Although the vibe is more casual than the Ritz-Carleton, the note on the door with a phone number to “call when you arrive or if you need anything” says it all.
The South Arm Retreats (SAR) is a seven-room motel owned by Jill Hegedus. It is located in the heart of many regional tourist destinations such as Charlevoix, Boyne City, Boyne Falls, Petoskey, and Lake Michigan.
Hegedus understands the hospitality industry from both sides of the desk. For the previous ten years, she worked her way through positions in housekeeping, operations, and management in three different lodging venues in Michigan.
In 2012, the SAR was on her route to and from work and while it was in severe disrepair, she saw potential due to its prime location with access to Lake Charlevoix and East Jordan Tourist Park beach. She purchased the motel although her family and close friends questioned her decision; it had been closed for three years and as Hegedus says, “It needed a lot of love.”
The next step was an extensive renovation and for that, Hegedus needed a loan. Her project didn’t meet traditional lending criteria and for the first time, she felt she might have made a mistake. However, the Northern Lakes Economic Alliance connected her with Northern Initiatives and a lending officer confirmed Hegedus’ instincts. Northern Initiatives provided financing for improvements and working capital and Hegedus rolled up her sleeves. She kept “nothing but the alarm clocks,” and still opened her doors in time for the snowmobile season.
Hegedus took advantage of the Business Services offered through Northern Initiatives to create a new engaging website and Facebook page. She received training through Northern Initiatives in finance and accounting and visits the educational portals as often as possible to hone her business skills.
Although it is a busy life, she takes pride in knowing she resurrected a well-loved vacation spot.