Vol. 4 | Fall 2019

And, oh man, have they done it. In order to recalibrate their clientele, they immediately decided to increase their rates. Not by a lot, mind you. Just enough to redirect the flow of folks who’d be interested in staying at the Lamplighter. “There are other extended and very low cost options for people in Helena and we were happy to refer our former clientele to them. We wanted to offer affordable and reasonable rates but not so low that it invited troublesome activity on the premises.” Sue acknowledges that an increase in rate is only fair if there is also an upgrade in the quality and condition of the rooms and guest experience. “I had to walk into every room and feel like I would be happy to pay the rate myself. It needed to feel special, cozy, and welcoming. I wasn’t willing to charge guests the increased rate until we’d worked our tails off to get it up to our standards.” After extensively cleaning, remodeling and repairing every issue they came across, room by room and cabin by cabin, a newer, sunnier, more Helena- esque version of the Lamplighter emerged. Today, each of the six cabins is decorated with a particular theme in mind, anchoring them strongly to the Helena, Montana way of life. The bike cabin is a sporty celebration of Helena’s love of mountain biking. The movie cabin pays tribute to Helena greats Myrna Loy and Gary Cooper. The cabin called Hunter’s Haven has a country charm and is dedicated to all those avid sportsfolk who enjoy Montana’s outdoors. The Helena Hideaway is a playful take on all things Helena. The Pine Cabin is a true cabin experience with gorgeous pine walls that feel like a woodsy adventure and allow the imagination to whisk guests away, even though they’re still right here in town. And, lastly, the Cowboy Corner Cabin has great little touches of the Wild West throughout. In addition to the cabins, there are nine suites with full kitchens. Each and every one has the same warm, welcoming, small-town inn vibe. In the coming months, Sue, along with her best friend and interior designer Barbra Burleigh, will continue to work tirelessly, side by side to improve the look and feel of rooms even more. Many will receive new paint and flooring, the finishing touches on a project they’ve been pouring themselves into since day one. To top it all off, CWG Architects—local professionals known for their ability and expertise in portraying the essence of Helena through architecture—are going to work their magic on the

exterior. When Sue describes these final steps, it’s with a huge grin on her face and a twinkle in her eye. And, just when I think I’ve got all I need in order to tell this story and tell it well, Sue shows me something that illustrates the entire piece. After all, actions speak louder than words. “When our manager Maria Caputo accepted the position, we completely gutted and remodeled the main building on the property in order to make a beautiful home for her. We wanted her to know how much we appreciate her and value her support and hard work. We trust her implicitly and really wouldn’t have wanted to do this without her.” In the following moments, as Sue is showing me around, I am astounded. The place is gorgeous. Modern and comfortable. It’s a space where form meets function and sunlight pours in through the windows. Maria’s dogs, Teddy and Chica, are there to greet us and their bond with Sue is clearly strong. Downstairs, I have the chance to meet Sue and Dan’s most trusted handy-man. Their back and forth banter shows a great relationship there as well. And, that’s when I really get it; the Lamplighter is not just any other hotel. It’s not about flashy corporate luxury or raking in the dough. It’s about one family working hard to support themselves and serve others in every way they possibly can. It’s about true hospitality and heart. It’s about improving a neighborhood and consistently rewarding a dedicated and deserving team of like-minded people. It’s about finding light where there was once darkness and shining it out into the community. n

Sketch and concept by CWG Architects

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