Lower Kootenay Indian Band to purchase Ainsworth Hot Springs
Ainsworth Hot Springs Resort is getting a new owner.
Chief Jason Louie made the announcement in a press release Thursday that the Lower Kootenay Indian Band is purchasing the popular tourist destination on Kootenay Lake in April 2015.
The purchase price made available in the media release.
Chief Louie said this is an important economic develop investment for his people and it has historical significance too.
“The Lower Kootenay Band has a history with the site that dates back hundreds of years,” he said. “The Ainsworth Hot Springs are known by the Ktunaxa people as ‘nupika wu’u’, which has a literal translation meaning Spirit Water.”
Ainsworth Hot Spring is located 48 kilometers — 45 minute drive on Highway 3A to Balfour and Highway 31 to Ainsworth — on the west side of Kootenay Lake.
The pool has been a popular family-owned business since 1962.
Current owners Norm and Joyce Mackie purchased the property from Joyce’s parents, Sam and Belle Homen, in 1979.
The Lower Kootenay Indian Band is one of Four Canadian and two US communities that comprise the Ktunaxa Nation. Lower Kootenay (Yaqan Nukiy) is located in the Creston Valley and has a population of about 250.
Louie said there are no immediate changes are planned for the resort.
He and band representatives met with resort staff on Wednesday to announce that all employees would be kept on.
LKB will be investing in capital improvements at the resort in the near future.
“The resort will provide meaningful employment and business opportunities for the citizens of Yaqan Nukiy and local residents, and will continue to be a major tourism destination of the region,” he said. The resort currently provides about 50 jobs in the management and operation of the hot springs, 41-room hotel and restaurant.”
Current owners Norm and Joyce Mackie said in a written statement they are pleased to enter into this purchase agreement with Chief Jason Louie and the Lower Kootenay Band.
“This has been a wonderful 35-year ride for our family,” said the Mackie family.
“Probably the best part for us has been to watch young people, in their first job, come to work with us, and become self-assured contributors to the work force.
“Many of these people come back to visit and tell us this was probably the best job they ever had. This is truly gratifying.”
Chief Louie said one of the goals for the new owners is to work closely with Ainsworth area residents and to continue to build relationships to strengthen the area’s tourist economy.
“The Spirit Water has been medicine for healing various ailments that the human body experiences,” he said. “This business venture reconnects our First Nation to a significant cultural site of the Ktunaxa people.
“The Lower Kootenay Band will continue to strive for excellence in hospitality and experience. Professional development will be ongoing and customer service will remain a priority.”