New management for Marina Cay Resort in Bigfork

May 21, 2019

Whitefish Marine owner Garth Wells is extending his business south to Flathead Lake as the new leaseholder for Marina Cay Resort in Bigfork.

“It makes sense for a boat dealership to have a marina,” he said.

Wells said that among its other management duties, the company will take over watercraft rentals for Marina Cay, supplying boats, jet-skis, paddleboards and kayaks. Whitefish Marine has experience in rentals, going into its fourth summer of leasing equipment on Whitefish Lake. The dealership has thrived in three and a half years of business, recently opening a new 9,500-square-foot showroom on U.S. 93 just south of Whitefish.

“As a rental company owned by a dealership, our boats will all be two years or younger,” he said. “We really will have brand-new boats and we’ll be the place on Flathead Lake to rent a brand-new surf boat.”

Marina Cay has long been a draw for tourists and Flathead Valley locals, providing waterfront lodging for visitors, and most years offering a public tiki bar, two restaurants, an outdoor pool and a hot tub.

Robert and Beth Carette purchased the resort in 2015 and in January, the property reverted to ELK, LLC, which had maintained a 30% partnership while the Carettes were in charge. The resort has only been open to those renting the condominiums at times in its history, but it was available to everyone while the Carettes held the business.

Under the management of Whitefish Marine, Wells said that public access will remain. Locals or tourists not staying at the resort will be encouraged to patronize the resort, with passes for the pool available every day.

“We’re trying to create a family-friendly resort and marina environment for people,” he said, adding that yard games and arcade machines will be among the added draws for families, as well as a refurbished and repainted pool area.

The resort has two restaurants onsite, but only the downstairs establishment will be open for now, Wells said. Plans are to start up the tiki bar on June 1 and everything else should be in business by the weekend of June 15.

Rental of the privately owned condominiums will still be managed by Sarah Meadows, who has worked for the resort for four years and started as front-office manager during the summer of 2018.

She’s happy to be part of a Bigfork institution.

“I think that Marina Cay has a huge impact, not just on locals, but travelers who want to visit Flathead Lake,” she said. “We have waterside dining with views of the bay. We’re close to downtown, we’re community-oriented.”

Reporter Heidi Gaiser may be reached at 758-4438 or hgaiser@dailyinterlake.com.

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