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By Andi Bourne
Pathfinder 

Preserving the Real Montana Experience at Tamaracks Resort

 

June 14, 2018

Juan de Santa Anna

The Tamaracks Resort past owners Sue and Jeff Heagy pose with new owners Jessica, Jeff and Kayden Kimmel. The Heagys' dream of keeping the resort in the family came true May 30.

SEELEY LAKE – "This is our Home Place, our sweet spot," said 15-year-old Kayden Kimmel whose parents Jessica and Jeff now own Tamaracks Resort, two miles north of Seeley Lake.

After managing the Tamaracks for the past four years, the Kimmels purchased it May 30 from Jeff's parents Sue and Jeff Heagy, owners for the past 27 years. They look forward to preserving the history, experience and relationships the Heagys have maintained for nearly three decades. They also look forward to adding to the services the resort offers.

Jeff moved to the Tamaracks Resort in the fall of 1991 at the age of 14 with his mother Sue and sister Angie. Sue said Jeff went from playing catch in a backyard park in Spokane, Wash. to cutting and splitting firewood the very next day.

"He couldn't wait to just dig into that. He was a real adventurous kind of kid and he just fit right in here better than he ever fit in Spokane," said Sue.

"I did most of my growing up worth talking about here. It's all my favorite memories here," said Jeff who graduated from Seeley-Swan High School in 1996.

The past 17 years, Jeff worked as a contractor for interior remodels. Jessica worked in the hospitality business as the event coordinator for the Hampton Inn & Suites while they lived in Williston, N.D.

Because they really wanted Kayden to grow up in Seeley Lake, the Kimmels moved back in the spring of 2014. They started managing the Tamaracks the fall of 2014 after Angie was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor and Sue became her primary caregiver.

"Jeff and Jessica came along at the perfect time and just stepped right in. They have done so much here that Jeff and I couldn't do," said Sue. "It was a good thing. It moved us forward faster than what I was capable of doing at the time."

"It's obviously super sentimental to keep the business in the family for me and then being able to fit into the job descriptions that are needed to take care of it," said Jeff. "We welcomed the opportunity to come back home and get out of the trades."

Jessica said the four-year transition gave them the chance to make sure it was a good fit for their family and ensure they were capable of doing everything that needed to be done to keep up the 17 cabins, 14 campsites and 17-acre property.

In the past four years the Kimmels have maintained and improved the cabins. They continued to offer portages to the Canoe Trail and invigorated the Rental Shack, fixing up the boats they had and adding new rental options each year including a ski boat and two jet skis this year.

"It started just as a spot to house all the toys and it grew," said Jessica. "We saw a demand for it. We started staffing it and selling ice cream and other little things."

In the future they are considering putting in a Frisbee golf course and enclosing the pavilion, to make a rustic lodge that offers an indoor space for larger groups.

The Tamaracks continues to be a sought-after wedding venue. The Kimmels are looking forward to bringing in more events to the resort including live music and networking with local artists to provide opportunities to their guests and the community.

"We'd like for people to come out and experience the Tamaracks," said Jessica. "It is still amazing how many people in town haven't been here. We would like to hold hands with the community and be more involved even though we are two miles north of town."

The Kimmels partnered with the Seeley Lake Area Chamber of Commerce this winter to host the Chamber Chill. They are looking forward to promoting a "second high season" in the winter.

Through all the challenges the Heagys have faced, the Kimmels feel that the clientele their parents have fostered are incredibly loyal.

"We just want to make sure [our guests] have a good time and make sure they get their bucket list done on their vacation," said Jeff.

For Jeff, maintaining the 100-year old cabins is going to be an ongoing challenge. He and Jessica want to preserve the historical character of the cabins while doing the necessary work to keep them well maintained.

The Heagys have always enjoyed working side-by-side at the resort. The Kimmels are looking forward to the same opportunity to work on projects together.

"I don't think a lot of families could do what we have done for the last four years," said Jessica. "I think for everything we have been through, it has done nothing but strengthen us and our relationships."

Kayden enjoys running around with his dad helping with the maintenance on the cabins. He also helps run the Rental Shack and does the lawn work.

"I was a part of the plan. I'm finally at that age where I can understand and I can be involved," said Kayden who is looking forward to his family settling in as the owners.

"This place needed a lot of love and my parents were the ones to revitalize it," said Jeff. "It has made our lives so much easier because it is so well taken care of and so ramped up with the loyalties of the customers."

"With the heart at the center of it," Jessica added, finishing Jeff's sentence. "It was more than just business, it was personal relationships and a lot of love. You can feel it, the guests can feel it when you walk in."

Sue said she appreciates their guests and the community for their support saying, "it has been an awesome 27 years."

"We are pretty excited for [Jeff, Jessica and Kayden] and are really proud of them," said Sue. "It's bitter sweet but we know it is family and it will always be family as far as we can see into the future."

The Heagys will be spending more time down south in Mesquite, Nev. They hope to come and help out with the business when needed, calling themselves the "first support team."

"The history of this place is so important. It is vital to keep that alive. The character of the cabins, the experience when guests come onto the property, it's about the families, being in touch with nature and having that real Montana experience," said Jessica. "The cabins are rustic but they are well maintained and we don't want to change any of that. We want to preserve that."

Jessica recently redesigned their website. For more information visit http://www.tamaracks.com

 
 

Reader Comments
(1)

janoliver writes:

Congratulations to Jessica and Jeff on their new official status! We both wish you well and know that you will preserve the ambiance of the Tamaracks experience. The Heagys, the Kimmels, and the Tamaracks will always remain in our hearts with wonderful memories! Cheers, Jan and Chester Oliver

 
 
 
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