The Great Northern Minnesota Resort and Venue Tour continues as Bruce Vassar takes us to Madden’s on Gull Lake.
Since the turn of the 20th century, people have traveled miles to embrace the relaxing environment of Minnesota’s Lake Country area and today it’s really no different. The mode of travel in getting there, however, may be more comfortable now than riding in a train or in horse-drawn livery. But one thing you can count on for sure, the scenery hasn’t changed too much taking into account the freeways to get you Up-North in record time after work on Friday.
Beautifully positioned on more than 1,000 sprawling acres on Pine Beach Peninsula of Gull Lake, Madden’s Resort is a legend in Minnesota. Seemingly like a small town all onto itself, with roads taking you from one area of the peninsula to another. From its earliest beginnings in 1909, entrepreneur T.H. Harrison made plans to build a resort at that spot. Eventually, his son, John, and a partner, Chester Start, built a golf course and then a hotel. Prospects looked great as hotel guests commenced traveling in motorcars to Gull Lake. Whether it was to experience the refreshing environment of the great outdoors of the North Shore or to get out of the city for the city slickers.
Weathering the storm of the historic 1929 stock market crash with the Great Depression lasting until 1939 it was a difficult time for many in the country. It was an era when caddies were paid 25 cents a round and when many workers earned as little as $20 a month, ultimately rendering vacations as a costly luxury. Finding themselves in a desperate situation, Harrison and Start agreed to sell their course and clubhouse for no money down. Purchased by the Maddens who built a tiny three-cabin resort called Mission Point, a partnership with former course owner Chester Start. These modest housekeeping units were far different from what Madden’s guests find today with their three areas of their resort on the Pine Peninsula including Steamboat Bay, Mission Point, and Wilson Bay.
Resolute in their endless pursuit even to this day of offering high caliber quality hospitality, Madden’s award-winning resort doesn’t wait, they have actually anticipated the wishes and desires of vacationers offering them fantastic golf, upscale dining, lakeside spa, tennis, activity programs for children, biking, shopping, and art gallery with painting classes and almost every kind of on-the-water recreation possible in Minnesota, including fishing. The 285 guest rooms comfortably accommodate 600+ guests. Madden’s vast array of accommodations range from hotel rooms; 2-bedroom cabins to multi-bedroom houses. With the most shoreline of any resort in the Brainerd Lakes area, most rooms feature a beautiful lake view which everyone wants. The interiors are current, comfortable, spotless and fresh. Just wait until you see the honeymoon suite!
I had the honor of meeting Kathy Reichenbach, for my tour. Kathy is the Marketing Director at Madden’s and you can tell she loves working at the resort. She may have worked here for the last 37 years, but I can tell you this, she is energized and passionate about what she does today as if it was her first day on the job. As we started the tour she went out to a golf cart and was, like, ‘hop on’. So hop on we did and away we went.
I was just in awe at how sprawled out the resort is and all the different areas such as Wilson Bay Lodge where wedding guests up to 200 can be accommodated and the Town Hall Conference Center built in 1986 in the middle of the resort accommodates 500 guests. The ballrooms are beautiful and the one that really rang out to me was the Wilson Bay Lodge with the large floor to ceiling windows overlooking the bay and the beautifully designed ceiling and antler chandelier.
Madden’s is a seasonal resort opening the middle of April and closing in November. So with that said, if you are interested in having your wedding at Madden’s you better hurry as they only allow 12 weddings during their open season and they are almost booked for 2019 and are now reserving 2020. You better run fast!
So you may be asking yourself what is the charming secret of this gem of a resort. Well, there are a few, a few that turned my head, that is for sure. Did you know there are cabins along the lakeshore where couples can have a couple’s massage? There is a little store called Chrissy’s Ice Cream and it reminds me of the old stores where kids could buy Penny Candy, but with café seating and espresso! The most intriguing thing that sent me soaring was when I asked Kathy about the airplane in the lake.
Wings Over Water Inc. will provide you with the opportunity to earn your certification in a Super Cub plane on floats. A total of six hours of flying time are included, the average time necessary to complete the program. Now that I say is something different I did not expect and when you think about it a great way for a couple to make their entrance.
Images courtesy of Madden’s