Wanting to do this up right, we began researching the history of the Rugged Country Lodge, its history as a business and its place in Pendleton as a hospitality business. In the 50's, when the building was erected, it was known as the Pioneer Motel, and later as the Budget Inn. As of the late nineties, the building was badly run down, and even worse run, soon to be repossessed. After holding on to the distressed motel for a while, the Pendleton Community Bank eventually gave the property to the current owners, who then set about transforming it into what is now known as the Rugged Country. Their vision was to create a "Motel that thinks like a bed & breakfast" with a combination of B&B style amenities and attitude and motel prices and rooms.
After discussing it a bit with Mike, we decided to contact the Community Bank, the very same that owned the property until 2003, and ask about the likelihood of financing. I spoke with an extremely friendly woman there named (Ironically,) Kris, and after a few conversations during which we described ourselves and our vision for the motel, she was very positive about our chances of securing financing. We were extremely up front with her, letting her know that we had virtually nothing but our experience and enthusiasm to offer, but she still seemed quite confident. She did request a full business plan, something we could bring to show the financial aid people that she was pulling in to help. We thought this was a great idea. We'd already done pretty elaborate plans for our own benefit before, but never in a formal capacity, and while we didn't have a lot of time, we were excited about the idea of our plans out on paper for the financial people to see, but to also use as a guide for ourselves.
The first thing we did was evaluate the business, and where it sat in the food chain in Pendleton. Pendleton is an interesting town, essentially a dusty valley in the middle of nowhere, with a freeway cutting through it. However, it does have a lot of interesting benefits too. There is a prison there, which, while some may consider a real negative, motels see a pretty steady stream of visitors from it. There's also an Indian casino just out of town, a few tourist style attractions, and the yearly Round-Up Rodeo, a huge rompin' stompin' blowout, that fills the city to 3 times the capacity every year for a week. It also seems to be just the right amount of distance from a lot of bigger cities to be a great place to stop for the night. For a city of 16,000, they have a lot of lodging establishments, close to 20, and that's discounting the RV parks, campgrounds, and the fact that during Round-Up, people rent vacant lots, parking lots, schoolyards, and the legit hotels raise prices up to 150%. The Rugged Country sat at a pretty good place, just below the bigger chains, but more respected than any of the seedier motels in the city.
Naturally, we didn't want to walk into something that was perfect, and there were some definite places to improve. While the B&B shtick was great, and some of it seemed genuine and lovely, some of the aspects of it were a little over the top to the point of being almost creepy, primarily the large amounts of rambling personal accounts from the owner, and the odd Country Chic signs in the hallways. We also disliked the clip art style logo of a cowboy on a horse in the air in front of some trees in front of a mountain. Personally, I thought it looked too busy, and from a distance was really hard to identify. We also needed to find a way to make some money when there wasn't a huge rodeo in town.