The lakeside resorts of yesteryear were simple and rustic. They provided tranquility and an escape from the pressures of life. Each cabin likely came equipped with the bare necessities such as a fire ring and lake access. Maybe the resort had canoes or a swimming dock. They were nothing like Kellerman’s from Dirty Dancing—a glamorous lakeside resort in upstate New York, complete with counselors, dancing lessons, arts and crafts, and fancy sit-down dinners.
Although the majority of today’s lakeside resorts aren’t this fancy, they’re constantly adapting to guests’ needs and providing more and more on-site amenities that give guests few reasons to leave the resort property during their stay.
Resort amenities at mom-and-pop lakeside resorts were pretty simple. Guests would arrive, set up “camp,” and go for a swim. Some resorts provided inner tubes for guests to float in; others had swimming docks a few feet from shore. Larger resorts had slides and Blobs that launched guests into the lake.
In order to fish, guests had to bring their own boats (or at least the motor – the resort provided a 14 foot fishing boat), fishing gear and bait. The resort likely had a dock to fish from or a resort-wide boat launch for guest use, but fancy fishing boats weren’t usually available for rent.
Cabins didn’t have air conditioning units, so guests had to bring their own fans from home or leave the windows open, letting in mosquitoes and other bugs. If there wasn’t air conditioning, there may not have been heaters either, so many resorts didn’t have year-round rentals.
Despite ‘roughing it in nature,’ resorts were popular and guests loved vacationing at a Minnesota Resort!
Resort amenities have changed immensely over the years, but major changes in the last 10-20 years are putting mom-and-pop resorts on the map.
Having to “unplug” from technology while at the lake is a thing of the past. Most of our member resorts have added public Wi-Fi so guests can stay connected to work or family, even while on vacation. Many resorts provide TVs for every cabin, which means guests have another choice to stay entertained if it rains.
Resorts are also incorporating 21st century technology into their daily operations. Guests can book their vacations through a resort’s website and reserve amenities like docks, boats and motors, and pontoons too. And when it comes time to settle up at the end of the week, most of our owner-operated Minnesota resorts accept major credit cards or have Square devices that make check-out quick and seamless.
Traditionally, mom-and-pop resorts only offered week-long stays during the prime summer season, but as guests’ vacation habits change, the resort industry has had to adapt. Not all guests can or want to take a week’s vacation at a time; they only want or have a long weekend available; or they can’t or don’t want to go to the same resort every year. This has led many resorts to offer shorter, more flexible stays that don’t require guests to stay for a set amount of time.
Some Minnesota resorts are also adding vacation home rentals, which allow resort owners to cater to guests who want those amenities that a vacation home offers, such as full-size kitchens, larger bedrooms and bathrooms, and more. These rentals provide guests an option for extended stays or month-to-month rentals in the off-season.
Many of our member resorts now have water toys available for guest use; toys that go beyond a swimming dock or volleyball net in the water. Stand-Up Paddleboards (SUPs), peddle boats, Hydro-bikes, trampolines, water mats and Bongo water bouncers are some of the latest trends to hit the resort market. (Check for a list of resort amenities when booking your summer vacation at one of our member resorts!) Some resorts offer docks with each reservation, and many are investing in bigger fishing boats and larger pontoons for guests to rent.
Minnesota’s plethora of lakeside resorts and campgrounds offer a wide variety of amenities — you’re bound to find a resort that fits your family’s vacation style.
Through the years amenities have changed, but the love of owner-operated Minnesota Resorts stays consistent.
By: Caitlin Koenig
Beach-Sunset Bay Resort