Life on the Lakes: A Summer Unlike any Other

Life on the Lakes: A Summer Unlike any Other

Welcome back to another chapter of our continuing series: “Life on the Lakes,” where we give you glimpses into our daily life here at Lakedale Resort. First, we hope that you and your families are all safe and well and that you were able to enjoy the summer! We doubt it needs to be said, but 2020 has been a very challenging year for pretty much everyone, everywhere. We thought it would be fun to give our friends and fans an update on how we’re doing.

Ready. Set. NO!

It’s no secret that San Juan Island is a happening place to be in the summer months.  While we stay busy year-round with our Lodge Rooms, Log Cabins, and Yurts, things really ramp up when we open the Campground, Canvas Cabins, and Cottages from May through September.  Every year, after the summer is over and we’ve readied Lakedale for fall and winter, we usually take a deep breath and focus on planning and preparation for the following season. By the time we get to February and March, we’re almost like thoroughbreds behind the starting gates of a Triple Crown race: a little stir crazy, a little nervous, but ready to go and do what we do best.

road and grassy meadow at Neva cottages

At the end of March this year, we were ready to race, but the gates didn’t open! State and county regulations closed all hotels on the islands, so you can imagine us at the starting gate, chomping at the bit with nowhere to go and no guests to please! Fast forward to Memorial Day weekend, which is always sold out and is the big kickoff to every summer. It was a pretty surreal feeling to be one of only two people on an 82-acre property on a Saturday that is traditionally one of our busiest days of the year.  Instead of delivering bundles of firewood to campsites at 6:00 pm, the two of us hit golf balls across the lake to The Point via some pretty nice golf swings.  Ok, fine…the actual quality of those swings is debatable.

But not being open for guests didn’t make the grass stop growing or dust bunnies from breeding, so we kept plugging away.  Unfortunately, we had no idea when we might be allowed to reopen, nor did we know under what circumstances that might be.  We decided to work as if we would be allowed to reopen with little advanced notice.

The Endless Summer

After three months of being closed to the public and multiple postponements of reopening dates, we finally got the good news:  Lakedale could reopen for business on June 21st!  We reopened the resort at just under 50% capacity, heeding state, and local health department regulations, which meant pulling something out of circulation from every accommodation type we have on the property.  Because of that, many of Lakedale’s Campsites, Canvas Cabins, and Cottages, Log Cabins, Lodge Rooms, and Yurts were unavailable to rent for the entire summer.

All of our annually scheduled events like the Triathlon/Marathon, Gourmet Glamping Series, and Jazz Festival were canceled. We were also unable to host any of the weddings or retreats we had on the calendar.  This was a huge bummer for us and many of our guests, but we certainly understood, given the circumstances.

five boys at the Lake House

Thanks for the cute photo, @modernfarmhousefamily!

Lakedale enjoys a very loyal following of repeat guests, which is fantastic for us from a business standpoint. And being able to see familiar faces year in and year out is wonderful for us as individual human beings.  It’s good for the soul to welcome back folks who love spending time with us in our home!  Most of our frequent guests make their return reservations months in advance, so, unfortunately, we had to cancel over seven hundred reservations between April and August just so that Lakedale would be allowed to open at all.  This was heartbreaking and easily the most challenging part of the entire process for us.

When we had all of our ducks in a row and knew we could not only reopen but reopen safely, we admit that we had no idea what to expect. How would our guests feel about being here, about traveling, and about adhering to health ordinances?  We were prepared for a mix of reactions and feelings, but we didn’t expect what we ended up with: an overwhelmingly and palpably positive experience!

Great shot and thanks! @seattleinsiders

Lakedale is the place to go for people who want to disconnect and get away from their day-to-day life and routines.  We appreciate this, of course, but we completely underestimated how much the vast majority of our guests wanted, and needed, the experience we offer here every day.  It turns out that Lakedale’s open spaces and naturally distanced accommodations gave our guests the confidence they needed to truly relax and enjoy time with friends or family that they’d lacked for months. We know happy people when we see them…even if we could only see the top half of their faces!

boy rowing boat at Lakedale

Thanks for the fun photo, @amandaisaf !

We’re used to being sold out from June to the last week of August, with Labor Day weekend effectively ending the summer, then watching the activity trail off substantially through September.  Not this year!  Lakedale was still busy through the first three weeks of October.  No crowds, no congestion, and no worries. The summer that almost didn’t start almost wouldn’t end. And wrapped up in a year that we might want to forget, we had a summer that we’ll always remember!

