By Dennis Gaub
Its location and clientele make Billings’ Boothill Inn a perfect fit for the Magic City’s trail system, and the hotel’s management has taken advantage of that match.
“The Boothill Inn is ideally located at a crossroads with our trails,” said Shelli Mann, the hotel’s general manager.
“Just outside our front door our guests can access the Rims, the Yellowstone River and Alkali Creek area using our trails. And they love it!”
Mann said her company senses an obligation to support Billings’ growing trail system, and Billings TrailNet provides a structure that simplifies that backing.
“We appreciate everything Billings TrailNet does for our city,” Mann said.
Boothill Inn, as an independent hotel owned by a Billings family, can do things the way its owners want – and the way guests want, she said.
For example, the hotel has a historic buggy in the lobby that came from the owners’ ranch near Miles City, as well as a dinosaur on display.
“How cool is that!” she said.
“So, we want to reflect Billings and Montana through our hotel, and I believe we accomplish that. We have fun,” Mann said.
The inn sells itself using what’s available nearby and has the advantage of a “perfect location” to encourage guests to explore Billings via its extensive non-motorized trail system, she said.
“Boothill Cemetery, Yellowstone Kelly Interpretive Site and the Yellowstone County Museum are all available to our guests on foot or on bikes.”
Mann said the trails also serve as a natural low-cost or no-cost program to improve employee satisfaction.
“If someone is having a bad day, we send them for a walk – they come back reenergized,” she said, adding that she also benefits from the convenient outdoor amenities.
“I am so excited to see the sun shining again because that means I can get back to my daily walk. Getting out in that fresh air makes us better employees.”
Boothill Inn’s support for Billings TrailNet includes years of participation in the annual Ales for Trails festivities, a “great event” that she and her husband never miss, Mann said.
Mann said Billings TrailNet Executive Director Kristi Drake not only is the face of the organization but is involved in other city events.
“I am pleased to call her my friend,” Mann said.
Like other Billings TrailNet members, she has a sweeping vision for the future of Billings trails.
“First of all, we would love to see that stretch completed between 27th Street and Zimmerman up on the Rims. Secondly, to complete the Marathon Loop.
“As someone who markets not only the Boothill Inn, but Billings: I know that guests are looking for opportunities to get out and see our city.
“Don’t get me wrong. Our trails already offer that so much better than most communities. But think how awesome it would be to show our guest that map and say, ‘start here … end up here.’”
The Boothill Inn plans to play a lead role in the Billings TrailNet’s annual Tour de Fleur, which kicks off on May 3. It will do so by making bicycles available for complimentary use by guests and employees during May.
Mann is excited by the plan to have Boothill Inn employees together decorate bikes and ride them on the trails.
“It will not only be a fun way to support Billings TrailNet, but it will be a fun employee outing,” she said.