Visitors to Keystone are met with a wide range of lodging options. Depending on their comfort level and appetite for adventure, they may choose a hotel, cabin, or camping. Two of the most popular (and comfortable) places to stay in town are the Baymont Inn & Suites and the Ramada Inn, both of which are owned by Tim Johnson of Presidential Hospitality.
Tim is no stranger to the hospitality game. He owns five properties in South Dakota, including hotels in Rapid City, Sioux Falls, and Hill City. Keystone, he says, attracts an entirely different demographic than those other communities. Mount Rushmore pretty much sells itself, for starters; a lot of travelers are content with booking a hotel nearby before moving on to their next destination (often Yellowstone National Park). Inevitably, they are surprised to learn there is so much to do in Keystone and around the Black Hills.
“There is literally everything here for any demographic,” he says. “Whether you’re into history, want adventure, or you’re an outdoor enthusiast. It’s all about educating the traveler before they get here.”
When Tim first bought his hotels, the average stay was 1.2 nights. He has worked hard to get the word out that there is so much more to the area in addition to the memorial, and people are beginning to realize it; there has been a shift in the average length of stay, which is now up to 2-3 nights. Some people stay even longer.
Whether travelers are in town for one night or five, Tim’s hotels are the perfect base camp for exploration. The Baymont Inn, located on a bluff overlooking the town, offers panoramic views of Mount Rushmore—the only property in Keystone that can make that claim. Since buying the hotels in 2017, Tim has made millions of dollars worth of improvements to both properties, a commitment to service that is clear in the updated decor and generous amenities, beginning with a free continental breakfast in the Baymont Breakfast Corner. Guests can enjoy workouts in the onsite fitness center, take a dip in the indoor pool, relax in the hot tub, or soak in those incredible views of the memorial from the sundeck. All rooms feature flat-screen HDTV televisions, workspaces, mini-refrigerators, microwaves, coffee and tea makers, and ironing amenities.
The Ramada Inn is adjacent to the world-famous Keystone Boardwalk, providing easy access to the heart of the downtown business district. The onsite restaurant offers delicious and convenient choices for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Amenities include an indoor heated pool and hot tub, fitness center, bar and lounge, and laundry facilities. Rooms come with free Wi-Fi, mini-refrigerators, microwaves, flat-screen HDTV, coffee makers, hair dryers, and ironing amenities.
Keystone sees a rise of visitors during summer, but that doesn’t mean Tim’s staff isn’t busy throughout the rest of the year. Both hotels typically open the second week in April and close the second week in November, but the core staff uses the downtime to focus on various projects. Last winter all rooms received a fresh coat of paint, and this fall, they plan to add granite countertops.
That’s Tim’s way of ensuring visitors to Keystone have a memorable and positive experience, regardless of how long they’re in town.