We’re off and Running!

Now, as we’re solidly into fall and moving towards winter, we finally have time to reflect and plan the next steps for Lakedale.  Grappling with so many unknowns is daunting for sure, but we always do our best to stay positive and learn as we go.  We learned a lot about a lot of things this year.  We won’t bore you with all the details, but we will tell you that we’re excited about the future!  Of course, our year-round accommodations are open, and we’re running some fantastic promotions, especially for multiple night stays.  So, if we missed you this summer, visit us this off-season, or make a reservation for next year when you’re comfortable with traveling again.  We’ll be here for you when you’re ready. In the meantime, take care of those around you, and wear your mask!  See you soon!

sunset at Lakedale with boats on grass

Gorgeous sunset served up by @sarahdymond1 – thanks!

 

How to Zoom yourself to Lakedale!

How to Zoom yourself to Lakedale!

With all of us slowly reemerging from our Coronavirus cocoons, we hope you’re thinking of making your way back to Lakedale soon. Our reopening is scheduled for June 21st and the Lakedale team has been working like crazy for months getting the property sparkling for your return. In the meantime, we’ve gathered some of our favorite images so you can picture yourself at Lakedale on your friends and family Zoom calls.

Here’s a quick step-by-step guide to get you back to Lakedale (virtually!):

  1. Download your favorite Lakedale images (from this post) onto your computer.
  2. Download the Zoom Desktop client on your Mac or Windows computer.
  3. Open the app and log into your Zoom account.
  4. Click the gear icon in the top right-hand corner to navigate to Settings
  5. In the left menu, click Virtual Background (make sure it’s activated on the regular Zoom website).
  6. Select the + icon to upload one of the Lakedale background images. It will automatically show behind you on the Zoom screen.
  7. During a Zoom meeting click the ^ arrow next to Stop Video and click Chose Virtual Background… to change or turn off your Zoom background.

Let us know what your favorite images are, and when you do return, send us your photos so we can add them to our Zoom file to share with all our guests!

 

The Lakedale To-Do List, Episode 2!

The Lakedale To-Do List, Episode 2!

Every fall after we wave goodbye to our summer guests, when the island quiets down, and we have a minute to breathe, we start envisioning all the projects we want to polish off before the next season rolls around.

This year’s To-Do list project has been on our minds for a few years. Our lodge rooms, while romantic and cozy with gas fireplaces, jetted tubs, and idyllic views of the lake, needed some TLC. The rooms had either queen or full-size beds, mattresses that the Princess (she of Pea fame) might complain about, and TV’s that were a smidge too small for today’s widescreen action films.

Starting last fall, we began designing a fresh, Northwest-modern version of our lodge rooms that would reward our guests with all the creature comforts of home (and more), plus still have the romantic, peaceful experience they’ve come to love in the Lodge.

 

Believe it or not, the lodge has seven different room configurations, which makes it a little challenging to order furniture and have it all fit. We opted to go with custom-made slatted headboards with cantilevered end tables made from cherry wood, that mimic the logs in our stunning log Lodge and log cabins. And fortunately for us, we have a fantastic woodworker who worked with us on the yurts a few years ago and was willing to lend his skill to make the headboards happen. Gary worked nonstop for months to fabricate the slats and plinth bases for the new king and queen size beds. The cherry end tables, and their wrought-iron supports, were built in Sisters, Oregon.

Knowing November and early December are slower times for the Lodge, we opted to close the Lodge for three weeks and bring in the entire team for a full onslaught to transform the rooms. We painted all the rooms, bathrooms, and hallways. New carpet was installed last year, and we added fresh linens, plush comfy mattresses, new lighting, modern writing tables with chairs, AND huge new flat screen TV’s mounted about the fireplaces. Hanging over the beds are custom prints of birds sighted at Lakedale, painted by a noted watercolor artist and commissioned by us. It was fast and furious, but we’re thrilled with our rooms’ bright, new Northwest vibe.

Our top-notch crew couldn’t stop themselves after the completion of the Lodge project. They added new grass outside the lodge decks and willow trees adjacent to the Canvas Cottages to create additional privacy for our glamping units. The Yurts also got some love with trees and plantings to return the Village area to its natural environment. We hope you visit us soon to see first-hand the results of this year’s To-Do List!

