Our Town

Elizabeth Lake Lodge recognized

George and Rachel Freitag, owners of  Elizabeth Lake Lodge. - Sally MacDonald photo
George and Rachel Freitag, owners of Elizabeth Lake Lodge.
— image credit: Sally MacDonald photo

For the sixth year in a row, Cranbrook's Elizabeth Lake Lodge has won a coveted Trip-

Advisor Travellers' Choice Hotel Award.

The lodge, which sits beside Elizabeth Lake on Cranbrook's south-western edge, ranked as the ninth best hotel in Canada for Exceptional Service.

"We were absolutely thrilled to get it," said George Freitag, who owns the lodge with his wife Rachel.

It was joined in the top 10 by the likes of Trump International Hotel in Toronto and the Rosewood Hotel Georgia in Vancouver.

TripAdvisor is a travel website where hotel guests can rank their stay and write reviews of the accommodation. It contains reviews of about 10,000 Canadian properties.

Each year, TripAdvisor looks at the hotels ranked in the top 25 positions in five categories: luxury hotels, family hotels, resorts, best bargains, and exceptional service.

For three years, Elizabeth Lake Lodge was awarded in the bargain hotel category. However, a slight rate increase saw it priced out of that category. Since 2012, the Cranbrook hotel has won in the service category.

“It becomes tougher to win it every year, because now you get people booking just because of our reviews. So their expectations walking in are very high,” said George.

“For that reason, I’m thrilled that we got it for one more year, and it shows that we have been able to continue to up our game a little bit.”

Elizabeth Lake Lodge has 276 reviews on TripAdvisor. Of those, 250 ranked the lodge as excellent with 5 stars, 21 ranked it as very good with 4 stars, 4 ranked it as average with 3 stars, and only one of the 276 gave it a poor review with one star. None of the reviews failed to give the lodge any stars.

In the six categories, the lodge has five stars for five out of six: sleep quality, rooms, service, value and cleanliness. In the remaining category, location, it has four and a half stars.

Although the reviews from guests are overwhelmingly positive, George is humble about the ranking.

“I try and let people know that it’s not saying we are the absolute best property. These are properties that have exceeded expectations for what they have paid and what they have come for; these properties have delivered more than what they were expecting.”

George and Rachel purchased the former Ponderosa Motel in September 2004 and have since completely transformed the motel and mini golf into what it is today.

The original motel was demolished and the first phase of the lodge built in 2006 and early 2007 with a grand opening in June 2007. The second phase was completed in 2011.

Along the way the mini golf course was completely refurbished, and artist Cristine Macdonald, who works under the name CD Mac, has painted numerous murals on the walls of the lodge. Cristine continues to work every summer on adding to the art.

George has a hospitality background, working for the Pan Pacific and Ritz Carlton hotels in Vancouver, and later in a training position for Ritz Carlton worldwide.

He said his experience has crafted the service model at Elizabeth Lake Lodge.

“The whole check-in procedure in a five-diamond hotel is more than just checking in a guest. It’s figuring out exactly what would make their stay a little bit better and doing it. You can’t do that just in the time that they sign the registration card. So every guest who checks in, we escort them to the room and show it to them. The whole underlying reason we are doing that is we are trying to figure out what we can do to make their stay a little bit better. Usually we are able to do that one more thing.”

He acknowledged the lodge’s staff for helping make guests more comfortable.

“Even though it’s Rachel and I who do most of the check-ins, our housekeeping staff are a big part of doing those extra things for the guests. It’s often them who get us the review. On their own initiative, they take the time to find the extra thing the guest wants.

“Our staff is wonderful and you can’t do it unless everybody is making it happen.”

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