Season 2 | Episode 5 | “Calumet Inn” | Aired Aug 18, 2014
When I was a little girl, I used to love to play all kinds of pretend: dress shop owner, flower store owner, toy store owner and, yes, even hotel owner. It was easy—all it took to run a successful “business” was some construction paper, crayons and a binder that made me seem important.
The latest episode of Hotel Hell sends Gordon Ramsay to Pipestone, Minnesota, to check up on the failing Calumet Inn, which is run by two spoiled sisters playing a very real-life version of the make-believe of my youth. (Psst—I think I was better at it.)
Even Gordon Ramsay agrees with me when he tells us: “This is not like playing hotel. This is real.”
Sisters Rina and Vanda Smrkovski were given the historic Calumet Inn by their daddy (Jim). In just nine short months, have they managed to run it into the ground by:
A) Sleeping until the afternoon (3 p.m.!) and not working even when they are awake
B) Running away from the hotel when things get hard—and staying away for three months (that’d be Rina)
C) Crying when things get hard (Rina again)
D) Having their mommy enable them (even though they are 29 and 32)
E) Blaming their staff for everything wrong with the hotel and making their general manager work menial jobs
F) Denying and deflecting any and all responsibility
G) All of the above?
I think by now you know what the correct answer is.
Ramsay arrives by the rear entrance (insert inappropriate joke here), and in one of my all-time favorite Hotel Hell moments, equates the experience of walking down the dark, dungeon-like hallway to a 1985 Spielberg classic:
Ramsay: I feel like a Goonie! Hey, you guyyyyys!!
General Manager Mandy greets our honorary Goonie at the front desk—after serving some customers their food in the dining room—and he is appalled that she wears so many unnecessary hats. Mandy is quickly forgotten, however (but only for a moment), because the sisters are excited to show Ramsay to his room—the “Melody of Love” suite. Don’t ask.
Bottom line? It’s no “melody”—it’s total discord. The décor is dated, the hot tub is oddly placed at the end of the bed (in the room), there’s no “wardrobe” (a closet to you and me, but in Ramsay’s world we’re all British, so just go with it), the headboard is covered in white dust, and there are mold specks in the mini-fridge. You know, the usual hell.
The restaurant doesn’t prove to be any more melodic. When the sweet waitress (Jocelyn) brings out the broccoli/cauliflower soup, both Ramsay and Jocelyn vomit a little bit in their mouth just by smelling it. When they actually dare to taste it, their reactions are enough to make me vomit in my mouth too. I mean, sure, it could be because I think pureed broccoli tastes like vomit to begin with, but I’m still siding with my man Ramsay. Vanda admits that the food they serve—in her hotel—sucks. It’s all Chef Jen’s fault.
Of course it is.
You know what this means, my Hotel Hellions? Intervention.
Ramsay calls Jen (the chef), Jocelyn (the head waitress), Mandy (the GM who isn’t allowed to do any GM-type jobs) and Rina and Vanda (the “Real Hotel Owners of Pipestone”—not really, but can’t you just see them starring on that show?) together for a powwow—Hotel Hell style.
If you’ve watched HH (or Kitchen Nightmares), you know how this goes: Everyone blames each other, Ramsay defends the hard workers, the belligerent owners are defensive, nothing gets solved and someone walks away in a huff. This time it’s our man Ramsay, who is fed up with the sisters’ spoiled attitudes. “This isn’t about you!” he shouts. I cheer.
As usual, people have heard about Ramsay’s visit (which he tells us Every. Single. Episode.) and are flocking to the Calumet Inn in hopes of getting their five seconds of fame complaining about something on camera. The restaurant is busy (which is unusual), the kitchen staff is running ragged and Rina is upstairs crying to her mommy (Rita). Rita admits that Rina always runs away when things get hard, and Ramsay tells her to GET A GRIP AND FACE THE MUSIC before stalking away.
Later, Ramsay meets with GM-who-doesn’t-get-to-be-GM Mandy and commends her hard work by saying she’s the only shining light at the hotel. Awww. And then it’s time for intervention No. 2. Let’s break it down in a three-word recap:
Ramsay compliments Mandy.
Mandy hates sisters.
Vanda doesn’t care!
Rina just cries!
Sisters “burned out.”
Staff flips out.
Mandy loses it …
“I’m [bleeping] done!”
“You stupid [bleep]!”
Mandy walks out.
Ramsay very proud.
After Mandy’s abrupt, very colorful departure, the staff loses it and starts a riot. OK, not exactly, but let’s just say that if I were Rina or Vanda, I’d be dead-bolting my doors and shoving a chair under the doorknob every night. Ramsay tells the sisters that if they were his daughters, he’d kick them out. I totally believe him. Sure, he must be gone a lot, what with practically running the FOX network single-handedly and having to judge MasterChefs and quiet Nightmares and get people out of all sorts of Hell. But I don’t doubt that he’s a great, firm, authoritative dad.
After discovering the Calumet Inn has no fitness center (Ramsay almost walked downtown in his bathrobe, but decided against it—if he’d just had on his Speedo, I’ll bet he’d have done it) and having the sisters listen to disgruntled guests complain about the usual Hotel Hell–type of infractions, Ramsay has a final come-to-Jesus talk with the girls. Vanda admits they’re not capable of running the hotel, but Rina (surprisingly dry-eyed) thinks they can succeed. Ramsay? Not so much. “I will [bleep] myself asking you to run my dog up a hill, let alone a hotel.” (I’ve rewound that part like five times and I still cannot figure out what was bleeped. Any takers?)
There’s only one person who can save this hotel: Mandy, the recently unemployed GM.
Ramsay goes to Mandy’s house and offers her complete control to come back, while further complimenting her on her mad GM skillz. She’s understandably hesitant. “DON’T DO IT, MANDY” I shout. “DON’T BE SWAYED BY THOSE BLUE EYES AND THAT SEDUCTIVE ACCENT!” She has to think about it. If he’d have been in his blue Speedo, she’d totally have caved.
Ramsay has a “proper chat” with “mum Rita” and not only discovers she cooks a mean Thai spread (that she cooks for her spoiled adult daughters seven days a week), but that she’s enabling them in other ways as well. “You want to teach them responsibility?” he asks. “Buy them a fucking goldfish.” Bam.
Later, the sisters admit they aren’t happy at the hotel and frankly, neither one of them wants to run it. Rina breaks down when Ramsay tells her to get the hell out (OK, he doesn’t say it that harshly, but you know it’s what he was thinking) and tells him that she’s wanted to leave so badly for so long, but has just been afraid to say it.
Dr. Gordon Ramsay—once again saving hotels and lives.
With the decision made to let Mandy return as a true general manager, and for Rina and Vanda to go do “creative things” in Minneapolis (God forbid it’s designing notebook covers), the Calumet Inn gets the 24-hour Hotel Hell makeover: The rooms are now bright, clean and complete with narrow “wardrobes” that will house at least three hanging items; there is a privacy curtain around the hot tub; the restaurant has a shortened menu with mommy Rita’s Thai selections incorporated into it; and one of the rooms has been reconfigured into a small fitness center.
Everyone is happy with the new hotel, but happier when Ramsay shoos Rina and Vanda out the door ASAP after the relaunch, with baggies of goldfish to (try to) take care of.
I’m gonna go out on a limb and predict the new Calumet Inn (under the care of Mandy) will long outlive those fish.
Hotel Hell airs Mondays at 9/8C on FOX.