 

Life on the Lakes: Lakedale Jazz Festival

Life on the Lakes: Lakedale Jazz Festival

“Time flies when you’re having fun”, as the saying goes.  Can you believe the summer of 2019 is almost over?  For many people, the last week of August means winding down summer’s energy, and settling in for the mellowness of fall.  Some kids have already started a new school year, and the rest will start in a few days time.  Here at Lakedale however, we’re still going full speed with preparations for the Labor Day weekend and our third annual Lakedale Jazz Festival!

Holiday weekends are always a little crazy in the hospitality industry, regardless of where you are in the world.  Memorial Day is our summer kickoff and Labor Day signals the end of our busy season.  While we think being at Lakedale is an entertaining proposition anytime of the year, we’re always inventing fun events to make our guest’s experience even better.  A couple of years ago we decided it would be cool to invite some jazz musicians to Lakedale to jam over the Labor Day weekend. Our guests would enjoy the music and our team could participate as well. Whistle while you work, right?

It also happens that our General Manager is a musician himself, and birds of a feather flock together.  With a few phone calls and emails, he had a stellar lineup of well-known jazz artists lined up, all anxious to spend their holiday weekend with us and our guests!  Throw in food from Tina’s Tacos, wine from Sagelands, and beer from Oskar Blues, and we had an exciting event: relaxing and fun for folks of all ages and robust enough for the jazz fiends among us!

Speaking of musicians, we think this year’s artist lineup is the best yet!  World-renowned jazz guitarist Brian Nova will be back this year with his trio, along with special guests: Greta Matassa, Fred Radke, Stephanie Porter, Max Holmberg, Terry Miller, Primo Kim, Oliver Strasser, Chance Hayden and many more.  San Juan Island is a hotbed of artistic talent, so we’ve also invited a few of Lakedale’s friends and family to participate as well.  Yes, some of us can bounce between playing drum sets and running an 82-acre resort property at the same time!

Of course, we’re happy about the progress and growth of our Jazz Festival, but we’re especially proud of what it gives us the opportunity to do.  This event is a benefit weekend for the San Juan Islands School Music programs and Terry’s Kids/San Francisco Music Study Center. Lakedale donates 100% of ticket sales to bring music and music education programs into schools, not only on our island, but around the globe!

Let’s make sure we’ve got this straight: a weekend of amazing jazz music in a gorgeous outdoor setting, all benefitting a wonderful cause, and you don’t have to go to work on Monday?  Sounds like a great plan to us!  Well, all except for the not working on Monday part, because we kind of need to be here, but feel free to tell us what that part is like!  Make sure to check out the Lakedale Jazz Festival details, and we hope to see you this weekend!

Life on the Lakes: the Gourmet Glamping Dinner Series!

Life on the Lakes: the Gourmet Glamping Dinner Series!

Welcome to the first post in a new series called “Life on the Lakes”!  This series is where you’ll tune in to get information, insights, and recaps of the various annual events that we host here at Lakedale Resort.  We may even give you the occasional look inside at what it’s like for us as hosts, and how we make these events come to life.  For our first glimpse at life on the lakes, let’s look at our annual summer dinner series,  “Gourmet Glamping”!

The gourmet angle seems easy enough to understand, but first let’s talk about the glamping part.  We’ve spent years refining glamping at Lakedale, but in case you’ve missed it, the term “glamping” is a mash-up of the words glamorous and camping.  It’s a term and a phenomenon that has been steadily, and rapidly, increasing in popularity for about a decade or so. If you ask ten different people to define the term you’ll probably get ten different answers.  We think that glamping’s popularity is mostly attributable to its accessibility and the diversity that’s naturally built into the concept.  Maybe you live in the city and you’ve always wanted to go camping, but you don’t own any gear or have any experience.  Maybe you’re an experienced outdoor enthusiast, but you want to take a break from the hardcore side of camping.  Or maybe you’re both of those, but you just started a family and you want your little ones to experience nature in a more comfortable environment until they’re old enough to go backpacking.  Wherever you fit, glamping allows you to enjoy the outdoors with a minimum amount of effort!  Bring a tooth brush and a change of socks, and we’ll cover the rest.  Glamping is the perfect fusion between outdoors and indoors and is something pretty much everyone can enjoy.  You can smell like a campfire, without the sore back and muscles that come with it!

