Visitors and residents of Grand Rapids will likely notice a new sign traveling through town on Highway 169. The local franchise Super 8 hotel, owned by Mike and Mary Ives, has changed into a new independently owned establishment now known as IM Hotel by Timberlake. Mary and General Manager Kris Ives explained how the change will help them keep up with and exceed customer expectations in the future.
Mike and Mary bought their first hotel in the Proctor/Duluth area in 1995. Living in Grand Rapids at the time, they wanted to bring their business closer to home. They purchased the Super 8 property in August of 2000 from the Krall family. The first general managers they hired were their son, Mike “Burl” Ives and his wife Kris. They have been in the family business ever since.
“Franchises like the Super 8 guaranteed customers a safe and affordable lodging,” Mary stated. “We signed a 20-year contract and did a very good job meeting and exceeding the franchise guidelines.”
Two years later, in 2002, the Ives family wanted to change the design of the Super 8 Hotel to match the aesthetics of northern Minnesota. This was difficult as they were a part of the Super 8 franchise, which typically prefers all locations to be uniform.
“That’s how we started to become the rebel Super 8,” said Mary.
Working with local Architect Mike Pollock, they were able to persuade the franchise to let them design a building featuring timber, stone, fishing, hunting and family fun. By 2004 the remodel was complete. Since then, Super 8 has received numerous national awards for customer service. Some of these actions were not always approved by the franchise.
“We used high-quality linens, we served a hot breakfast instead of plastic-wrapped rolls. We used and still use our local bakery for donuts and sweet rolls, but added waffles and biscuits and gravy, and more,” Mary explained.
Kris added, “We’ve always tried to exceed people’s expectations, especially with breakfast because that’s kind of a given expectation in the industry, especially as time has gone on.”
The Ives family expanded their hospitality business again in 2007 with the start of a new hotel directly behind the Super 8—The Timberlake Lodge and Hotel. Offering other amenities such as a large event space and swimming pool, the Ives were able to be a part of the design process as it was built. Guests of the Super 8 have been able to access these available cross-usable amenities, and this will continue for IM Hotel guests.
“But we still plan this to be an affordable property so we will take efforts to maintain that affordability,” Mary commented.
This August, the Ive’s 20-year contract with Super 8 was coming to a close. It was time to decide whether they would sign on again or go a new direction.
“Our franchise agreement ends next week,” Mary said. “Our family decided to follow the new trends but hold all the positives of our past history.”
Many changes have taken place at the property other than a new sign. The lobby bathroom is now handicap accessible, front doors are automatic, an elevator is being installed for guests to use to go up to the second floor and the food preparation space has been remodeled to allow for more breakfast options. Additionally, every room has new carpet, windows and window treatments, beds, furniture, artwork, bathrooms and other amenities. The IM Hotel will be a Wyndham property which means a new reservation system, door locks and a website that will be live next week. Furthermore, all materials and contractors have been sourced locally throughout the midwest in Minnesota, Wisconsin and North Dakota.
Many may be wondering where the “IM” in IM Hotel comes from. Kris explained the idea came as many hotels have followed the trend of having a short acronym for a name. For example, tru by Hilton. The “I” stands for “Ives,” the family name. The “M” stands for the family’s first names of Mike, Mary, Mike “Burl” and Michelle. Making sure the word “Hotel” was also in the title was crucial as well to make sure those driving by would know what type of business it is.
Looking ahead, Mary and Kris stated they will continue working to except customer expectations
“Anybody can hope going forward that we don’t see a downswing at all by choosing not to go franchise,” Kris commented. “We hope it's an upswing for people’s expectation of high quality since we just remodeled the whole entire building.”
IM Hotel by Timberlake will have an open house in late August. More details will be available at a later date.