Marc and Mercedes Steffes are bringing back the golden age to Okoboji.
They are the owners of one of the Iowa Great Lakes’ newest establishments. The Inn Hotel opened its doors on May 24 this year complete with a hotel featuring 38 rooms, an on-site restaurant, pool area and banquet room.
The Inn Hotel might be a new building with all up-to-date amenities, but its decor and feel are straight from the Roaring Twenties.
“Our inspiration for The Inn Hotel really came from our love of travel and we really love old, classic hotels with character,” Mercedes said. “There’s this place that we go to in Los Angeles called The Sunset Tower and it’s a beautiful, old art deco building. It has a romantic, old fashioned feel. It really makes you feel like you’ve been transported to another time.”
Two years ago, the Steffes purchased the land where the hotel now sits in Arnolds Park, but they weren’t sure exactly what they were going to do with it.
“Marc has been working with Arnolds Park Amusement Park on their renovations of their historic buildings for a few years now and has a connection with the area and a real passion for the work they are doing over there. He wanted to do something that would support what’s going on down at the park with the new Roof Garden and things, but when were on vacation in Los Angeles he had an epiphany,” Mercedes said.
He wanted to put a hotel on that land.
While both Marc and Mercedes currently and in the past have owned their own businesses, going into the hotel and restaurant business was something neither had ever done before.
“We decided to go for it even though we’ve never run a hotel before. Luckily, he’s in construction and he felt comfortable with that part and I love doing design so I took on that role,” Mercedes said.
When it came to the decor and feeling for the hotel and restaurant, the Steffes knew that they wanted to do something a little different, but that they also wanted to honor a beloved Okoboji landmark.
“The original Inn had been demolished not long before we got the bug to do this and we thought it would be a neat way to honor the original Inn,” Mercedes said. “We plan on having a ton of history on the walls including memorabilia, pictures and the old sign in our banquet room.”
The architecture itself also gives a nod to The Inn at Okoboji at the same time as being art deco.
“We went with a lot of curves and arches which are reminiscent of the original Inn,” Mercedes said.
The art deco vibe hits you right when you walk through the front door and you feel as if you’ve been transported into the world of “The Great Gatsby” with dark green walls and black and white tile with gold accents. Its moody and romantic in a fun, glamorous way. The guest rooms also share this same style. There are a variety of different size rooms but they all have a very luxurious feel with the same moody and romantic colors.
Picture gray accent walls with sleek flooring and touches of gold, wood and animal print accents. The furniture is unique with clean, feminine, curved lines. New radios look like vintage ones, but these have all the modern bells and whistles.
The bathrooms feature either a walk-in glass shower complete with dark tile or the more standard tubs with showers, which are a must for those with kiddos or for those who simply like a soak at the end of the day. The gold is brought into the bathrooms too with fixtures.
The headboards in the rooms are a luxurious leather that lends some masculinity and texture to the space.
The rooms are located on the second and third floors of the hotel that can be accessed by both stairs and an elevator. The pool is located off the second floor and some of the rooms open up onto the pool area.
The owners have big plans for the outdoor pool and patio area.
“We knew we wanted a pool and the way we made it work was to have it on the second floor in a courtyard. It’s great. It’s like a little hideaway,” Mercedes said. “Our vision is that we will keep the pool heated all year round so it will kind of be like a big hot tub in the winter so people should still be able to use it even in the winter.”
In addition to the reception area and the banquet room, the first floor of hotel is home to The Beach Club Lounge.
While still firmly in the 1920s era, they decided to take a trip south of the United States for the inspiration for the decor for the restaurant that seats about 90 and the patio can seat another 50.
“The theme in here is old Havana, Cuba, with the same vintage feel of the hotel during the 1920s and ‘30s. During that time of prohibition, Havana was the place to be because obviously they didn’t have prohibition there and the alcohol was flowing,” Mercedes said.
The inspiration for the name for the restaurant came from much closer to home.
“The Beach Club is the name we decided to go with because at the original Inn, there was a beach club on the property. We thought it would be a neat ode to The Inn and our overall theme of wanting to honor them,” Mercedes said.
The food and cocktail menu have also been inspired by the decor of the restaurant as well.
“I would say that the food has a little bit of a Caribbean twist — Cuban-infused American,” Mercedes said. “Our drinks are going to more of a craft cocktail. We obviously have wine and beer but we worked with a mixologist from Des Moines to help create a menu for us.”
The restaurant features a beautiful, wood three-sided bar that helps create the atmosphere of old Havana, which is further enhanced by a mix of leather, wicker and wood furnishings. There’s also going to be old jazz and Cuban music playing in the restaurant to further add to the ambience.
Both the hotel and the restaurant are a part of the larger theme supporting the design and function of The Inn Hotel.
“Our unofficial motto is we want to help people ‘experience the golden age.’ We want to bring back a time when entertaining was an art form,” Mercedes said. “Back to a time when drinks were pristine and served in beautiful glassware and things were just more special and fancy.”