Clarion Pointe open house to wow guests

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Renovated space brings modern cleanness for travelers

  • The lobby of the newly-renovated Clarion Pointe hotel displays a mural of scenes from around Sulphur Springs and art from area artists. Anyone interested can see the hotel’s accommodations person on Thursday at the hotel’s open house. Staff photo by Taylor Nye
    The lobby of the newly-renovated Clarion Pointe hotel displays a mural of scenes from around Sulphur Springs and art from area artists. Anyone interested can see the hotel’s accommodations person on Thursday at the hotel’s open house. Staff photo by Taylor Nye
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On Thursday, May 30, the newly refurbished Clarion Pointe hotel at 411 East Industrial Drive in Sulphur Springs is hosting an open house to show off the hard work that has gone into the complete renovation and rebranding of the lodgings.

The Helm Hotel Group purchased the property, formerly known as the Holiday Inn Express, in 2018. In charge of its management and update is owner Charles Helm of Sulphur Springs.

Renovations to convert the space into a Clarion Pointe hotel have topped $1.2 million, Helm said. The rooms are completely redone, according to Helm, from the lighting to the carpets and what he refers to as soft goods, including chairs, couches and mattresses.

The visitor may be surprised to learn the professional decorating was the handiwork not of a big-city design firm, but of none other than Helm’s wife stocking feet and a blaze of white on the face.

Ten horses travel on each team, eight in harness and two alternates, accompanied by professional handlers who provide round-the-clock care for the horses. Hitches travel in three 50-foot semis. The horses travel in two trucks, and a third transports equipment, including the red, white and gold beer wagon. The horses’ trailers have “air-cushioned suspension and thick rubber flooring,” and cameras in the trailers enable the drivers to watch the horses during transport. The team stops each night at local stables.

Each hitch horse consumes up to 20-25 quarts of whole grains, minerals and vitamins, 50 to 60 pounds of hay and 30 gallons of water per day.

Driving the combined 12 tons of wagon and horses requires expert skill and physical strength, and hitch drivers go through a lengthy training process. The 40 pounds of lines held by the driver plus the tension of the horses pulling creates a weight of over 75 pounds.

Since the 1950s, an obedience-trained Dalmatian “coach dog” accompanies each hitch. Historically, the dogs provided companionship to the horses, guarded the wagon and protected the team while the driver went inside buildings to make deliveries. Today, the dog sits on the wagon next to the driver during performances.