Marty Roenigk's hotel boasts 140,000 visitors a year, 150 employees during the high season, and, according to local lore, dozens of ghosts. Seven years ago, Roenigk and his wife, Elise, bought the Crescent Hotel & Spa -- a Victorian mansion overlooking the quaint hamlet of Eureka Springs, Ark. -- for $1.2 million. Since then, they've spent $6 million restoring the building, which in previous lives has been a health resort, a women's college, and a cancer hospital. Now it's the place the Roenigks and their Irish setter, Aine ("Irish goddess of the moon"), call home.
A 3,000-square-foot suite on the hotel's top floor serves as residence and home office for Roenigk, who is also owner of another property (ghost-free) in town, the Basin Park Hotel, and the CEO of a security company called CompuDyne, based in Hanover, Md. But it's the Crescent Hotel's other residents that intrigue visitors. "Some people call it the most haunted hotel in the country," says Roenigk, referring to sightings of such unearthly habitues as Michael, an Irish stone setter said to have tumbled from the roof to his death in Room 218 during the hotel's construction, and a nurse from the 1930s who purportedly walks the halls pushing a dead patient atop a gurney. Other mischievous spirits have been suspected of stripping sheets from beds and locking guests in rooms. Roenigk has never seen a ghost, but a parapsychologist once told him that the penthouse was inhabited by 10 to 20 of them.
Roenigk thinks the haunting tales are in good fun -- and good for business. Ghost tours attract 60 visitors a night on weekends, and Halloween is an especially busy time. Room 218, he notes, is always booked.