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“Oh, So Very Isolated”
Review of Thunder Bay Resort

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Thunder Bay Resort
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Hillman
Certificate of Excellence
Terre Haute, Indiana
Level 6 Contributor
376 reviews
116 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 229 helpful votes
“Oh, So Very Isolated”
Reviewed 24 December 2013

When I walked into my room, I was surprised to find that this could be someone's home. There were two beds, a night stand, chest of drawers, and LARGE flat-screen tv in the first room. The second room had a small refrigerator, microwave, coffee maker, and a wall of kitchen cabinets. Opposite that was a room with a bathtub; then beside that wasanother room with a half-bath.

Continuing on, was a full-size living/dining room: A table with four chairs, a sofa bed, two recliners, another television and a murphy bed in the 'closet.' The resort was designed for golfers who want their own bed. Any foursome would be quite comfortable staying here.

The room 130 offered free wi-fi. It was a 5-minute walk to the lobby, golf shop, gift shop, and breakfast area, but they will come and pick you up if you call.

The highlight of the stay was a 45-minute ride through the woods on a horse-drawn wagon to dinner. It was misting snow which really set the mood for the five-course dinner at the cabin. We stopped en-route to see elk which are owned by the resort owners.

Breakfast was from a menu; food was very good. For those who don't want to walk to the restaurant, you can call for pick-up service; also there is a short cut through the woods.

  • Stayed December 2013, travelled solo
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Helpful?
2 Thank jwjwjwjw1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
JackMatthiasTBResort, Owner at Thunder Bay Resort, responded to this review, 30 July 2014
Thank-you for your nice review. Yes we are isolated. Hillman is a very small town - about 700 people - located about an hour East of Gaylord and 1/2 hour West of Alpena. I get teased a lot about missing the day in class when they talked about the importance of "Location, Location, Location." But it sounds like it was worth your time to travel from Indiana and we are glad you came and had a good time. We have been blessed with a beautiful 400 acre parcel to work with and sometimes there are advantages to being "so very isolated." Thanks again for your kind words!
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186 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
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  • Sleep Quality
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Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (42)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Bay City, Michigan
Level 2 Contributor
6 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed 13 October 2013

We did a fall color tour here for the elk viewing carriage ride and it was fantastic! This is the 6th time that I have brought my group here (52 people) and it never fails to be a huge success! In the past we've stay overnight in their nice, roomy lodging but this trip was just a one day tour. From the minute we arrived and were warmly greeted by owner Jack Mathias everything was perfect. The carriage ride through the woods was very pretty and the narrative about the elk is so informative but getting to see those majestic elk so close-up is really thrilling. Everyone got great pictures! The fabulous meal at the beautiful lodge in the woods is truly a highlight of this tour. From the appetizer (shrimp cocktail w/ apple & pear tart), chicken soup, sweet Napa salad, crown roast of pork w/ roasted red potatoes to the delicious dessert pizzelles filled with white chocolate mousse and a raspberry/ white chocolate topping, you'll savor every bite. Also served with the meal is Michigan cherry coffee plus appetizer, dinner & dessert wines with each coarse.
Owners Jack & Jan Mathias share their story throughout the meal and provide a very memorable experience. My group had such a great time they did not want to leave!

  • Stayed October 2013, travelled with friends
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Helpful?
1 Thank Karen L S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
JackMatthiasTBResort, Owner at Thunder Bay Resort, responded to this review, 26 October 2013
Thank-you Karen for the kind words. And thank you for coming back again and again - 6 times! 52 people is a full motor coach and that is typically a sign that you run great tours and that you and we have had great word of mouth from your past guests. We look forward to seeing you again. Thanks.
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Dearborn Heights, Michigan
Level 1 Contributor
4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed 11 October 2013

Very old furnishing nothing matched. Outdated Old tv's ,couches,bedspreads. Paint chipped on the walls. Railing busted going up to the second floor. Very steep see thru stairs. Won't be back needs to brought into the 2013 's

