every weekend,” DuMay said. “It’s definitely been reduced due to COVID. We’ve been really fortunate that a lot of our guests have chosen to change their dates to later in the season when things have become more clear.”

While business is picking up at the inn now that the park has reopened, DuMay says the inn has cut about 25% of staff for the season, many of whom who were foreign students and unable to travel due to the pandemic.

The annual Montana Hope Project, an organization that grants wishes for children living with critical illnesses, was also canceled this year. Normally scheduled for the first weekend in June, the inn hosts the children and their families at no cost while they enjoy rafting, horseback riding and rides with the Montana Highway Patrol.

“Unfortunately, those children are very susceptible (to COVID-19),” DuMay said.

But even with cancellations and an uncertain tourist season, DuMay is thankful the park reopened before the summer rush, and she’s hopeful that business will pick up.

“It’s anybody’s guess,” she said. “We’re hopeful, and I see around the valley there’s a lot of people who are just really wanting to get outdoors. There’s a little cabin fever everywhere.”

For more information, visit www.izaakwaltoninn.com and www.eddiescafegifts.com.

maggie@flatheadbeacon.com

If you enjoy stories like this one, please consider joining the Flathead Beacon Editor’s Club. For as little as $5 per month, Editor’s Club members support independent local journalism and earn a pipeline to Beacon journalists. Members also gain access to www.beaconeditorsclub.com, where they will find exclusive content like deep dives into our biggest stories and a behind-the-scenes look at our newsroom.