Almost two years ago, Kyle Enzler bought the Scandia Inn Motel. It started out as a hand-built motel in McCall in the ’70s. Though he liked the charm of the place, Enzler knew it was time for a remodel. So by mid-March the upgrade began.
COVID-19 reached Idaho shortly after the remodel started. Enzler decided that the remodel needed to make some major shifts from what they first planned. He wanted the Inn to be safer for guests and employees, and he wanted to keep the rooms as clean as possible.
“Real quickly we’re trying to just figure out how we can remain essential. And how we can protect our employees, and how we can protect our homeowners and how we can protect our guests at the motel,” he said. “It kind of took us down this whole rabbit hole of sanitation and disinfecting.”
UV-C light system
After plenty of research, Enzler figured a UV-C light disinfecting system would keep the rooms the cleanest. The UV-C system is used in some hospitals and has a high disinfectant rate.
The system costs $50,000, a steep purchase for a small mountain motel. But, because Enzler also owns a home building company where he could also use it, he was able to rationalize the investment.
“Every single stay and the next guest that is coming in, I know that room has been 99.99% disinfected down to a bacterial level,” he said.
Enzler’s original idea for the light was to sell his service to small businesses and have his employees do it so he wouldn’t have to lay anyone off.
“I want to be able to make sure all my people keep working,” he said. “So what can we do so that we’re essential and we can make enough to just keep going until things change or get better.”
Along with the UV-C investment, Enzler and team made several other COVID-safe adjustments.
The inn installed a new air filtration system, that filters the air in the rooms up to seven times in an hour. It also traps particles down to bacteria size.
“The air in each room is specific to that room. There’s no transfer of air between rooms,” Enzler said.
From there, they based the ideas for designs of the rooms around what was optimal for disinfection and sanitation.
Enzler opted for wood floors rather than carpet, white sheets that can be bleached after each stay, enclosed bed frames so nothing can get under the beds and standing showers rather than bathtubs.
He also added automatic sanitation stations outside every room and changed the door lock system to a mobile phone system. Everything is done electronically so there is no contact.
“When COVID hit, it started shaping every design decision that we made,” he said. “It gave us a different frame of reference of how do we sanitize this, how do we clean this… How can we create a better guest experience or a safer guest experience.”
Costs and growth
The remodel cost Enzler and the Inn somewhere between $75,000 and $100,000. That includes the $50,000 UV-C light.
Enzler says the inn has been booked and busy since reopening at the beginning of July. And their new Instagram page has already reached almost 4,000 followers. He thinks this positive feedback and growth is 50% because of the remodel and 50% because of the cleaning and safety precautions they have taken.