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For Sale

Waterway Inn: Business and property

5 years ago, we bought a roadside motel in need of some TLC in beautiful Indian River, Michigan. Presented with a new opportunity, we have decided it's time to move on! What was a 3.5/5 rating when we purchased the Inn, known as the Coach House Motel at the time, is now a 4.6/5. This is the result of over $400,000 in improvements. Some of the highlights are:

  • Partial renovations in every room and mobile home

  • Improved internet speed and accessibility

  • New beds, linens, and towels

  • New Roku televisions

  • New reservation system that seamlessly connects to major OTA sites

A bit about the Waterway Inn. Built in the early 70's, it is located on an almost 2-acre parcel of land, in the heart of Indian River.  It is .25 miles off of exit 310 in Indian River, named for the river that runs between Burt and Mullett Lakes, the 5th and 4th largest lakes in Michigan, respectively, and part of the Inland Waterway. Indian River is known as the hub of northern Michigan. From here, you are less than 30 minutes from Petoskey on Lake Michigan, Lake Huron, Gaylord, the Mackinac Bridge, and Mackinaw City to catch the ferry to Mackinac Island! 

The Inn has 11 rooms and six mobile homes on site.  The rooms are roughly 330 sq. ft., and the mobile homes are roughly 600 sq. ft. There is a 1,200 sq. ft. living quarters attached to the office with three bedrooms, and one full bath.  There is room to add additional units on the property, and there is a lot adjacent to the Inn that the owner has indicated he is willing to sell if you're considering expansion. For pictures of the property, follow this link.

The Inn has quickly gained a reputation for having the cleanest rooms and providing the best value, as evidenced by the reviews. We frequently refer visitors to other facilities in the area during the summer months because we don't have rooms to accommodate all who want to stay.  Some other items that are unique to the Waterway Inn that make it the preferred lodging facility in Indian River:

  • Location

    • The property is located on the ideal side of I-75 (west side), and near the busiest intersection in Cheboygan County.

    • The property is within walking distance of the downtown area, the state park, township boat launch, grocery store, gas stations, and most restaurants. It also has direct access to the 720 rail trail, which is used for bicycling, snowmobiling, etc. It is the only lodging facility that can make this claim.

    • Due to the Inn's proximity to exit 310 and our stellar Google rating,  the Inn gets the bulk of the drop-in guests that come to town.  

  • Partnerships

    • The Inn is the only recommended lodging facility for the prestigious Indian River Golf Club.

    • The police and towing companies bring stranded passengers to the Waterway Inn

    • All of the local ice-fishing guides

    • Sturgeon River Paddle Sports

    • Ken Clark Fishing Charters

  • Repeat customers

    • The Inn has become the go-to lodging facility for many contractors and travelers, generating repeat business. Due to this, the Waterway Inn had No Vacancy on April 16, the 24th, and the 26th which is phenomenal since April is generally the worst month. Every other lodging facility was sitting at 80% vacancy on those nights. April is so slow that several businesses in town close down for part or all of April. 

  • Waterway Inn vs The Competition

    • It was not uncommon for the Waterway Inn to be the only lodging facility to have no vacancy during the weekdays last summer.

    • Two years ago, a motel in Indian River was purchased for close to 700K. Since then, they have invested over 300K in improvements. The Waterway Inn is in better condition than the other place. 

    • The Waterway Inn was the only sold-out lodging facility for the weekend of 4/19-4/21. There was an early side-by-side ride called the Spring Mush Ride, which left from the Hometown Inn on 4/20, and we are the only place that has been sold out for weeks.  Every other place was at least 30% empty.

    • An out-of-state investment group owns a hotel in town and has horrible reviews

    • A local resort only takes 7-day reservations and is only open in the summer.

    • The local lodge is overpriced, is in a bad location, and has poor customer service.

    • 3 of the facilities are now owned by a hospitality group, are in bad locations, and have changed their business model from a Mom & Pop model that greets you at check-in to AirBnB style where the guests have no interaction with the employees and owners. This change has alienated their customer base, most have chosen not to return to Indian River and those who do are now staying at The Waterway Inn.

    • The Waterway Inn is the ONLY owner/operated lodging facility in Indian River, which makes a huge difference.

  • Other uses for the property

    • The property is zoned commercial, which gives a potential buyer lots of flexibility on uses (See pages 39+40) for the permitted uses and special permit uses)

  • It comes with a Laundry Service

    • We started a drop-off laundry service at the height of the pandemic. We have done very little advertising. We expect sales for 2024 to exceed $20,000. 

  • About Indian River

    • Indian River is becoming the new hot spot in Northern Michigan, with over 6 million dollars in commercial real estate transactions in the last 5 years. These transactions include 2 marinas, 3 lodging facilities, and 4 restaurants. 

    • Availability of commercial property is limited

    • Due to the large swaths of State Land, the lakes, and zoning restrictions, the available land that's zoned commercial and in a great locations is minimal. 

  • Improvements/Upgrades

    • Over $400,000 in upgrades and improvements

  • Staff

    • Two staff members are cross-trained in housekeeping and front desk. One of them has a home improvement background that has been utilized for improvements and upgrades

  • Support

    • The Inn comes 

      • with all of the policies and procedures we put in place

      • Upgrade/improvement log with part numbers and paint colors

      • Vendor lists 

      • Free support from us for the first two years

  • The Future

    • If someone were to keep the business as transient lodging, get rid of the mobile homes, and build 30 rooms in that space, they would get the bulk of the reservations coming to Indian River and put most, if not all, of the lodging establishments on Straits highway out of business. This is due to the location, the following we've developed, and the number of people we have to turn away yearly because we don't have enough rooms.  

  • What's near the Waterway Inn and Indian River?

Here is your opportunity to own a lodging facility in a rapidly growing town that, in the last four years, has experienced an influx of new business owners to the area via sales of:

  • 4 of the 7 lodging facilities

  • 3 restaurants

  • 2 of the 3 marinas

Follow this link for an article highlighting the recent influx of interest in the Petoskey area. This article is a few years late as the interest and investment in Petoskey has been strong for the last 3-5 years. Due to that, investors are moving north to the next closest town with a lake, and that's Indian River. 

Revenue and financials: Sales have more than doubled since our first year of ownership! We are willing to provide P+L statements for the last 3 years with a completed NDA (Please make a copy before modifying) AND Proof of Funds. Once completed, email to

Due to the pace at which we chose to make improvements, we had to sacrifice profit. Almost every dollar that came across the desk from the customer went to improvements and staff payroll. The major renovations have been completed, so you won't purchase a business needing significant upgrades. The purchase price includes the land, business, and all the equipment, furnishings, etc., that are part of the business or needed to run the business.

Price: Was $1.2m, now $950,000* 

*We are able to reduce the asking price by not using an agent.  If an agent is required, the buyer will pay the agent's fee, or the price goes up to $1.2 million.

Questions: Call 231-238-9370 between the hours of 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. EST and ask for Jess or Chris. Email anytime at



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