Darlene Sibbeston has wanted to run the Maroda Motel since the age of 13. “I’d have to walk by it daily,” she said. “I recall thinking I would love to own that building one day.”
Little did she know that to make her dream come true, she would also acquire the Nahanni Inn. On Monday, both Fort Simpson establishments reopened under her management.
The Nahanni Inn consists of 32 rooms, a bar, restaurant, dining lounge and a manager’s residence. The Maroda Motel has 16 rooms.
Sibbeston, a former mayor of Fort Simpson, took ownership of the properties on December 18 – a transaction first reported by CKLB. She spent the holidays with a crew fixing them up, including a deep clean.
She described a two-person crew taking eight days to clean and improve the kitchen area.
Now, she’s learning how to manage a restaurant.
“I have no clue how to run one but it’s working so far,” Sibbeston said.
She hopes to introduce a new menu at the Nahanni Inn in the near future and renovate some rooms.
“They do need some upgrades. As money is available, we’ll do the rooms. I’m hoping one a month, that kind of thing,” she said.
Anticipating the return of tourism and travel beyond the pandemic, Sibbeston is looking into partnerships with airlines and tour operators to create packages that include the inn.
Dehcho residents, too, are at the heart of her plans.
“I just want the business to succeed in accommodating our region, because we have about seven communities outside Fort Simpson that use it as their hub,” she said.
“We’re providing them a safe and comfortable place to stay.”