We spent a Saturday night at the Lodge in the off-season, for a one-night getaway with friends. We stayed in a king suite as part of the "Bed and Breakfast" package, which included two breakfast entrees or their reasonably substantial buffet -- including gratuity.
Our first impression was excellent: Arriving in the mid-afternoon, we found the lobby bathed in sunlight from the floor-to-ceiling windows. The architecture is impressive, giving a modern "lodge" feel without any overly rustic kitsch. Our room wasn't ready when we arrived (two hours before the official check-in time), but a half-hour later we got our keys.
The king suite was nicely sized, with a hide-a-bed couch, armchair, rocking chair, desk, and TV in the living-room area, a small, four-seat dining table, and a tiny "kitchenette" which was really just a microwave, dorm fridge, and single-cup Kuerig coffee maker. (It was stocked with two full-caff brews, one decaf, and one green tea; additional k-cups were available in the gift shop for $2 (!) apiece. These k-cups were, I suspect, long expired, as both the coffee and tea tasted awful.) A small selection of dishes were stocked, including mugs but oddly not including glasses of any kind. Bring your own wine glasses or plan to buy them there...or order a glass in the bar and take it to your room.
The four-poster bed was in a separate room, with another flat-screen TV. The bathroom was off this room, and was the standard motel style (shower/tub combo with plastic liner). As an added bonus, an additional sink and vanity were situated outside the bathroom.
The suite had two balconies, one off each room, both equipped with two vinyl-strap chairs and a small glass-topped table. This was Room 226 -- fairly close to the lobby and central hub of the property -- and afforded a view of the outdoor pool, a fairly spacious park, and the lake (viewed at an angle). Given the choice I would probably pick an odd-numbered room in the high 220s next time, for a slightly better view of the lake.
Sounds pretty decent, right? Well, "decent" is exactly the word for it. The space was adequate but entirely underwhelming. I don't know who the Lodge got to do their interior decorating, but they need to fire that person. The rooms are utterly devoid of warmth, with a style that resembles a mid-level medical specialist's waiting room. Only fake potted plants would have completed the illusion, but thankfully these were nowhere to be found.
The couch was overly firm due to the hide-a-bed, and neither the armchair nor the rocking chair were comfortable enough to want to spend much time in. The dining table was an excellent addition, considering we had plans to play board games with the other couple we were traveling with...until we discovered the almost entire lack of light in the kitchen/dining area; only a small wall sconce added any illumination. If you plan to use the table, plan to move one of the table lamps into the area, or plan to eat in the dark.
Moving to the bedroom, we found a mattress that was somewhat lumpy and uncomfortable -- clearly coming to the end of its usable life. (One amusing thing: The bed is unusually high...so the hotel has thoughtfully provided small steps on each side.) Bed linens were adequate but unremarkable.
As for the bathroom, I have to say I expected more than a room that could have been transplanted from a Red Roof Inn. Not that there was anything particularly wrong with it (well, aside from a slightly malfunctioning shower head, which I'm sure maintenance would have replaced if we asked). It was just surprisingly spartan for one of the nicest rooms in this relatively expensive hotel. As for the towels: ouch. I suspected that with a little ingenuity I could have gotten mine to stand up on its own, as it was incredibly stiff and rough.
It was similarly surprising to return to the lobby in the evening. The soaring space, comfortable chairs and couches, and cozy-looking stone fireplace were drenched in the corpsifying light of high-powered compact fluorescent bulbs. A space that was warm, inviting, and charming in the daytime was turned into an aseptic house of horrifying skin pallor at night. I recognize that CFLs are more energy efficient, but you know what would be even more energy efficient? Not having super-high-powered CFLs blaring off the three-story ceiling at all.
By now I'm sure you're wondering why I'm giving the property four stars. There are a few reasons. First: dinner. We started out in the lounge (which is also in bad need of a new decorator, but I'll get off that) and had a wonderful server bring us very reasonably-priced -- and very large -- drinks. After we'd finished a round, he facilitated a smooth transfer into the restaurant, where we had a wonderful meal next to the fireplace.
The food was almost universally excellent. My and my wife's steaks were cooked perfectly to order. She loved the garlic mashed potatoes that came with mine, and I went crazy for the crispy skin-on potatoes that came with hers, so we switched. A starter of "popcorn walleye" was light and fresh-tasting, with an excellent sauce. We only had two complaints: The tasty dinner rolls were unevenly warmed, ranging from ice-cold to lukewarm in a single roll. And the tortilla chips that came with the queso dip were the kind of bright-yellow rounds you find at the grocery store in clear bags with the store logos on them. Aside from these two minor issues, dinner was simply outstanding—and very reasonably priced for the amount of food and drink and the quality and attentiveness of the server.
Breakfast wasn't quite as outstanding, but then, we got the buffet -- along with just about everyone else in the joint. The eggs were fluffy, the bacon crisp, and the sausage tender. We sampled some French toast and some pastries, and all were good if not exceptional. But our service was friendly and reasonably prompt, given the packed room.
Had our only experience with the Lodge been our room, this would be a three-star review, easily. But add in the top-quality meals and the excellent service we got at every turn, and the place edges into four-star territory -- if only just.
This is a place I'd return to, but only if the price is right. We went on a Saturday during the off-season, and paid what I'd consider a pretty reasonable two hundred (including tax) for the suite and breakfast. If those prices go up substantially as the weather warms (as I strongly suspect they do), it becomes a situation where you're not quite getting what you pay for. Some smart decorating choices could change that situation easily...but as it is now, I'd be very careful to check rates before returning.
If you want the best lake view, ask for a room in the north wing -- especially the high 20s or low 3...
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC