In the early 1960s, our family, with JJ Hilsinger at the helm, moved to Sault Ste. Marie to begin our first enterprise; a food distribution business. In short time, we bought a piece of property in the northeast section of the city which was still quite rural. Today it is the busiest commercial corridor in the Sault. The property housed a failing Kentucky Fried Chicken outlet, which we took over, gradually expanding the franchise to six stores. We still chuckle at old black and white photos of lines of customers who would line up for our delicious crisp chicken, locally referred to as JJ's chicken.
In 1974, we began construction of a 4-story motor hotel on the original property, and named it the Water Tower Inn for its location next to the city’s water tower. The new Inn was famous for having a honey-moon suite featuring the Sault’s first over-size whirlpool tub; and also for the live bands we’d bring into the Sawmill Lounge.
Over the years, the Inn evolved to broader facilities, architectural features and name; first to Algoma’s Water Tower Inn, and presently, Algoma’s Water Tower Inn & Suites. We always preferred to stay independent, and share our own vision of what hospitality is.
From 1985 to 1999, we were the developers and operators of Searchmont Ski Resort, building it into a destination resort offering the best skiing in the Midwest.
We have always relied on the collective personalities of our committed staff to help us deliver our personal brand of hospitality. Thousands of Sault Ste. Marie individuals have been employed in our enterprises over the years. Virtually every family in Sault Ste. Marie has been part of our operations in one way or another.
Whether you are in the Sault for business or leisure, we want to share our comfortable Inn with you, so that business is a pleasure and travel is more fun.
My first stay at the Water Tower Inn was after a family trip across Canada. We pulled in to the brand new facility in the wee hours of the morning after 5 weeks of camping. It was heavenly!!!! So much so that it became our first and last night stop whenever we headed west. Those stays are something of a legend in my family and this July I had the chance to show my son why. On a cold rainy day, coming back from Thunder Bay, we ditched the tent and checked in on our last night. I wouldn't have thought it could be better than my memories but it was. From the warm welcome at the front desk to the 2 hours we spent in the water. Thanks to the wonderful staff, facility and service the legend continues!- Dawn