When interest rates were crazy high, Detroit real estate agent, Carl Erxleben saw an ad in the Free Press advertising for a buyer for a 22-room hotel in northern Michigan. It was September, 1978 and though his wife, Pat, and three children weren’t thrilled with Carl’s grand plan, the former party store owner, brick layer and real estate agent bought the Lonesome Pines Motel.
Early on, the motel name became Harbor Hills Motor Lodge and a lot of the customers were fishermen. Summer tourism was good and winter skiing at the nearby resorts was a big draw. Learning the guests’ names and preferences helped the fledgling hoteliers in those first few years, too when rates were $24 to $48 a night.
A lot of changes took place over the past four decades. The building was bricked, rooms were added, a house, office, suites, coin laundry, breakfast room and pool helped bring in family business. In 1993, the Erxleben’s youngest son, Mike, stepped up to the helm as General Manager at about the same time the now 50 room motel became the Best Western of Harbor Springs to take advantage of the expansive reservation system and successful brand.
Pat has since passed away, but Carl is convinced that he made the right choice in moving his young family north. He acknowledges that a fantastic staff has been integral in the success. His kids agree and look forward to another 43 years in the community.