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Rejuvenated hotel enjoying increased popularity.

"If you want something, you zero in on it..."

Elva Evans, proprietor of the Airport Hotel in South Porcupine, is a woman who sets her mind on a goal and makes it a reality.

Evans's story has been a one of many successful endeavors, and it is now the story of the old hotel she is rejuvenating.

The philosophy that fuels her energy is that, "If you want something ... you zero in on it, and you work for it. You get off your tush and do something about it."

For example, one year ago the hotel kitchen was old, crowded and dominated by an archaic, temperamental stove. Evans was determined that this would change.

Now her new chef, Marten Pol, works in a model kitchen. It has been completely rebuilt, from floor to ceiling.

In the process the former women's washroom was sacrificed to enlarge the kitchen. However, the new washroom and powder room, with its floral furniture, would be the envy of any five-star hotel.

The Airport Hotel is a blend of business and home. What belongs to the owner is shared with the clients. Diners eat off of Evans's china and silverware, and her furnishings add a romantic touch to everything, from windows to corners.

Evans objective is to conquer the drab, while preserving the hotel's historic presence.

The enthusiastic entrepreneur has worked in many fields and has established several successful businesses. These include a beauty salon, a cosmetic business and an office overflow business. She discovered the Airport Hotel while looking for a place to dine on behalf of her investment group, the Porcupine Syndicate. It was love at first sight.

An elderly couple, Bill and Dominica Moskol, were the hotel's proprietors at the time. They had owned the building since 1942.

While Evans owned a home, a cottage and a business, she realized she could have three-in-one in the water-side hotel.

There were, however, obstacles to overcome.

Evans lacked the cash to purchase the business outright, and the banks were not willing to back her because the building sits on a designated floodplain. She was finally able to arrange a $125,000 bridge loan to get the ball rolling until she could sell off some of her assets.

The owners offered to hold the mortgage on the building, and on Sept. 1 1989 Evans started the first phase of her dream.

"Once people could see we were retaining what was there and not remodelling, we go so much support," she recalls.

Men, women and children pitched in, mending fences, steps and everything else that needed it. The father of a former business partner set about turning the gardens into a northern oasis. Rooms were cleaned out, and the number of room rentals increased.

Two years later, the hotel's 11 rooms "are full all the time, and I have a waiting list," says Evans.

The rooms, some of which do not have their own bathrooms - "it's an old lodge atmosphere" - start at $55 per week.

The dining room, which can accommodate 26 people, was opened on a gradual basis, starting with meals only twice a week at first. It is currently open for lunch and supper Tuesdays through Saturdays. The boardroom and the living room can also be utilized for wedding parties and other larger functions.

The hotel is becoming a popular spot for weddings, birthday parties, anniversary celebrations, special-occasion fetes and pre-wedding dinners.

As well, there is a downstairs bar which is open every day except Monday and features such pub food as hamburgers, chips, cabbage rolls and perogies.

The hotel's income doubled in 1990 from the first year Evans took over, and she estimates that it has increased another 25 per cent this year.

Evans gives all of the credit for the success to her supportive friends and capable employees.

"This place is just coming to life. It was just getting ready to burst forth," she says enthusiastically, adding that if the former owners had not been in their mid-80s, she knows they would have done as well.
COPYRIGHT 1991 Laurentian Business Publishing, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Report on Timmins
Author:Smith, Marjie
Publication:Northern Ontario Business
Date:Oct 1, 1991
Previous Article:Engineering firm learned from the '82 recession.
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