  • Stayed October 2013
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Helpful?
3 Thank Mysierowicz
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
JackMatthiasTBResort, Owner at Thunder Bay Resort, responded to this review, 26 October 2013
This review is pretty harsh. For example, the "broken railing" is one of about 50 largely decorative 1 1/2" by 1 1/2" spindles on one flight of stairs. It was cracked - broken but still in place. No impact on the strength or integrity or safety of the stairway at all. In terms of steepness - the stairs meet or exceed code and have sturdy railings on both sides of the steps. Our Suites, Villas and Chalets are like small apartments. 60% are on the first floor and have 3 or 4 steps leading up to the outside decks. There are 2 barrier free units that have ramps instead of stairs. 40% of the suites and villas are on the second floor and require walking up a flight of stairs. Our Chalets are two story with 2 of 3 bedrooms upstairs. Guests who are unwilling or unable to walk a flight of stairs may request a first floor unit. There is a covered stairway as well on each of the buildings and the only time a person would need to use the open stairway is if they are renting a lock-off portion of a larger unit or wish to exit on the golf course side of their unit. These locked off units are most frequently used with group tours and motor coaches were some guest are looking for a single - hotel room like unit. With group tours luggage is carried up upon arrival and down upon departure by managers and housekeeping staff. These stairs are closed off in winter.
With regard to the other comments - we like many US businesses have been denied credit by lenders over the last 5 - 6 years in spite of an excellent payment history over the last 42 years. So there are things that we would like to replace and upgrade and are doing so as revenues permit. But travel revenues have been affected by the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, and Michigan has been hit harder then most. The rooms are very clean, they are comfortable and most things do match but are dated. Some TVs have been replaced this summer as funding permits and we hope to have the rest replaced by late spring. We have just completed a great new WiFi system for Suites and Villas with lots of bandwidth. It's FREE and is tied to Fiber Optic Cable. You will be able to access your Netflix subscription, upload pictures and communicate with friends and family. Paint chipping is minor and is touched up as it occurs.
You can not please everyone - but check the reviews before and after this one to put things in perspective. The reason most of our guests come here is to do the Elk Viewing, Carriage and Sleigh Ride Gourmet Dinners and Wine Tastings - which are world class. Or to play golf, our golf course isn't on anyone's top 100 nationally lists, but is challenging, well cared for, very pretty and good value.
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Brighton, Michigan
Level 6 Contributor
115 reviews
17 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 55 helpful votes
Reviewed 6 October 2013

Used a Groupon to book a two night stay. Was very surprised with the fantastic layout of the suites. The owner said they were gaging for groups that would bring a golf group and all would want their own bed. They provided 2 queen beds, a pull down queen murphy bed plus a pull out couch. This with a kitchen area that includes a fridge/freezer and microwave. Lots of space and great views. So very quiet and restful. We walked the grounds and saw a handful of deer and the elk that are on the nearby preserve. Didn't take the dinner/carriage ride but heard great things from folks that did. I look forward to returning. Had one concern over some mold on the bath area but reported it and am sure it will be addressed.

  • Stayed October 2013, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
2 Thank nah1963
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
JackMatthiasTBResort, Owner at Thunder Bay Resort, responded to this review, 30 July 2014
Thank-you,
I'm glad you enjoyed your stay in one of our Suites. They are quite large and comfortable. The next size up are our two bedroom, two bath Villas with a shared living, dinning room, and our largest units are our 3 bedroom, two bath Chalets. So we can easily accommodate a family or group of friends sharing a unit - which will be your best value.
I hope you will get a chance to return and do our Elk Viewing, Carriage/Sleigh Ride Dinner and Wine Tasting. It is by far the best thing we do and totally unique in the Eastern half of the country.
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Auburn Hills, Michigan
Level 5 Contributor
51 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 22 helpful votes
Reviewed 4 October 2013

I traveled with a group (about 50) of people, we were all impressed with the resort, the grounds, and the elk viewing. The dinner at the cabin in the woods was very good not to mention 5 courses. We had wine with the meal and several different samples of wine to go with the appetizer course and the dessert course.
The rooms were very clean and very comfortable. The golf course was beautiful-I don't play golf but there were several people on the course playing while we were there. I would recommend this resort.

