Hudson House is now the Grand HotelThere is a history behind everything and the Hudson House is no different. The owner Stu Schultz has been a part of its history since 1976, when his father Harold bought the hotel which had been open since 1965.
By: Margaret Ontl, Hudson Star-Observer
There is a history behind everything and the Hudson House is no different.
The owner Stu Schultz has been a part of its history since 1976, when his father Harold bought the hotel which had been open since 1965.
Its colorful history goes back further than that to an era a bit earlier when a group of investors bought the land and built the facility in anticipation of pari-mutuel betting becoming legal in Wisconsin. According Stu Schultz, that the law did not go through and the property went back to the bank. It eventually opened in December of 1965, owned by Sam Buron who operated it until 1972.
“Back in the day they brought in a lot of big name performers,” said Schultz. “The business was sold in 1972 but went back to Buron in 1974.”
“We came along in 1976,” said Schultz, who was born and raised in South St. Paul. “Dad was looking for something to do. The first ten years were not easy. That was back in the day when interest rates were high and the gas prices were rising. We were one of the lucky ones to survive.” Harold Schultz, 50 at the time he purchased the Hudson House, had worked in the glass and glazing contracting for 20 years before establishing his own company, Gateway Glass Co. in 1968. He sold it in 1975, paving the way for him and his family to start a new adventure. At the time Harold and Donna had five sons and they hoped it would become a family business.
Stu was 22 at the time and started right in working with his father.
Stu’s wife Cyndee Lindgren has worked alongside of him nearly as long. Daughter Brittany Schultz has also joined the business.
It was in 1984 the Hudson House, already with an established reputation, signed on with Best Western.
“The hospitality industry has its ups and downs and through it all we have been able to survive,” said Schultz. “Best Western is a great organization but for this type and age of hotel, it was no longer a good fit.”
Late last year Schultz dropped his affiliation with Best Western.
“I decided to go away from the franchise and go back on our own,” said Schultz. “It enables me to be a little more flexible. I didn’t think I was getting the return on the investment. When you are put in that situation where you become non-competitive in your own market it is time for a change.
“First and foremost we have always been known as the Hudson House,” said Schultz.
“My industry will remain flat for the foreseeable future,” said Schultz. “People are so price conscious, which translates in seeking value and quality at the same time. Price dictates where the leisure traveler will go. It is very competitive out there.”
Leaving the Best Western franchise name means Schulz can now post his rates on the sign outside, among other freedoms to help the Hudson House survive lean times.
“I have a lot of colleagues that wouldn’t move from a brand with us if it is different,” said Schultz. “We are the only full service hotel in town. We have a restaurant, lounge, meeting rooms, banquet facilities and 100 guest rooms. That’s been our niche. Still being full service and having the name the Hudson House, nobody ever referred to us as the Best Western.” The hotel operated for 20 years before as an independent, pointed out Stu.
“For right now for with what is happening we want to survive and continue to offer a full service hotel and keep our 50 employees, mostly part-time, working,” said Schultz.
When Schultz’s father purchased the Hudson House in 1976 he also purchased the entire tract of land, which was 34 acres of land according to an article in the March 25, 1976 Hudson Star-Observer. Later in 1982 Fleet Farm purchased 23 of those acres.
“That was a ‘godsend’,” said Schulz, “Fleet Farm has been and continues to be a great neighbor.”
“Hudson is a very unique and different city,” said Schultz. “It is not your norm, it is both suburban and rural at the same time. It has a mystique of its own.” That pretty much sums up why Stu’s father, Harold, moved his family to Hudson all those years ago, a fascination with Hudson and the river. Harold died in 1998.
Today, according to Schultz, hotel properties have to give away everything to be competitive; free breakfast and free Internet are two of the most common.
“The nature of the market now is that it all has to be included in the room rate,” said Schultz.
“We are going to continue to make improvements and recently became a pet friendly hotel,” said Schultz. “That is an expanding market and we have been pleased with how responsible the pet owners have been who have chosen to stay with us.”
The Hudson House Grand Hotel offers a swimming pool and weight room for its guests and hosts the longest operating beauty shop in Hudson. They also host a dinner theater, under the direction of Jim Zimmerman.
For more information about the Hudson House Grand Hotel, call (715) 386-2394 or go to www.hudsonhousegrandhotel.com which is currently under construction. It is located at 1616 Crest View Drive.