While we’re on that subject, when was the last time you left your favorite fine dining establishment smelling like a campfire?  Never?  Well, we thought that since we could mash-up a hotel room and a campsite, we might be able to cross a fine dining restaurant with an old-fashioned campfire cookout.  That’s the “Gourmet Glamping Dinner Series”!  Here’s the recipe: take 1 part talented chef with an awesome menu, add 1 part regional winemaker, add 20-30 guests, stir and cook over several campfires for roughly 3 hours.  And when we say talented chef, we mean it.  While the chef lineup changes every year, it’s not uncommon to see a lineup that includes James Beard Award winners, and folks that have beaten their celebrity counterparts on cooking shows!

Each Gourmet Glamping event has a unique personality.  That personality depends mostly on the guests who are in attendance.  For most of the events, the cooking process is very interactive, and our guests help with prep and cooking, as much or as little as they want.  Sometimes all the guests want to roll up their sleeves and dive in, and that’s when the real magic happens!  Picture this: you’re in your comfortable outdoor clothes on a nice summer evening with a glass of wine, and you’re working side by side with someone you just saw beat one of the Iron Chefs on TV.  Normal Saturday night stuff, right?

Lakedale will host between two and four Gourmet Glamping events every year, usually in the months of June, July and August.  The events always take place on a Saturday evening, and we’re usually able to price them under $100 per person including all wine pairings, which makes Gourmet Glamping the perfect way to cap off the perfect weekend getaway!  A few weekends ago, Chef Adam Stevenson from Cedarbrook Lodge was here with Three of Cups Winery from Woodinville for our first Gourmet Glamping event of the 2019 season.  Don’t worry if you missed the June event, because our next dinner is coming up on Saturday, August 17th, 2019 with Chef Jeff Maxfield of SkyCity at the Space Needle and Longship Cellars from Tri-Cities!  We typically limit the number of spaces to 30 guests, and they fill quickly, so book your spot soon!

We’re constantly cooking up new ideas for events and activities for our guests at Lakedale.  Stay tuned, and watch this space for all the juicy details – we look forward to seeing you soon!

Meet the Lakedale Team!

Meet the Lakedale Team!

If meeting new people could be considered currency, then Lakedale Resort is staffed by some of the wealthiest people on the planet.  For us, interacting with and serving our guests is honestly the best part of our job.  It could be the one thing that we all have in common, and it brings us together as a family.  If we haven’t already met, we hope to meet you soon, but in the meantime allow us to introduce our core management team.

Karl

The buck always stops with the boss, as the saying goes.  Karl has been Lakedale’s General Manager since 2012, and he’s ultimately responsible for taking our owner’s vision and turning it into reality.  While most GM’s spend the better part of their days behind their desks in their offices, that’s not Karl’s M.O.  If he’s not greeting and chatting with guests, he’s with our housekeeping crew helping to prep an accommodation, or he’s in the kitchen cooking for a corporate retreat, or maybe he’s meeting with staff planning the next big Lakedale project.  If you’re looking for Karl on Labor Day Weekend during Lakedale’s annual Jazz Festival, you’ll most likely find him on stage jamming on the drums with one of the bands!  Karl’s happy place at Lakedale though, especially on sunny summer days, is on the riding mower with a pair of sunglasses.  Yep, he’s a pretty busy guy, but he always makes time for our guests.  So, if you see a guy in the distance that looks a little like George Lucas, stop and introduce yourself, and tell him how much you love the Star Wars movies (Shhhh, don’t tell him we told you that last part!)

Richard

If the buck stops with Karl, then all of the quarters, nickels, dimes and pennies stop with our Operations Director, Richard.  Beginning in 2012, if it has to do with the day-to-day operations of Lakedale Resort, it’s been on Richard’s plate.  An avid details enthusiast, he feels more like he’s coaching a sports team than managing a resort operation.  Richard has a unique ability to turn every 10 second comment into a 10 minute conversation.  No really, the guy has to change the battery on his walkie-talkie like twice a day!  Along with keeping the daily routine going, and entertaining the rest of the team with stories they’ve heard 10 times already, Richard spends a lot of time on more “creative” endeavors like special package and promotion ideation, copy and collateral creation, and he even writes some of Lakedale’s blog posts.  We won’t confirm this, but he may have written this very post you’re reading right now (which is kind of weird with the whole 3rd person thing, right?)

