(Pictured are Marc and Mercedes Steffes & family)
Once labeled “the hub of society,” The Inn at Okoboji opened for business in 1896 and entertained guests in the lake-town destination for over 120 years, leaving a lasting impact on locals and tourists alike. When the historic hotel was closed and demolished in 2018, it seemed that the extravagant balls, concerts and family gatherings that took place there would live on only through memories and photographs.
With the classic hotel gone, Marc and Mercedes Steffes envisioned a new hotel that would pay homage to the historic inn and recapture “classic Okoboji.” A place that serves locals as much as it serves vacationers.
“We want to create a place that is almost like a social club where people don’t need to be staying at the hotel to come enjoy the grounds, amenities and events,” Mercedes said.
Less than one year after the demolition of The Inn at Okoboji, Steffes Companies, Marc’s general contracting company, broke ground on their new hotel near the Arnold’s Park amusement park, which will be called The Inn Hotel. The hotel is set to begin receiving guests in May.
A balance of vintage and modern
The design of the 38-room, boutique-style hotel will reflect 1920s and ’30s Art Deco with two-tone marble checkerboard floors, brass fixtures and potted plants, taking visitors back to the “Golden Age of Lake Okoboji.”
“The human need for pleasure and escape was best reflected in the 1920s and ’30s when people flocked to lake towns to relax and get away from the hustle and bustle of the big city,” Mercedes said.
While The Inn Hotel will share a lot of the same architectural details of The Inn at Okoboji, including the recurring arches in the front, Mercedes is envisioning a good balance of modern and vintage.
The hotel’s restaurant, the Beach Club Lounge will feature a full bar with cocktails and a food menu inspired by vintage Havana, Cuba. The hotel will also feature a 1,200-square-foot conference room and an outdoor heated pool with oversized, fringed umbrellas.
A natural next step
Since Marc and Mercedes moved back to the area in 2012 from Arizona, Steffes Companies has been very active in the “Restore the Park” campaign, helping to restore major parts of Arnold’s Park and has rebuilt the historic Roof Garden ballroom, which is set to open around June.
Since moving back to Iowa, Mercedes has opened two stores in Arnold’s Park including a frozen yogurt shop that is still open for business.
“We have really close ties with the ‘Restore the Park’ efforts and with the business community in Arnold’s Park,” Mercedes said. “We just really thought that there should be some more lodging to support the new Roof Garden and the renovated pavilion. We felt that this was the natural next step for us because we’re located only a block away.”
When Marc and Mercedes first started their business ventures years ago in Arnold’s Park and needed financing and business resources, they looked no further than the personal, small-town feel of Northwest Bank.
“They’re approachable, very understanding, and they want what’s best for the community,” Mercedes said. “When they see other people that want to make a difference in their community, they make it work any way they can.”
Continuing a working relationship with their bank
This time around, it was a natural fit to continue working with Northwest Bank and, with the help of Brad Jungers, a loan officer at the branch in Arnold’s Park, Marc and Mercedes were able to acquire their initial construction loan to build the hotel. They are currently working together for a permanent mortgage loan.
Marc and Mercedes use the new Business Online Banking feature on a regular basis and plan to keep using it to manage the hotel finances in the future. They appreciate that with Business Online Banking, they can save time and streamline their cash management procedures for The Inn Hotel in a fully secure environment.
Additionally, Business Banking Online has a number of features That Marc and Mercedes will be using to help manage The Inn Hotel, such as direct deposit of payroll, ACH origination, real-time fund transfers between accounts and bill pay services.
When Marc and Mercedes have a question and need a real-life answer, Brad and the staff at Northwest Bank are there to help.
“As entrepreneurs, we believe that the relationship with our bank is vital to the success of our business,” Marc said. “Northwest Bank has proven this to be true, and we appreciate their continued support.”
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