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“What a disaster”

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Stout's Island Lodge
Ranked #1 of 3 Birchwood B&B and Inns
Certificate of Excellence
Hudson, Wisconsin
Level 3 Contributor
15 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 26 helpful votes
“What a disaster”
Reviewed 9 February 2013

If you're thinking of visiting Stouts Island Lodge, you may want to seriously reconsider. It is not my habit to write such scathing reviews, but in this case it is definitely warranted. My husband and I couldn't wait to leave as our experience got progressively worse over a 2-day period in late August 2012. Read on:

PROPERTY MANAGEMENT & SAFETY -- We couldn't help but notice during our first afternoon of checking in and exploring the island that there didn't seem to be any manager around with an ounce of authority. The whole place appeared to be run by young, college-aged kids. Nice kids, certainly, but unseasoned. There was an air of nonchalance about the place that made us uneasy from the onset of our stay.

It all started with the missing bedpost finial in the room we paid a hefty nightly rate for (Allison's cabin). When we went to the office to report it, the young 20 something "manager" exclaimed "Oh, I checked with housekeeping and they said it's been missing for a while."

Then there were the 2-foot tall weeds growing in the gutter next to the main entrance. It would have taken me five minutes to get a stepladder and yank them out myself.

For two days the same broken wine glass stood at the top of the fire pit stairs, jagged edges upright, shards nestled inside, just waiting for someone to trip or fall on in the dark (the lighting is poor at night). There was broken glass on the flagstone surface around the fire pit as well. We finally took it upon ourselves to pick up the wine glass and take it to the office. It was becoming obvious that the staff wasn't going to do it. The same young "manager" took the glass and clucked "Tsk, tsk! Those boys!" Sounds like "those boys" have a bit of a reputation for not doing their jobs. Also sounded to me like a lawsuit just waiting to happen.

There is no apparent way to lock up your valuables. If you ask for a room key you'll be told they don't give them out. Sorry to burst your delusional Mayberry RFD, Island of Happy Days bubble there, Stouts, but get real. Any island guest, staff member, or sneaky boater could just waltz right into your room and have a field day while you're out having a swim. We've had stuff stolen from the most unlikely remote locations. Sad but true -- thieves exist everywhere.

Don't expect to be able to play a decent game of pool or ping pong in the boathouse game room. The pool table's faded, natty baize cloth looks like it hasn't been replaced in 20 years. The ping pong table was so battered I felt sorry for the poor old thing.

RESTAURANT - DINNER -- While the quality of the food was up to par, the wait staff was appallingly inexperienced for a number of reasons I won't bore you with here. The dining room was completely out of club soda both nights of our stay. On the second night when we asked for Perrier or San Pellegrino as an alternative, the waiter informed us the restaurant didn't stock either one. My husband had to inform the waiter that he saw sparkling water available for guest purchase in the office refrigerator earlier that day. The waiter just stood there looking baffled until we asked him if he would kindly go to the office and get a bottle.

At one point a fellow guest and I compared stories about how bad the service was. She complained that her server didn't bother to make her aware of the dinner special. She overheard it being offered to guests at another table, but by then it was too late -- she had already finished her entree. She would have preferred the special!

RESTAURANT - BREAKFAST -- The "complimentary" breakfast food was sparse and the quality absolutely dreadful, as was the service. Each morning I had to ask for the OJ and coffee carafes to be refilled, and once had to get up and find someone to set our table. On our second and thankfully final morning I overheard a small child from the next table ask "Daddy, why is it taking so long for you to get your jelly?" Even the little kids noticed.

FERRY -- The ferry did not run on time as promised, either on the hour from the mainland or 10 minutes to the hour from the island. Unfortunately my husband was not feeling well (what he thought was the onset of hay fever turned out to be a full-blown cold). After a trip to the drug store he was kept waiting on the mainland for 20 minutes while "those boys" stood around waiting for a delivery of something or other. Probably the club soda that never arrived. Nor could "those boys" be found anywhere near the boathouse at 8:50am one morning so my husband could get back to the mainland for another trip to the drug store. He gave up and waited another hour.

