It was built by Bill and Edgar O’Haire, two brothers from the Great Falls/Shelby area. For one year they travelled the US to find great things in hotels along the way, and then brought all those ideas back here and incorporated them into the building you see today.
Known for their exotic ideas, the Inn was originally built with a helicopter landing pad on the roof of the pool building. Some of the other unique features of the Inn include the windows in the lounge that allow a view into the pool underwater, the push button light switches placed in each guest room for convenience, and the colored housekeeping light system outside each guest room door.
In 1968, Melvin Mantzey and two business partners bought the Inn. It was actively managed by Mr. Mantzey until a car accident in 1979. At that time, he brought another business partner in to manage day to day operations of the hotel. At about the same time the “Manor” was removed from the name and “Motor Inn” was added.
In 1994 Mr. Mantzey assumed complete ownership of the building. With the assistance of his stepdaughter Sandra Johnson-Thares, the Inn made a comeback. In 2000 the O’Haire was named the top Small Family Business of the Year for the state of Montana.
Mermaids were added to the pool in 1996, after a conversation between family members that it would be fun to put somebody dressed up as a mermaid in the pool for New Year’s Eve. A housekeeper that could swim was recruited, wrapped in a green plastic tablecloth and she was the first official Sip ‘n Dip mermaid. For the following few years, mermaids and mermen appeared on New Year’s Eve, until 2000 when they began swimming on weekends. Thereafter, it was deemed so popular that they appeared more frequently and now they swim 6 or 7 days a week.
The Sip ‘n Dip Lounge was originally designed as an Art Deco bar with stark white walls and the many retro colors of Formica that you see in the lounge today. However, in 1965 the O’Haire brothers decided to turn the Sip ‘n Dip into a tiki bar to compliment the theme of the pool windows. Over the years other tropical touches have been added making the Sip ‘n Dip one of Great Falls’ most unique drinking establishments. Patricia Spoonheim, the Sip ‘n Dip’s famous “Piano Pat” played in our lounge for over 50 years until her death in 2021. Joel Corda can now be heard playing in the lounge on Friday and Saturday evenings.
In 2022 we began a RETROVATION of the Inn to bring it back to its’ original look. We dropped the “Motor” from the name. The façade of the building was restored and updates made throughout, using original photos of the Inn to restore its’ retro cool. We will continue to retrovate the rooms until they are all done. For more information, please contact Sandra Johnson-Thares at 406-454-2141 or firstname.lastname@example.org.