It is quite evident from Vanda Smrkovski’s various revelations that appearing in Hotel Hell was nothing more than a publicity stunt for the owner of the Calumet Inn.
Through the years, quite a few business owners have been accused of using the celebrity chef, Gordon Ramsay’s business-rescue show, Hotel Hell, as an elaborate ploy to earn their 15 minutes of fame.
But few have seen backlash like Rina and Vanda Smrkovski, the owners of the Calumet Inn, which was featured in the second season of the series.
While it is true that the show’s portrayal of these two spoilt sisters (who received the inn as a gift from their father) was less than flattering, there is simply no denying that they had absolutely no passion for the business – outside of the reality television fame that it could bring.
The Calumet Inn publicity stunt
In fact, in an otherwise heartfelt letter which Vanda Smrkovski posted to the Calumet Inn’s Facebook page (in a long post from 2014) she even admits that the reason why she applied to be on the show was to put Calumet Inn (and the town of Pipestone) “on the national map.”
She claimed that she did this by opening her mind and heart “to getting publicity at any cost”.
This would also explain why the Calumet Inn was featured in yet another business rescue show called Resort Rescue, shortly after it was featured on Hotel Hell.
And why the Smrkovski sisters moved to sell the business as soon as their reality television fame started fading, just a little over a year after Ramsay’s visit.
What happened at the Calumet Inn after Hotel Hell
It is certainly not rare for the lodging establishments featured on Hotel Hell to change ownership or even close down after Ramsay and his team hit the road.
However, the Smrkovski sisters moved to sell their historic inn just months after the Hotel Hell episode first aired.
This short timeline of events can be summarized as follows:
|August 18, 2014
|Hotel Hell episode premieres
|April 16, 2016
|Calumet Inn is sold to Hermann Bauer and Chad McMillen, but the deal later falls through
|Tammy Grubbs enters into the contract for the business’s deed
How Vanda Smrkovski responded to her portrayal on the show
Although this does not prove unequivocally that Vanda approached the idea of appearing on Hotel Hell as one big attention-grabbing stunt, this inn-owner did agree to write several of her ‘journal’ entries with the Pipestone County Star after filming for the series.
These journal entries each go into great detail about how she felt before, during and after filming this episode, but it seems like Vanda, like most of the business owners who have appeared on the show over the years, would do it all again in a heartbeat.
Vanda even quoted one of the waitresses in her journal entry, who said “that week was insane. But look at all the positives that finally happened afterwards”.
The Calumet Inn’s other reality show appearance
Although the Calumet Inn had been doing fairly well after Ramsay’s visit, and Vanda had felt like she did absolutely everything she could to (in her own words) “grab America’s attention like snake charmers” once the Hotel Hell crew showed up to film the episode, it did not take long for Vanda to sign on to do it all over again – this time with the Travel Channel’s Resort rescue show.
The “Bartender Breakdown” episode of Resort Rescue, which featured the Calumet Inn as the failing business in need of the rescue, officially started filming in July 2014, before the Calumet Hotel episode from Kitchen Nightmares even premiered.
Is the Calumet Inn still open?
The Calumet Inn is an institution in Pipestone which has been around since 1887. But it will seemingly be some time until this historic business manages to stay out of the press.
After the Smrkovski sisters’ first attempt to sell the business fell through in 2016, they moved to enter a contract for the business’s deed with the Calumet Inn’s general manager at the time, Tammy Grubbs.
However, shortly after this contract was set up, the Calumet Inn was condemned by the city of Pipestone for being a fire hazard.
Although Tammy and many local patrons of the Calumet Inn tried their best to get this decision reversed, Tammy took to Facebook to announce on May of 2022 that the Calumet Inn would be closing, indefinitely.
This message stated, “We hope that this is temporary”, but the Calumet Inn has not been open for business again since. Moreover, the lawsuit between Tammy, Vanda and the city of Pipestone has also not been resolved yet.