STAFF AFTER HOURS -- Here's the most horrendous part of my story and what was to become the absolute last straw. After a fun evening of sitting around the fire and talking with the other guests, we went back to our room to relax and get some sleep. I snuggled into bed at about 11:00pm to read for a while, turned out the light at about 11:30pm hoping to be lulled to sleep by the gentle lapping of the waves and perhaps some distant loon calls, when all of a sudden I heard LOUD, DRUNKEN HOOTING AND HOLLERING from the lawn below. I distinctly heard two female and two male voices so loud I could easily make out two of their names (DAVID!! ALEX!!) at decibels completely inappropriate for a resort that advertises itself as having "stylish quietude". I was damned if I was going to get out of bed and hand-crank 20 screen windows shut, so I laid there hoping the racket would eventually cease. (Meanwhile, my husband was out cold in a Nyquil-induced sleep, which only added to my frustration.) Eventually I heard this little group tramp down the hill to the boat house and start up a boat engine. Well, what do you know. The only boats I'm aware of that are allowed access to the main dock are affiliated with the lodge. As the boat took off over the water I thought to myself "Hallelujah! They're leaving!" Fat chance. They simply found a spot nearby to hang out, splash around in the water and scream, hoot and holler some more: YEEEEAAAHHHH!!! HAA HAA!! DAVID!! BBLAAAHHHH!! HAA HAA HAA!! ALEX!! BLLAAHH BLLAAHH BLLAAHH BLAAAHHH WOOO HOOOO HOOO!!" By 1:00am I'd had it. I was absolutely furious. After an hour and a half of listening to these obnoxious morons, I called the night manager. A very young sounding female voice answered and said "Wha'? Huh? I don't hear anything. The air conditioner is on. Well, OK, I guess I'll go out and see what's going on." A few minutes later I heard giggling girls running up and down the screened-in walkway between the main lodge rooms, then a door slamming, then . . . blissful peace and quiet. But it didn't matter. It's 1:15am. I'm wide awake. I'm still furious. I honestly don't think I got more than 4 hours of sleep that night.

The next morning I went to have a little chat with the 20-something "manager". She tried to skirt the issue, but I got out of her what I wanted to know: that this "David and Alex" were in fact somehow affiliated with Stouts Island Lodge and W.A. Frost. When I asked her to report it to management she said "If anything is said to those guys about it they'll just deny it."

As I sat in the dining room that morning, still steaming and having my last, lousy breakfast, I overheard an older man talking with a woman from the kitchen about someone named "Alex". Then, lo and behold, a hung-over looking, bedraggled young Alex appeared, said something briefly to the couple and left the room.

Never in my life have I had such a rotten experience anywhere in my 30 years of traveling the U.S. and abroad.

  • Stayed August 2012, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
18 Thank tczuprynski
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Island_of_Happy_Days, Manager at Stout's Island Lodge, responded to this review, 2 July 2013
Dear tczuprynski,

Thank you for taking the time to give us feedback about your visit. I am sorry to hear that your experience was not up to your, or our, standards. We sincerely hope you will give us a chance to make up for your experience. We have a completely different management team in place and we have changed and educated staff where necessary, among other improvements. We have also started the process of getting keys for all of our rooms--old skeleton keys won't do it, so we are custom fitting new locks on each door. If you would be so kind as to give us another chance, please contact myself or Stephanie, our General Manager, to make special arrangements.

Thank you again for taking the time to provide us feedback so that we may improve.

Sincerely,

Emily
Stout's Island Lodge Manager
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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254 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
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Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (106)
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English first
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Level 3 Contributor
20 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
Reviewed 27 January 2013

An exquisite, charming escape... An hour's drive from Taylor's Falls, we took the boat from shore (outside of charmless Rice Lake) and traveled back through time until you reach the charmingly crumbling boat house, climb a flight of steps, and find one of the prettiest Adirondack-style lodges I've ever seen. My husband, toddler, and I traveled with another couple and their daughter had come to spend two nights at Stout's Lodge. We adored it, from the crumbling structure's at the water's edge to the kind staff to the lovely accommodation and delightful old-world vibe. We found the clay court to be delightful (though it was autumn and too cold to play), the box of raquets handy, the canoes lovely, the chairs charming, the firepit marvelous... Full of charm and delight, all of it.
The food was actually great and (I thought) reasonable compared with other good rustic resorts like Naniboujou, the bar/main room stocked with mystery novels, a piano, and a grand fireplace. The room had a fridge (not stocked with expensive mini-bar junk, thankfully) that we used for snacks and milk, so you can easily have a sandwich for lunch. We loved the cubby-bed built into the wall of our room--I wish we had a bed at home like that for our little one. The hike is pretty but short (maybe an hour), perfect for families but not great for hard-core Superior Trail addicts.
Honesty, I'm shocked that anyone who wants a romantic rustic retreat wouldn't adore this place. We were just sad that it wasn't open all year round--but how wonderful that it isn't, really. A lovely summer escape, nice and close to the Twin Cities (especially with a visit to Taylor's Falls built in to break up the journey). We loved it and plan to get some friends together to visit annually. FYI, our room did have a key... some of the old rooms in the lodge might not but it would be well-worth staying in this lovely spaces.