Room Tip: The suites are very large and really nice.
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  • Stayed October 2013, travelled with friends
    • Value
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Helpful?
2 Thank dkitchen794
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
JackMatthiasTBResort, Owner at Thunder Bay Resort, responded to this review, 30 July 2014
Thank-you for your kind review. Sounds like you were on a Group Tour - Motorcoach visit. Group Tours are an important part of our business and we draw groups from about 20 Eastern and Midwestern states. Almost without exception they are coming to do our Elk Viewing, Carriage Ride Dinner and Wine Tasting.
Often they are continuing on to or from Mackinac Island, Frankenmuth or The Henry Ford, and include stops at Lighthouses, Wineries and other attractions along the way.
We often include stops in nearby Alpena at the NOAA Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuaries interpretive center - The Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center - which can be combines with a glass bottomed "Ship Wreck Boat Tour." There are about 200 ship wrecks include in the Sanctuary.
The Besser Planetarium and Museum is another extremely well done attraction that gets great reviews.
So there is lots to do and see in our area. And it is a pretty nice way to travel - leave the driving and planning to someone else.
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Lansing, Michigan
Level 2 Contributor
8 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
Reviewed 20 September 2013

Was on a business trip. Room had a front deck so could sit outside. That was nice. Room was very clean. Very outdated but comfortable and clean. My co-worker locked herself out of her room very early in the morning (she was still in her pj's). Someone came and got her in her room in just a few minutes. Was very impressed with the fast service as we were way back in the woods.

Ate in their golf course restaurant - food was ok, but service was lousy. The waitress was not very pleasant. She may of been the only one working, but didn't appear to be many customers. Service needs improvement.

  • Stayed September 2013, travelled on business
    • Value
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Helpful?
1 Thank Robyn704
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
JackMatthiasTBResort, Owner at Thunder Bay Resort, responded to this review, 21 September 2013
Thank - you for the 4 stars in spite of your disappointment. I am very sorry to hear that your server was not appropriate. Looks like we have a serious training issue to deal with - with one of our staff. If you recall the name please call the Resort at 800-729-9375 and ask for Jack. I hate to see a comment like this, one of our strongest points is that almost without exception we have wonderful staff. It is one of the most frequent compliments we get and we work hard at it. We can't pay them what we would like to under current economic conditions and benefits are few but we try and make it a fun place to work and we treat them like family. What we expect in return is that they smile and treat our guests as they are treated.
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Cheboygan, Michigan
Level 5 Contributor
88 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 51 helpful votes
Reviewed 9 September 2013

We were promised by phone if we brought new people, that they could take advantage of a Pure Michigan deal, as long as we printed the deal out. We wanted to go on two weekends during the promotional period, but they wanted to save room for Mystery weekend participants. We graciously allowed them to do that, and just contacted them to see if there was any room for 4 new people on the promotion,, and two returning people. Both weekends filled, and we were assured we could still use the promotion, even though expiring, for our new guests, the next season. So we printed out the deal as instructed. Then we anxiously waited for 6 months to reschedule in their new season. When we called to do this, we were not handled at all politely by phone, and told flat out no way. How sad. I wrote two emails to the owners, one from their website, and one from another site, and neither was responded to by the owners Jan or Jack Mathias. I am extremely disappointed in this lack of communication and distrust of potential customers. We loved our first visit, and were proponents of the experience, but now we are thinking that there are many other options up north to view wildlife and enjoy good food, without feeling like we are being squeezed out of every dollar possible. Unless you don't care about your tourist dollars, skip going here. Otherwise, it is a nice experience.

  • Stayed September 2013, travelled with friends
    • Value
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Helpful?
3 Thank soub7
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Thunder Bay Resort

Property: Thunder Bay Resort
Address: 27800 M 32 W, Hillman, MI 49746-8674
Phone Number:
Region: United States > Michigan > Hillman
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Kitchenette Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Suites Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Hillman
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): ££
Hotel Class:2.5 star — Thunder Bay Resort 2.5*
Number of rooms: 34
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Resting on over 400 acres of Northern Michigan's stunning landscape, Thunder Bay Resort is the perfect retreat for your weekend escape! Complete with a state-of-the-art, Full-Service RV park, Deluxe Lodging poised on our pristine 18-hole golf course and a 160 acre Elk preserve, Thunder Bay Resort is truly a destination for all seasons. Enjoy the outdoors? Then take advantage of the amenities hosted by Thunder Bay Resort including snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, biking, hiking, horseshoes, and the Resort's award-winning, signature Elk Viewing Carriage Ride, Gourmet Dinner & Wine Tasting Event! ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Thunder Bay Hotel Hillman

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