Rose Halsey wanted her family to spend their recent vacation in Glacier and Waterton parks.
Following advice from the Whitefish Chamber of Commerce, the Long Island, N.Y., first-grade teacher made a toll-free call to Emily “Dixie” Fasanello in Sandpoint. Four weeks later, when the Halseys came West for a 10-day trip, virtually every detail was in place.
Fasanello directed them to a Whitefish Ford agency where they could rent a car without paying mileage. The family wanted accommodations other than an ordinary motel, so she found them log cabins.
She sent them to Alpine Stables in Waterton Lakes Park where their 4-year-old daughter was not too young to ride.
“Everything was wonderful,” Halsey said later. “The stables were fantastic, the horses were great. … If it hadn’t been for Emily, I would have been like a blind person.”
Fasanello offers clients a hassle-free vacation planner. Her two 800 numbers are listed through the Idaho and Montana Travel Council, local chambers of commerce and phone directories under “Central Reservations.”
“My motto is ‘Just one call,”’ says Fasanello, whose own love for travel was inspired by childhood trips around the Western United States with her family.
From her desk in Sandpoint, Fasanello scouts out the best vacation deals in the Idaho Panhandle and Western Montana’s Flathead Valley for clients from all over the United States.
She saves them time and money, and, as Rose Halsey attests, “works her tail off” arranging the best possible experience for individual needs.
The service covers Sandpoint, Coeur d’Alene, the Silver Valley, Whitefish and the Flathead Valley. Clients’ requests range from one-night family stays to full-fledged conventions.
Before offering recommendations, Fasanello does her homework, asking motel managers to show her a variety of rooms and even checks out horses at riding establishments to see that they’re in top condition.
Horse hooves at Roley and Janice Schoonover’s Western Pleasure Guest Ranch, 16 miles northeast of Sandpoint, have passed Fasanello’s inspection. And the Schoonovers are delighted with the lady they know as “Dixie.”
“She’s done a wonderful job for us,” Roley Schoonover said. It’s important that their six-room log lodge and individual cabins are represented accurately, he said, “so we don’t have people who show up unhappy because it wasn’t what they thought it would be.”
In their case, potential visitors need to know they’ll be driving a long way over a dirt road and to expect a family-run operation off the beaten path. “We’re not a motel that you just drive into and whip right out of,” he said.
Bed-and-breakfast owner Marilyn Kamp appreciates the certainty that comes with Fasanello’s bookings, which make up about 25 percent of her business at The Page House in Sandpoint. “She does the sales job for you,” Kamp said. “People always arrive looking forward to their stay,”
Fasanello started her business four years ago after working at the Sandpoint Chamber of Commerce. “You were really limited to the information you could give,” she recalled, adding that she wanted give callers more specific travel advice.
Fasanello also puts together packages with tickets to special events such as the Festival at Sandpoint and the Idaho State Draft Horse International Show. This winter she’ll have a complete listing of ski accommodations available throughout the area.
Although she has most information already at hand when talking to clients, Fasanello views herself as a shopper who helps people wth plan trips and stay within their travel budget.
To contact Central Reservations, call 1-800-876-8921 for Sandpoint, Coeur d’Alene and Silver Valley, or 1-800-342-9203 for Whitefish and the Flathead Valley.