Motel Possible: the fall and rise of the Victorian Inn

Marilyn Fink stands in front of the Victorian Inn in Sparks, Nev. / Photo by Molly J. Moser
Marilyn Fink stands in front of the Victorian Inn in Sparks, Nev. / Photo by Molly J. Moser


The Victorian Inn in Sparks, Nev. is going through some renovations. The motel just received a helping hand from Anthony Melchiorri, host of Travel Channel reality program “Hotel Impossible”.

Former real estate agent Marilyn Fink has been in love with the Victorian Inn since purchasing it in 2003. But her journey as a motel owner has not been easy—her business suffered greatly during the Great Recession and Fink is still picking up the pieces. Now, with some help from a national television show and local contractors, she is hoping to revamp her vintage motel.

For 13 years, Fink used to own and operate halfway houses (also Victorian-themed) for reoccurring alcoholics and drug addicts. Fink said, however, the state began to increase their standards for halfway houses making it more expensive to maintain them. She sold the houses to Saint Mary’s and bought the Victorian Inn for $2.8 million in 2003.

“I never [owned] a hotel before,” Fink said. “But I love the location of it and the Victorian style, but the property was looking on the downside.”

Fink said her experience with the hotel business became difficult due to city construction, and a significant drop of income in 2008. It was around this time that Fink’s daughter, Marie Baker, wrote a letter to “Hotel Impossible” explaining why they should visit the troubled motel.

“I did whatever I could to keep this property because I thought the economy would come back,” Fink said. “I lived here my whole life — I’ve seen down times, but this is the longest [one I’ve seen].”

Eventually, she filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in order to restructure and eliminate debts and continue in operation. Two months later, “Hotel Impossible” contacted Fink.

When “Hotel Impossible” arrived in Sparks, the show’s producers sought out local remodeling company Reno Renovators to help out with the Victorian Inn’s fix up. Todd Smith, owner of Reno Renovators, said it was an opportunity they chose to participate for without any compensation.

“It was a fun project and very long hours, but we got it done in a lot of time,” Smith said. “I believe Marilyn was extremely happy with the outcome. Melchiorri has a lot of experience and good advice for hotels and hopefully some locals can benefit from it as well.”

Room 410 serves as at the Victorian Inn / Photo by Molly J. Moser
Room 410 serves as an ideal model for the rest of the Victorian Inn / Photo by Molly J. Moser

With the combined work of Melchiorri and Reno Renovators, one of the Victorian Inn’s rooms was completely overhauled to represent an ideal model for the rest of the motel. The renovations tidied up the room to welcome its visitor with a fresh new look while presenting a vintage vibe, including a new television, bright white cotton sheets, a table set, and floral pictures on the walls. The aroma of the recently-painted teal walls fill the room, and new carpeting even feels soft under a pair of shoes.

Fink said the “Hotel Impossible” team donated stacks of towels, sheets, washcloths, and a new washer and dryer to the Victorian Inn.  Fink and her staff are currently renovating the rest of the rooms on the gazebo side of the hotel. (There are two main parts of the Victorian Inn: one has a newly renovated lobby and a gazebo and offers nightly stays; across the street, the second part offers renting by the week.)

Although Fink is still in the Chapter 11 reorganization process, she said she hopes to bring Sparks a beautiful, clean, and safe hotel for years to come.

“It was a stressful experience, but very pleasant too,” Fink said. “It’s stressful for the fact that I didn’t know what was going to happen.”

The Victorian Inn episode of “Hotel Impossible” airs in November on Travel Channel.