Room Tip: The lodge is incredibly beautiful and old-world, but the modern cabins are more spacious and private...
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  • Stayed September 2012, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank KatyMike
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Island_of_Happy_Days, Manager at Stout's Island Lodge, responded to this review, 2 July 2013
Dear KatyMike,

Thank you so much for your feedback. We are so happy to hear that you enjoyed your stay and found Stout's Island as charmingly rustic as we do. It is certainly a unique experience, I am sure you would agree. We are glad you enjoyed the window-bed for you young one-we can recommend a carpenter, if you are interested in remodeling. ;)

We hope to see you again soon!

Sincerely,

Stout's Island Lodge Management Team
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Florida
Level 6 Contributor
115 reviews
51 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 114 helpful votes
Reviewed 13 October 2012

We decided to give this resort a try based on an article in Midwest Living. We shared a duplex cabin with some friends. Rooms were OK but carpets were waterstained, no air conditioning only a very noisy humidifier. There was a notice in our room, placed underneath the coffee pot and therefore not clearly visible upon entry, indicating that the water in the room was NOT SAFE TO DRINK... a fact that the staff failed to mention upon check-in. Only found the note by accident AFTER drinking some water. The whole property is in shabby condition. The buildings are in desperate need of repair. The so-called boat house rec room is a disaster... dirty with over worn furniture and even a beer bottle left on the table. Would not even think of using the old torn life vests or poorly maintained kayaks. Lounge area is so dark that one cannot even read a book in there. The gazebo on the hiking trail is likewise a dirty mess. There have been some nice improvements to the waterfront area and there is a nice firepit for relaxing after dark. The staff tries to be pleasant but there are too few and they are expected to do too many different jobs. Breakfast was the quality of Super 8... limited selection of cold cereals, bread to toast, hard boiled eggs... not even a muffin or pastry to be found let alone an omelet, pancake, or french toast. Not exactly what one expects at a top notch resort. Evening fare was quite good but overpriced and service is spotty. This could be a really beautiful resort. Right now, however, it doesn't match up to similar resorts in the area. Their demand for a full 50% deposit up front is also out of line. Do not recommend.

  • Stayed September 2012, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
6 Thank Kamainatraveler
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Minneapolis, MN
Level 3 Contributor
14 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
Reviewed 8 October 2012

The Stout's island Lodge could become (and maybe it was in its day) an exquisite destination weekend getaway, but first they have some problems to address. If I owned this hotel, I would invest in management to start to get things in order. Although some of the rooms and cabins are lovely, the overall appearance including on arrival is a run-down lodge that was probably in its peak about 20-30 years ago. Trash, unsafe structures, unfinished building materials throughout. It's sad because it could be lovely. The lodge has amazing features including hand-carved beamed ceilings and amazing views of Red Cedar Lake both north and south. Our room (3) was evidently designed to be reminiscent of the Victoria era, but it really didn't fit the lodge. The bathroom needed about $2-5000 of upgrading, or at least a $1000 for the bedroom and bathroom to be close to what should cost $200 per night. We had to unscrew exterior entrance light bulbs that were shining brightly through old plastic Venetian blinds, until we found the switch down the hallway from our room the next day. About the food. "Just okay" is a good description. Of the 2 lunches and 2 dinners, we had one very good course - the trout dinner and all the salads were good but $12.00 for a salad-plate portion of lettuce, a few slices of apples, nuts, and about a tablespoon of goat cheese? The $8.00 bowl of soup came with nothing, not even a garnish to offset a very think, heavy, dark tomato soup. I tasted like a tomato sauce I would use for making a marinara sauce. At no meals were there any salt or pepper shakers on the table. I asked for pepper, (and mistakenly didn't include salt in my request) - I got the pepper but no salt. I was told there was no bread in the kitchen to have with the soup so was given 3 packages of very very stall soda crackers. Uneatable. The bison burger my spouse had was much better. The 6 bagette slices of crostini with bruchetta cost $11.00 before tax and tip. We arrived at breakfast at 9:45 a.m. during the posted hours of 7:00 a.m. - 10:00 a.n. on Sunday morning, but the server in the dining room, acknowledging the time being 9:45 a.m. had cleared every bit of breakfast from the buffet (cold cereals, yogurt with aspartame, white and wheat bread to toast, processed peanut butter with sugar, jelly, butter, orange juice, milk, and coffee). She said she had to clear it to get set up for lunch. She asked what we wanted and put some hard boiled eggs and bread into a take-out container, and didn't offer any cups for tea or coffee. We used the glasses on the tables already set for lunch. When we arrived for lunch around noon there was one other table with guests. The croquet set, one of the posted activities, had been left out in the rain, including the previously soggy and now crunchy directions, and had only 6 of the 9 required wickets. Etc etc. I've never written such a long review, and I could go on. It's a beautiful facility that needs serious attention and investment to restore its grandeur. Overall, there was a sense that there is no overseeing management of this lodge nor were they in this lodge during our two-night stay. The bar attendant and the evening male servers provided top rate service.

Room Tip: Room 3 has a lovely fireplace which we used all weekend. Bring blinders for sleeping as the two 60...
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  • Stayed October 2012, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
4 Thank chefseye
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Saint Paul, Minnesota
Level 3 Contributor
19 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
Reviewed 5 October 2012

My wife and I spent three days and two nights on the Island - It is truly a beautiful restful spot. We enjoyed the cabin we stayed in, the hiking trails were fun and the fire pit was very pleasant. Also the staff were helpful and friendly. BUT- we were very disappointed with the food -- limited selection, over priced and unfortunately you are captive audience. If you are going bring your own snacks and beverages and definitely plan on going off the Island for a meal or two.

  • Stayed September 2012, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank MNGolfer
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Minneapolis, MN
Level 4 Contributor
27 reviews
26 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 68 helpful votes
Reviewed 5 September 2012

We had a good trip but mainly because the weather was beautiful and the scenery is fantastic and it is truly relaxing

Pros:
-The rooms are not bad at all; We stayed in the Garden Cabin; rooms 22/23 and they are the only rooms at the top of stairs so they afford some privacy
-These rooms had a/c and a small fridge
-The whole "island" feeling is nice
-Very relaxing
-Absolutely gorgeous views
-Dinner was good, but see below.
-They have kayaks, row boats, fishing rods, 2 water bikes, a game room but see below

Cons:
-Service is a joke; I think they use the term "rustic" as an excuse to let the customers fend for themselves
-Food. Breakfast is quite pathetic. Dinner was good but overpriced at about 175$ for 3 people and they don't change the menu all week.
-the game room and facilities are in disrepair; again I think they confuse quaint with shabby.
-No little beach area for swimming so for little kids there are no real options to get into the water.

Overall the area is absolutely beautiful. Would I go there again? absolutely. Would I stay at Stouts Lodge? Doubt it.

Room Tip: We stayed at Garden lodge which I think are the cheaper ones, we saw the rooms in Shore lodge which...
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  • Stayed August 2012, travelled with family
    • Value
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    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
6 Thank travelfromMN
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Bloomington, Minnesota
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed 4 September 2012

We stayed at the Stouts Island resort for 3 days. The views are stunning, location is spectacular. However to say it was BAD service would imply that there was service. The place is grossly understaffed and the staff who is there do not know how to serve.
There is only one restaurant on the island which is way over priced. Do not expect you meal in less than an hour after you order (bad combo if you are with kids). They do not change their menu everyday so if you are staying for a few days be prepared to eat the same thing again.
The buildings are in ill-repair. (too be fair they are trying fixing a few things in each lodge)
The housekeeping is very tardy; apparently my wife's straightening up the bed looks better than the housekeepers bed-making (according to the manager who came into the room and claimed the room was already "made", when it was not). Be prepared to ask for little things (like towels, forks for marshmallow roasting etc) at least 3 times. There are no phones in the room so you will have to walk up to the main lodge (calling the reception, via cellphone, after hours gets answering machine)
All in all, "GO" if you like the rustic appeal and would rather do everything yourself anyway.
I wish the current owners would sell the resort to someone who knows how to run a hotel. There is so much potential but it is wasted in the current ownership/management.

  • Stayed September 2012, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank Huzefa G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Stout's Island Lodge

Property: Stout's Island Lodge
Address: 2799 27th Street, Birchwood, WI 54817-9242
Region: United States > Wisconsin > Birchwood
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Kitchenette Restaurant Suites
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 3 B&Bs / Inns in Birchwood
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): ££
Number of rooms: 43
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Stout’s Island Lodge sits proudly in the center of Red Cedar Lake – an 1800-acre lake in northeastern Barron County, Wisconsin. There are two island connected by a 100 ft. walking bridge (given to Frank Stout by Andrew Carneige). The two islands have a combined acreage of 18 acres. All lodging is located on the western of the two islands; the East Island has walking trails as well as a small picnic cabin on the northern tip. Red Cedar Lake is known for its water quality, its fishery and for its relative quietude. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Stout`s Island Hotel Mikana
Stout Island

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