How long has your business been in the Balfour/Harrop area?
The Ainsworth Hot Springs were first considered a vacation spot as early as 1929 when Mr. John Burns II of Nelson purchased and began developing the property. The present hotel was built in 1987 by Norm and Joyce Mackie, and the Resort as we know it became a successful family operation. In 2015, the Resort was sold to the Lower Kootenay Band (Yaqan Nukiy) of Creston, reconnecting them to a significant cultural site of the Ktunaxa people. With the addition of the Yaqan Nukiy Suites, Ainsworth Hot Springs Resort will continue to grow and strengthen the local tourism economy.
What services do you provide? What makes your business special?
The Resort provides year-round employment to 50-60 people in the operation and management of the business. Services include Hot Springs pool and cave, Accommodation, Food & Beverage, and Gift Shop. The Hot Springs is what people come to enjoy. The warm mineral water was first referred to by the Ktunaxa people as nupika wu’u, meaning spirit water. It is the Hot Springs experience that makes any visit special.
What do you love about our area and how does it affect business and how you operate?
Kootenay Lake is the perfect backdrop for small business. The diverse cultural vibe and four distinct seasons allow the opportunity to provide something for everyone. Who doesn’t want a warm winter get-away without traveling too far? The Ktunaxa Grill features meat and produce grown by the Yaqan Nukiy Farms. It became inevitable that we would find ourselves providing staff accommodation and currently house 16 employees. On-site generators keep the lights on during power outages, another issue of remote living. We manage our own water and waste treatment plant blending our business into a community within a community.
Tell us a little about yourself! What drew you to the area, how do you enjoy the area when you’re not working? What do you love most about your job?
I was raised in Nelson, and following several moves throughput BC, found myself back in the area. In 1999, I applied for a position at the Resort and committed to staying a year. With a background in communication and human services, I seemed to be well suited to the tourism industry. My job description has covered many aspects of the business and became very meaningful for me when the Lower Kootenay Band took ownership in 2015. I find my work purposeful and rewarding on many levels. I’ve worked with numerous associations over the years and served on the Board of Nelson Kootenay Lake Tourism, representing the accommodation sector for three terms. With an attitude of doing “something new in ‘22”, I hope to make myself useful as a Director of the BDBHA.
Jake Murfitt, Acting GM Ainsworth Hot Springs Resort