From the Wallowa County Chieftain:
Residents of Wallowa County were pleased and relieved when a local couple, David and Susanna Hurley, stepped up to purchase the former Best Western above Enterprise. Abruptly closed in 2012, the motel sat vacant for more than 10 months, depriving the county of much-needed housing and motel tax revenues.
The Hurleys turned around their new investment with impressive speed, undertaking a whirlwind refurbishment of the 53-unit structure and welcoming the first guests back to the reopened motel on September 5, a scant three weeks after the purchase.
Owners of the Eagle Cap Chalets since March 2012, the couple wasn’t actively looking for another property when the motel became available, but they recognized it as a good opportunity and decided to take the plunge.
“We didn’t know just what to expect. The building was structurally sound, but delayed maintenance adds up,” said David Hurley. “The timing wasn’t the best because we already had a lot going on, but it made sense financially, and we both knew it was now or never.”
So the family, which includes six children ranging in age from five to 21 years old, embarked on a new adventure. They acquired the property from Lewis & Clark Bank of Oregon City, which gave priority to buyers already connected to Wallowa County when choosing among approximately a dozen interested bidders.
When asked why she thought the bank selected them, Susanna said she felt it was because their family was already invested in the community in a way someone outside of the area couldn’t have been.
“I think people from outside would likely have made it part of a chain, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but Wallowa County people care more about a nice place than a known name,” Susanna said. “We’re going to be more concerned that the building provides some service to the community; we care more since we live here and manage it directly.”
Prior to the sale, the bank replaced essential items that had been removed by previous owners, including hardware, doorknobs, furniture and air conditioners. David Hurley estimated that the boxes of replacement equipment filled the lobby three times over.
In addition to the reinstallation work, the Hurleys needed to immediately replace all the bedding in order to be able to receive guests. Susanna chose fabrics with personality and texture that would be more comfortable and less homogenous than standard motel fare.
When naming the new venture, the Hurleys wanted to tie it in to the Eagle Cap Chalets and also emphasize the view, thus, Eagle’s View Inn & Suites was born.
The family is splitting time between the two businesses during the transition phase, which the Hurleys acknowledge is a little chaotic, but gives them a better sense of the space.
“Right now we’re living here [at Eagle’s View] to get a feel for how everything runs and what needs to happen to make it a welcoming place,” said Susanna.
The Best Western motel had actually been for sale when the Hurleys instead bought the Eagle Cap Chalets, a turn-key operation in which the previous owners were able to give them training versus the learn-as-you-go project the larger motel would eventually be.
The original purchase of the Eagle Cap Chalets property in Joseph was part of a turning point for the family. After 14 years with the same firm, David had decided it was time to stop practicing accounting, selling his interest in Edison, Hurley & Company on January 1, 2012. But the family wanted to stay in Wallowa County, so they began searching for a way to make it happen, and the motel business turned out to be an excellent fit.
“I was tired of all the rapid, continuous changes of standards, rules, and laws in accounting, but we were committed to staying here if at all possible,” said David. “Our family loves to hike and camp, and I really believe that once everything is up and operational with trusted employees, we’ll have more time to enjoy Wallowa County together.”
The Hurley’s children have been very much involved in the process, with Matthew, 21, poised to take on the management of the 34-unit Eagle Cap Chalets and Rachel, 17, instrumental in making it possible to bring everything up to speed and run two motels simultaneously. Daughter Anna, 20, was key to operations during the first year at the chalets. She is now married and moved away. Sharon, 14, Andrew, 7, and Abigail, 5, share a strong sense of involvement and responsibility, with everyone pitching in as needed.
“Without their help, we couldn’t have made it through this last summer,” said David.
The motels are both open year-round. The chalets have a more rustic and nostalgic flair, catering to family holidays and reunions in the summer and pristine, getaway experiences in the winter, while the inn & suites offer more modern accommodations and a central location for doing business. Both locations are completely non-smoking.
From the Wallowa County Chieftain: