Here on the North Shore we are under the impression that you SHOULD go chasing waterfalls (despite the popular 90’s song)! Because the spring thaw isn’t something to simply endure, it’s something to CELEBRATE and mother nature does that exceedingly well. When the 8 feet of snowfall from this winter melts, the resulting waterfalls along the North Shore will be flowing with ferocity. The roar of the rapids and rainbow inducing cascading falls are truly a natural phenomena and something everyone should see in their lifetime.
Every winter is beautiful in its own way but here on the North Shore, this winter takes the cake. Conditions have been excellent, with new snow seemingly in the forecast every time the current snow gets to be a bit crunchy. All in all we’ve received over 90 inches.
The large amount of snowfall has caused animals that would normally stay inland, to come down and visit us at the lake. Transportation is easier down here where there is less snowfall. Also, for a few weeks Lake Superior was frozen solid in front of the resort and animals were using it like their personal freeway.
Here’s the story of the winter nature moments at Lutsen Resort.
It all began back in January, when we had a fox on our roof (!)
We actually noticed it because a guest had posted a photo of it and tagged us on Twitter. When we saw the photo the next day, we figured there was no way he would still be there. But he was. And he returned every couple days for almost a week.
Next came the river otters. Now we get river otters on the Poplar every year, but with the way the river froze so much this year, they were much more visible. Staff and guests reported seeing them sliding on the their bellies all the way under the bridge.
Finally, dun dun dun….the wolves! The wolves were so cool. They were first reported on February 11th by our Front Desk Manager.
And then…we just kept seeing them.
On February 13th.
And again on February 19th.
And then again on February 22nd. This time we weren’t sure if it was wolves or coyotes.
It’s not too late for you to come experience great nature moments. Winters like this don’t always happen. We have about another month before the snow begins to melt. And Spring is a great time for wildlife viewing as well!
We are thrilled to share with you more information on the renovation of the Strand Waterfront Dining Room! “Strand” means shore in Swedish. This highlights one of the dining room’s best assets – the incredible view of Lake Superior and the Poplar River. The Strand went through a complete renovation including new walls, flooring, tables, chairs, lighting and more, all while maintaining the historic integrity of the Lutsen Resort dining room. The driving force behind the renovation was to provide our visitors with the greatest fine dining experience in the region.
You might be thinking, “Hey. That renovation took place last December. What’s been the hold up?” You’re right. The Strand has been open for business since December 14th. We were waiting to post about it until we had the final piece to the puzzle AKA the icing on the cake – our 1200-bottle, enclosed, temperature-controlled wine cellar. Tah-dah!
The new wine cellar is made of glass walls with a birch bark backdrop. The birch bark is a tribute to the historic “birch room” that once graced the presence of Lutsen Resort. The cellar can hold between 1100-1200 bottles of wine in a variety of formats.
We also added a 16-bottle wine dispensing station.
Naturally, with the addition of the cellar and the dispensing station, the wine menu also received an update. The Strand Waterfront Dining Room now carries nearly 200 different bottles of wine. We’ve greatly increased our international wine selection, now featuring bottles from Australia and South Africa. We’ve also added more variety from France and Italy. We have 20 wines from the Wine Spectator Top 100 list, including the #1 wine, Sassicaia 2015 from Tenuta San Guido estate.
In addition to the wine cellar and dispensing station, we have made changes to enhance the overall dining experience. We swapped out the formerly yellow hued lighting in favor of Scandinavian designed white drum shades with lighting that maximizes the “wow” factor of our dishes. We added custom built wingback chairs as well as new tables crafted from reclaimed wood sourced from a dismantled cigar factory dating back to the 1800’s. We’ve creatively re-imagined the menu in an innovative way (hint: fondue!). Smaller details were improved including new centerpieces, napkin rings and upgrading all of our wine glasses to Reidel brand glassware. Overall, we enhanced the way we serve and present our dishes. To truly get a feel for the impact of these changes, you’ll have to experience it for yourself. May we suggest the Spring Food and Wine weekend?
Here at Lutsen Resort, we are fully embracing the adventurous North Shore winter. We have a few fun and exciting upgrades that have happened recently. We’ve shared some details below, but keep in mind – you’ll have to come see for yourself to enjoy the full experience.
The new wine dispensing station
Firstly, our largest project was the renovation of our dining room. The renovation is just about complete and the dining room is open for business. The final puzzle piece we are still waiting for is the wine cellar installation. Once that happens, we’ll do a separate blog posting all about it. Until then, you can see photos of the new dining room on our Facebook Page. We’ve received an outpouring of positive feedback, which we greatly appreciate and value.
Secondly, we installed an outdoor ice-skating rink. The ice rink is open daily from 9 am to 9 pm and has already been enjoyed by many! Use of the ice rink as well as skate rentals are complimentary for guests. There is also a seating area with a bonfire pit next to the ice rink. Oh, and did we mention that the outdoor ice rink has Lake Superior views? Photo op!
Thirdly, the rooms in the Lutsen lodge got bundled up for the winter with old fashioned ski décor. The goal was to encompass a true ski lodge experience and, as you can see, the result is cozy and beautiful.
Fourth, complimentary hot chocolate bar! Need we say more?
Fifth, we’ll be updating the lobby with some new furniture. Now this won’t be a major renovation or anything, but we are adding new couches and curtains. We take pride in having the coziest, most welcoming lobby on the north shore and we want to continue to provide that environment for you to come enjoy.
Lastly, we’re adding cheese fondue to the menu! Chef Chris has perfected the recipe and it’s ready to serve this week. Because who doesn’t love fondue?
We all know that recognizable sign, “Lutsen Sea Villa Townhomes” indicating you’ve made it to Lutsen. Have you ever stayed in a Sea Villa? Do you know what makes them distinct? How about the interesting history behind the development? Built in 1968, the Sea Villas are now celebrating 50 years of accommodating visitors to the North Shore.
The primary reason for building the Sea Villas was to fill a growing need for lodging that Lutsen Mountains Ski Area demanded in the winter months. The units are situated right on the shore of Lake Superior, an inland sea. The design was based on a Scandinavian ski villa. Hence the name – “Sea Villas”.
They were originally developed by George Nelson Jr. and Irving Hansen, the owner of Isak Hansen Hardware. 57 units were built in two phases on two parcels of land separated by a small resort with five seasonal cabins. Believe it or not, the whole idea of townhomes and condominiums was very new back in the late 60’s. The Sea Villas were the first lodging of this kind in Minnesota. A unit could be purchased and used exclusively as a vacation home or contracted with “Lutsen Resort” to manage and rent out the property. This model is now used widely both within resorts and through private homes.
The small resort property that separated the East and West Sea Villa units was purchased from the Running family in 1990, uniting the Sea Villa properties into one continuous parcel. The picturesque red cabin located on the point is the only remaining cabin from that era. It is now used as housing for resort staff in the summer months. The larger house across from the Guest Services Building is now used for housekeeping purposes, but it will always be referred to as the “Running House”.
In the mid-90’s a villa owner and architect, Rich Wolfgramm, designed phase one of the Guest Service Building. This was the reception section and it was created in the style of Edwin Lundie who designed the Lodge at Lutsen Resort. The second phase, the recreation/pool building, was designed by SMMA Architects and was completed in 1998. The Sea Villas also feature a playground and a network of hiking trails.
The Sea Villas have welcomed hundreds of thousands of guests over the years and they remain as a unique lodging experience on the North Shore. They are grand-fathered in as one of the closest properties to Lake Superior and they have large glass windows highlighting this advantage. The Lutsen-Villa Owners Association has created standards that all Sea Villas must abide to. Many have been updated several times since they were built. Most feature fun lofts for kiddos and some are pet-friendly. For some, a trip to the Sea Villas has been a family tradition for all 50 years.
Greetings friends of Lutsen Resort! Over the years we have heard from many of you that you would be interested in purchasing our dining room furniture, should we ever decide to make a change. The time has come!
We will be completely renovating the dining room between November 25th and December 13th and we’d like to give you the opportunity to purchase some of the furniture.
In order to be fair, we will be selling the furniture lottery style. We will collect contact information of anyone interested in the furniture via this form.The form MUST be completed no later than 10 am on Monday, November 26, 2018. The form does NOT commit you to buying anything. It simply ensures that you are eligible for the drawing that will give you the opportunity to purchase furniture if you’d like. Selections will be drawn on November 26th at 12 pm. We will notify those that have been selected by 4 pm on November 26th.
Items will be available to be picked up beginning November 26th. They MUST be picked up by December 14, 2018 at 4 pm.
Please note: The Dining Room chairs will still be in use following the renovation therefore that lottery drawing will occur at a later date, yet to be determined.
Own a piece of history! Here is the information on the furniture available. Images are posted below.
Dining Room Tables – These are the original main lodge dining room tables, built in 1952 following the 2nd fire. They were recently refurbished with a heavy “bar pour” style. They are available in
6-tops (38″x68″) $250
4-tops (45″x45″) $200
2-tops (32″x48″) $150
4 Strand “Jello Lamps” – $200
Dining Room Chairs – $25 – note that these will be available at a later date yet to be determined.
Remember you MUST fill out this form. Note that filling out the form does NOT commit you to buying anything. It simply makes you eligible for the drawing that will give you the opportunity to purchase furniture if you’d like.
Contact Marketing Director, Katie Krantz, with any questions. 218-663-6669 or [email protected] Note: It’s possible that more jello lamps will be available as we continue to renovate. That will be determined at a later date.
Regarding the renovation, follow us on social media to see the progress! Be sure to book your stay to see the newly renovated dining room after December 13th.
Last week we filmed our fall video shoot here at Lutsen Resort. The timing was tricky. The idea was that the second week of October would mean leaves were changing color down near Lake Superior but also sticking to their red, orange and yellow glory inland on the Sawtooth Mountains. In anticipation of the shoot, a nervous marketing director (me) was checking the weather daily. Of course, I was hoping that we would have a beautiful blue-sky day to showcase this heavenly time of year. Meanwhile, the forecast showed rain and a lot of wind and the nerves continued.
On Wednesday, day two of filming, I was reminded that rain and wind are not a bad combination here on the North Shore. In fact, it can be a really great combination. I don’t use the word epic often, but we really did have an epic wave day at Lutsen Resort. It was one of those days that remind you that Lake Superior is more of a sea than a lake. The water was turning over so greatly that it was brown from being stirred up with the bottom of the lake. We even found a dock that hadn’t been seen in over 20 years (read more on that here). The rain meant that the mighty Poplar River was flowing at full volume.
Day 2 of Filming – Can you spy the drone?
Needless to say, this made for some incredible drone footage that we cannot wait to share with you. There’s no denying that the fall colors are stunning. We won’t argue with you on that. But late fall with its wavy storms, unpredictable weather and November (also October) gales must not be forgotten. It is truly a sight to savor. Also – shameless plug here – did you know that Lutsen Resort has the best wave watching lobby on the North Shore?
One of the views from our lobby
In addition to great wave watching, late fall is also a prime time for hiking. Fallen leaves means you can see for miles through the boreal forest. And have you ever experienced a first snowfall while in the middle of the woods? It’s pure magic, like being inside a snow globe.
Lastly, Lutsen Resort has over 150 fireplaces. 152 to be exact. Is there anything better than cuddling up next to a fireplace with a good book and a cup of coffee or a glass of wine? I think not. So, have I persuaded you yet? Come join us for a late fall vacation! Escape before the mayhem of the holiday season sets in. Take some time to appreciate the natural wonders this time of year has to offer.
September is the Best Month to Visit the North Shore
Today on the blog we’d like to take on the controversial subject of the best month to visit the North Shore. All North Shore enthusiasts have an opinion on this topic and with good reason – there are plenty of lovely times to visit the area. But we’re here today to take the stance that September is, without a doubt, the BEST month to visit the North Shore.
Firstly, we’re starting with a surprise – one that we think will really tip the scales. Beginning on September 10th, your favorite North Shore resort will be serving up PUMPKIN SPICE LATTES complimentary in our lobby. You heard us right. Now you can bring two of your favorite fall traditions together. You can enjoy a Fall vacation at Lutsen Resort without leaving your favorite festive drink behind.
Secondly, did you know that there’s a great line up of area events happening in September?
September 7-8 | Superior Fall Trail Races – These are 100-mile, 50-mile, and marathon distance running events on the Superior Hiking Trail. They’re fun to run. What’s even more fun is to spectate while drinking a beer!
September 7-9 | Radiowaves Music Festival – Hosted by our local radio station, WTIP, this music festival takes place at the Recreation Area in Grand Marais. Bring a blanket or camp chairs!
September 14-16 | Unplugged Music Festival – Unplugged is North House Folk School’s annual hoopla in downtown Grand Marais. They have story tellers, music performances and an artisan craft fair.
September 26-30 | Oktoberfest – Oktoberfest Celebration is a series of events at Voyageur Brewing Company featuring live music, games food and of course – a special Oktoberfest beer.
September 28-October 7 | Art Along the Lake: Fall Studio Tour – The Fall Studio Tour ranges from Schroeder to Hovland and gives visitors a chance to peek inside artists’ studios as well as chat with them about their work.
So here we are. Free pumpkin spice lattes + great events = a great month to visit the North Shore. But that’s not all. There’s something else about September and describing it is tricky. It’s more of a feeling. A fall-is-in-the-air-but-it’s-still-basically-summer feeling. A one-minute-it’s-raining-the-next-it’s-sunny-and-warm feeling. It happens when you see that first red Maple leaf fall from a tree. And when you feel that first burst of chilly, crisp northern air. September is a time of transitions. And the North Shore is a beautiful place to observe transitions!
No offense to the other months, but September is our favorite. To experience it is to be part of something special. If you don’t have any plans yet – book your stay! We’ll have the fireplace roaring and the Pumpkin Spice Lattes warm and ready.
Following 30 years of ownership, Scott Harrison and Nancy Burns have turned over the iconic Lutsen Resort to new owners. Historic Lutsen Resort sold on August 15, 2018 to North Shore Resort Company, a family company owned by Bryce Campbell and his mother, Sheila.
Scott and Nancy said of the sale, “It’s definitely a bittersweet moment for us. We are looking forward to new opportunities. At the same time, Lutsen Resort has been deeply interwoven in our lives for the past 30 years. It’s hard to imagine what life will be like without it! But it’s time for us to retire from actively running a business and time to turn it over to younger ownership.”
Scott and Nancy intend to remain in Cook County and stay active in community organizations.
New owner, Bryce, said of his purchase of the resort, “I’ve always admired historic lodges, so I’m proud to be able to carry on with Lutsen’s legacy.”
Lutsen Resort History
Lutsen Resort is Minnesota’s oldest resort. Established in 1885, the rugged natural beauty of Lake Superior’s North Shore prompted Charles Axel Nelson, a young Swedish immigrant, to establish his homestead overlooking the lake. He called it “Lutsen.”
Soon married, he and his family supported themselves through fishing, logging and trapping. The original cabin, built on the site of the current Lutsen Resort lodge, grew into an ever-larger family home. In the early days, long before a road was built, travelers found Lutsen a stop of convenience as they made their way up the lake by boat, horseback or on foot. The Nelson children were asked to vacate their beds to accommodate overnight travelers.
As its reputation for welcoming guests grew, Lutsen began to attract visitors who came to stay – to hike, fish and hunt. Known as a friendly haven for weary travelers, the family home evolved into one of Minnesota’s favorite destinations for generations of visitors.
Through their 30 years, Scott and Nancy focused on maintaining the sense of tradition and history that the property evokes, while continuing to add new lodging options, guided outdoor activities and amenities for today’s travelers.
5 Popular Complimentary Activities at Lutsen Resort
Ahh, Complimentary Activities. Here at Lutsen Resort, we are committed to getting our guests outside to play. For many guests, the complimentary activities are the most memorable part of their stay. The purpose of this blog is to outline some of our most popular activities as well as provide some insider tips on ways to enjoy them.
“The best part was the activities. My husband and I did paddleboarding and hiking. We learned a lot and had fun doing it!” – Katie N.
What do we mean by complimentary activities? Let’s start by defining that better. Complimentary – meaning included in your stay. Activities –in this case means recreational adventures. In essence, we’re talking about free adventures.
PSA: I want to start this blog with an important reminder. This time of the year is busy and the resort has many guests in house. We do have 8 guides taking guests on more than 10 tours a day but sign-ups can fill up quickly. Here’s the key – sign up for tours begins at 8 am one week prior to the day of the activity. Log on to the website promptly at 8 am and get signed up! Have a few ideas in mind in case the one you want gets filled right away. Also, try to be considerate of others. If you’re bringing a large family – maybe try to sign up for only 2 or 3 of the guided activities so other guests can enjoy them too. There are plenty of non-guided activities to enjoy as well.
Now for the 5 most popular activities.
Sea Kayaking on Lake Superior. There’s really nothing like it. Getting out on the “Big Lake” is an incredible experience. Doing it in a kayak takes it to the next level. You are right on the water. Insider Tip:Bring a phone or camera if you can! Put it in a waterproof case or bag and secure it to your lifejacket. The views of the Sawtooth Mountains are unforgettable.
Stand Up Paddle Boarding. Have you tried it yet? This trendy watersport is fun and easier than it looks. You *typically* don’t have to get wet if you don’t want to. We also do it on an inland lake which is much easier than on Lake Superior. Insider Tip: Start on your knees! Then you can stand if you feel comfortable.
Kid’s Camp. Three hours of nature-based exploring fun for kids. What could be better? We have three different themes. Monday’s focus is “Create!” where the kiddos can unleash their creative sides. Wednesdays were made to “Explore!” and discover new places and things. Thursday’s theme is “Challenge” emphasizing team work. Insider Tip:There is also Kid’s Pizza and Movie night on Saturdays from 6-8pm! Perfect for dropping the kids off and enjoying a meal in the dining room.
“As a busy working mom, I loved that Lutsen offers free activities for guests of all ages. [. . .] My kids did yoga, kayaked, and paddle boarded.” – Amy L.
Fly Fishing Lessons. Have you ever wanted to try fly fishing but didn’t have anyone to teach you? Then this lesson is perfect for you. It’s very introductory and gives you a chance to practice on one of the best fishing rivers on the North Shore: The Poplar River. Insider Tip: Wear sunglasses! They also serve as eye protection.
Naturalist Programs. Presented by members of the US Forest Service, these are insightful and fun campfire discussions about different nature topics. Topics change every year and this year our topics are Life of a Voyageur and The Amoosing Moose! These programs do not require advance sign up. Insider Tip: Don’t assume this activity is just for kids! Many of the facts and props the naturalist brings are very interesting for adults as well.