Carla

Back in 2014, Lakedale hired Carla as a seasonal Front Desk agent.  We immediately recognized her awesome skills, and after something like a week’s worth of training, we promoted her to a full time Front Desk Supervisor position!  Over the next two years, because of her enthusiasm and consistent eagerness to take on new tasks, her list of responsibilities grew to include some of our group sales and event coordination workload, in addition to managing the Front Desk, Lakedale’s beating heart.  In 2016, Carla promoted herself to another new full time position, managing another beating heart…that of her brand new baby daughter!  As all parents would know, there isn’t a job in the world that requires more dedication, attention to detail, and time management than being a new mother.  So, when Carla came back to us in 2017, she got another well deserved promotion to apply those skills as Lakedale’s full time Group Sales and Events Coordinator.  Carla dives into the details of every meeting, retreat and wedding right from the start, but she especially loves working through itineraries and directing our staff en route to smoothly running events.  We think she’s just practicing her “Go clean your room” skills on us, but none of us are brave enough to test her when she tells us to do something.  Nope, not even going there.

Kelly

Lakedale Resort’s Campground Supervisor, resident lawn games nerd, and creator of outdoor awesomeness has been with us since 2012.  If you find yourself north of the main Lodge building at Lakedale, you’re officially in Kelly’s world.  Kelly and his crew are responsible for caring for Lakedale’s Campground and Canvas Cabins, in addition to all of our outdoor games, beaches, boat rental docks, and landscaping.  If he’s not on a mower, a weed whacker, or the tractor, you’ll probably find him planning or setting up some cool game or activity for our guests to enjoy.  In fact, if you look around the property and see something you think is cool, chances are good that it was either Kelly’s idea, or he played a part putting it there.  “Hey Kelly, whatcha’ doing?” – “I’m at the shop making a Koob set and a Molkky set on the table saw”.  “Hey Kelly, whatcha’ doing?” – “I’m building regulation horseshoe pits”.  “Hey Kelly, whatcha’ doing?” – “I’m creating a trail down to a lakeside fire pit for guests to use”.  And at the end of every day he looks around and says “What do I do here?”  You see, it isn’t “work” when you’re having fun!

Errol, Lakedale Maintenance Supervisor

Errol

Most people would find taking care of 9 different types of accommodations and multiple facilities, spread out over 82 acres, to be a job that’s more than overwhelming.  We’re extremely fortunate that Errol, Lakedale’s Maintenance Supervisor, isn’t most people!  Imagine being in charge of all of the maintenance of all of Lakedale’s facilities, fixtures, equipment and vehicles, in addition to being responsible for all of the new projects and additions that we do here every single year.  As if that pressure wasn’t enough already, Errol’s first day of work was opening day in 2012.  That’s right, he skipped the frying pan altogether and just jumped straight into the fire!  Errol really is the backbone of Lakedale’s team, because he literally keeps the lights on, the water flowing, and the wheels spinning.  He’s all work and little talk, so when we apologize to him for heaping so many projects onto his plate, he usually just smiles and says “It’s all job security”.  One of these years we’ll give him a breather and stop adding so many new things for him to keep track of, but we don’t think you should hold your breath for that!

Mary Ann

If you’ve stayed with us before, or you’ve been following our Facebook page, then Mary Ann needs no introduction!  Like most of our core team, she started working with us in 2012, making this her 7th year at Lakedale.  Her title is “Director of Edibles”…no, not those kinds of edibles!  Mary Ann flies cover over about a million and a half things for us, primarily food and beverage production, special package production, and purchasing for our General Store and Lodge Boutique.  If you happen to be staying in a Lodge Room when you visit Lakedale, more like than not it will be Mary Ann’s smiling face that you’ll see in the morning for breakfast.  She’ll give you a full rundown of all of the things that you’ll need to see and do while you’re out exploring, and serve you up one of her famous “Momelets” at the same time.  What’s a “Momelet” you ask?  It’s that wonderful egg dish that your mom used to make for you that started out as an omelet, but ended up as a sort of half-scramble.  She makes them with love, and our guests love them!  Just like the rest of us, Mary Ann’s favorite thing to do at Lakedale is chat with guests, and make sure that their day is that much better and brighter.  And, because she’s Lakedale’s official work mother, “Momma B” takes care of all of us so that we can take care of you!

And there you have it, Lakedale’s eclectic management team.  Of course, you’ll have to come and visit us to meet the rest of our summer team.  We’ll see you soon!