• Steve Russo

The Place to Stay

Book a room at Sandpoint’s newest—newly remodeled—hotel By Jillian Chandler

Photo courtesy of Brad Frerkson

You may have noticed some changes taking place in recent months, after the former Holiday Inn Express & Suites was purchased by Warren Resort Hotels in December of 2018. Over the past year, the company has renovated the hotel, and along with the updates, it’s taken a new name—Best Western Plus - Ponderay Mountain Lodge.

January 1, 2020, marked not only a new year, but a new beginning for the upscale hotel. The newly renovated space offers more than just accommodations for a good night’s sleep; they offer 1,200 square feet of meeting space, a pool and hot tub, workout facility, sundry shop and business center. Those staying at the lodge will be treated to a delicious assortment of breakfast items including the all new “build your own” options. They now have a “build your own oatmeal, pancake, yogurt and sandwich” with plenty of miscellaneous condiments to put on them.

“Best Western Plus is not only the newest hotel in town, we are newly renovated and conveniently located right next door to Sweet Lou’s restaurant, the local favorite sports bar,” says Marie Stewart, general manager.

Marie says she first fell in love with the hospitality industry after being hired for her first “real” job in Sun Valley, Idaho, as a hotel housekeeper at 14 years old. “I was a very shy young lady, and I eventually came out of my shell and learned to love people,” she says. “I transferred to many different positions over the years, including everything from working in the small gift shops and chocolate factory to the grocery store business and eventually went back to hotels.”

When her youngest child graduated high school, Marie’s experience in the hotel industry allowed her the opportunity to travel to different hotels, where she would take care of these hotels while they were between managers. After seeing her wonderful work ethic and strong managerial skills, she was hired on as a general manager at a hotel in Kanab, Utah, where she worked for nearly five years. During this time, an opportunity arose for her to move to North Idaho and manage the Holiday Inn Express & Suites - Sandpoint North (now Best Western Plus - Ponderay Mountain Lodge) in Ponderay. So, in 2013, she relocated to North Idaho.

“This is honestly the best move I have ever made! I came up here six years ago to manage this hotel and fell in love with the area!” she smiles. “I love living in Sandpoint. I love managing the Best Western Plus - Ponderay Mountain Lodge. I love the people that work for me, and I love all our wonderful guests!”

Marie says what really sets apart Best Western Plus - Ponderay Mountain Lodge is their incredible, professional yet friendly staff, which includes her assistant manager, Kathy Scott, whom Marie refers to as being her “right hand.”

When it comes to what Marie finds most rewarding about her line of work in the hospitality businesses, she says, “I love visiting with our guests and having them tell me what a wonderful staff we have and how much they love our hotel, as well as finding out about their background and the interesting stories of what brought them to Sandpoint.”

If you are looking to impress out-of-town guests with great accommodations, look no further than Ponderay Mountain Lodge. Even for those who live in the area, the hotel makes for a great staycation. Located less than a mile from Downtown Ponderay and just 2.6 miles from Downtown Sandpoint, what better way to spend a relaxing weekend than in a beautiful hotel where you don’t have to make the beds or breakfast; you can enjoy a swim in the pool or a dip in the hot tub; eat right next door at Sweet Lou’s; get a great workout session in; yet still be close to home in case you still have those errands to run.

Marie and her staff invite you to call today to book a stay at Best Western Plus - Ponderay Mountain Lodge, where they ensure you a wonderful stay.


Best Western Plus - Ponderay Mountain Lodge 477326 Highway 95 Ponderay, Idaho 83852 208.255.4500

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