Green Hotels Association
    September 2016  


BOULDER HOT SPRINGS GREENS!

The Boulder Hot Springs (Montana) area was originally a gathering place for native peoples to bathe and rejuvenate themselves. Even warring tribes came to an agreement and vowed not to fight in this area, but to share the space peacefully, and so the area was named Peace Valley.

In 1863 James Riley, a miner, laid claim to the land and built a small hotel here for the use of local miners. In 1881 he expanded the hotel. 14-year PARTNER MEMBER Boulder Hot Springs Inn, Spa & Retreat Center’s 50,000 sq ft main building was enlarged and made a Victorian-style hotel in 1890. In 1909 the building and surrounding 200+ acres nestled amongst the picturesque Elkhorn Mountains was purchased by James Murray, a Butte millionaire who expanded and renovated the property into a California mission-style building including a stucco-like Gunnite finish which still remains. The hotel currently includes 33 guest rooms, 2,500+ sq ft of meeting space along with an outdoor pool, indoor soaking pools and steam rooms. All water features use the geothermal mineral spring water cooled by natural well water. Some of the fabulous changes included hardwood maple floors, highly stenciled ceilings and even gold-leaf stenciling on the walls and ceiling of the card room which catered to poker players.

There are 30 to 40 geothermal springs on the property, and the 140-175°F. heavily-mineralized water contains sodium bicarbonate, potassium, calcium, magnesium, silica alumina and traces of iron among other minerals. There is little sulphur in the mix, so the resort is very fortunate not to have the rotten-egg smell. From the earliest Indian times, the healthful and curative effects of these mineral waters were well known and appreciated for sufferers of arthritis and other ailments such as back, muscle and joint pain. Since the beginning, people have traveled many miles to enjoy the benefits of the waters, and today people travel from all over the world to visit here along with up to 100 day-trippers on the weekends.

In 1989 after the building had lain in disrepair for a decade or so, it was close to being demolished. However, when Anne Wilson-Schaef saw it, she was mesmerized and purchased the property against the advice of others. At that point, there was a true waterfall from the third floor to the ground floor because of burst pipes. She was undaunted, and began a mission that continues today to renovate and renew the property “for the people of Montana.”

The hot springs water was used to heat the building through piping to radiators, but the minerals clogged the pipes. Anne developed a heat-exchange system so that well water heated by the hot springs water is now piped through the building for heating. Amazingly enough, their hot spring water is recycled and used three times—it provides building heating, then goes to their 670 sq. ft. greenhouse where herbs and vegetables are grown and then to the chicken coop where 16 hens stay toasty warm while creating all the organic eggs needed for food service. The last rooster they had was apparently mean or protective to an unacceptable point, so is not around any longer. The chickens all stay healthy and fat because they’re fed kitchen food scraps.

The property borders on the Deerlodge National Forest which includes many miles of hiking trails. Many fruit trees abound on the property. There are bee hives to promote the bee culture in the area and provide honey.

Early renovations included replacing thousands of pounds of iron piping and radiators, all of which was recycled, resulting in $600 in income and relief at not sending all to the landfill. Replacement of windows with triple-pane versions resulted in many staff members building cold frames and greenhouses at home from retired windows. Fabulous original hardwood maple flooring was reconditioned and restored rather than installing new flooring. Current renovations include in-floor geo-thermal heat where restoration is occurring. Antique rugs and furnishings rather than new will also reside in the renovated areas.

Of course non-toxic, biodegradable cleaning products such as vinegar, baking soda, borax and Dr. Bronner’s natural soap as well as natural pesticides and fertilizers are used throughout. Rainwater is collected and reused on plantings.

For years 2006 through 2014 Boulder Hot Springs' management is very proud to have won the Montana Eco-Star Pollution Prevention Award. This award was given to Montana businesses, non-profits, schools, hospitals, cities/counties and community groups which have been caring for the environment and reducing their carbon footprint, but the award has now been discontinued.

Management is very proud that staff members take what they learn from the Boulder Hot Springs’ green practices and implement them at home, and that employees have commented that they love working for a green organization which is not doing harm to the land or the people and wildlife involved.

Applause, please, for Owner Anne Wilson-Schaef and Manager Kerri Kumasaka for their dedication and diligence in protecting this so valuable historic and incredible site with their superb green practices!

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Hot Spring Water

Amazingly enough, their hot spring water is recycled and used three times—it provides building heating, then goes to their 670 sq. ft. greenhouse where herbs and vegetables are grown and then to the chicken coop where 16 hens stay toasty warm while creating all the organic eggs needed for food service.
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