By Shelby Deering | Photos courtesy of Lake Lawn Resort
There are places we visit time and time again that have a familiarity that restores our souls — destinations that are steeped in history and that hold on to a charm that has been known by generations.
Delavan’s Lake Lawn Resort is one of those places. Starting as a simple guesthouse in 1878, the resort has grown into the stunning piece of paradise that it is today. Situated on two miles of Delavan Lake shoreline, it might feel as if you’ve stepped into a time machine when you walk through its entrance — sturdy timbers, a grand stone fireplace — but in recent years, the resort has taken a modern turn through its many luxurious amenities and offerings.
This year indeed marks an important anniversary for Lake Lawn — 140 years of history and welcoming visitors to its striking property and waters. The land has been home to Native Americans, a circus and budding hoteliers. Mary Phillips, a property owner, opened the original guesthouse, and then in 1883, the original hotel was built to accommodate travelers clamoring to visit the lake. In the 1940s, it became a popular spot for dancing and celebrations, and today, it’s still a place that brings happiness to people’s lives.
John Boler, director of marketing, says that in 2018 and 2019, the anniversary will be recognized through a special logo and a “stronger events calendar to engage the community.” This fall, catch the Oktoberfest Celebration, Family Fall Festival and Thanksgiving Day Feast.
Boler says, “I think that any resort that has been able to sustain itself over that period of time and create a legacy and continue to build on it is really, really unique, and it’s something to be celebrated.”
RENOVATED AND REFRESHED
After Lake Lawn closed for a brief time in 2010, a group of local investors set out to revive the resort and it has come back better than ever. In early summer, Boler shared that Lake Lawn was likely experiencing its strongest operating quarter since reopening, something he attributes to the capital improvements that have been made.
These renovations have included a $4.5 million revamp of a bank of guest rooms called Lakewood Lodge, now outfitted with an outdoor pool and deck, interior remodeling and redecorating and a private pier. In 2012, the resort launched its Calladora Spa, a 9,000-square-foot source of serenity with a lounge and 10 treatment rooms. The Pro Shop on the Majestic Oaks golf course received a full makeover as well, with a three-season room for group events, new retail merchandising and locker rooms. In recent years, 285 trees were planted on the golf course and an additional 150 trees were added throughout other areas of the resort.
And that’s just scratching the surface. The fitness center was rebooted, the Timber Indoor Pool was improved and the Isle of Capri and Lookout Bar restaurants are showcasing upgraded kitchens and fresh décor.
The latest renovations will include remodeling indoor public spaces and refreshing them with new flooring, furniture and lighting.
Lake Lawn is known for its peaceful spaces and scenery, but it has elevated the art of relaxation through its Calladora Spa. Marked by soothing colors and an expansive selection of spa services — everything from a gentleman’s pedicure to its signature sugar scrub, and of course, hot stone massages — it’s considered one of the premier spas in this region.
Boler says, “The main entrance area is on ground level, and then there’s a subterranean area that is really soft and relaxing. It helps take guests away from the hectic and fast-paced aspects of their lives, and it’s been a big part of our renovation.”
There are several golf courses throughout the Lakes Area, but Lake Lawn’s championship 18-hole Majestic Oaks Golf Course stands out from the rest for one reason: “This golf course has some absolutely amazing lake views,” Boler says, adding, “It’s convenient, affordable and a well-operated course.”
The on-site dining options are outstanding as well. The Frontier Restaurant specializes in fine dining and is under the direction of Master Chef Jeffrey Robinson, who Boler says “has excellent culinary expertise and a fantastic reputation.” The Lookout Bar, with its nautical theme and casual menu, also offers outdoor dining on its patio. Many patrons even arrive by boat for dinner at the Lookout. Afterward, a stop at the Isle of Capri Café for coffee and a scoop of gelato is a must.
The resort has plenty of opportunities to get moving with its three swimming pools (two outdoor and one indoor) or at its fitness center, which was refreshed recently with performance flooring and all new equipment.
SOAKING UP THE LAKE
It wouldn’t be a trip to Lake Lawn without relishing in fun activities on the lake, and the resort has offerings in spades. There’s a private marina with 170 slips that can be leased for the season, plus there are slips for locals to park their boats for a couple hours and revel in the resort.
Lake Lawn has more watersport rentals than ever with a variety of options: speedboats, pontoons, paddleboards, kayaks, waverunners and the newest craze — a pedalboard, a hybrid of a paddleboard and an elliptical machine that’ll speed up your paddling tour of the lake.
If you’d prefer someone else to do the work, Lake Lawn has 90-minute boat tours every day in which you’ll learn Native American history and view historic homes, some designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.
Even special events at the resort find a way to have a lake influence. Booking an average of 70 weddings per year, Lake Lawn has installed two lakeside wedding venues that overlook the water, one that’s made for large events and another for small gatherings. The resort’s 22 meeting spaces as well as a team building staff are at the ready to include outdoor elements into any gathering. Boler explains, “We take them out of the conference room or ballroom and incorporate experiences and team-building activities right on the lakefront or water.”
No matter where you go at Lake Lawn, whether it’s walking through the glass-lined hallways, strolling the newly-poured cement walkway that skims the shore or sitting in a rocking chair on a patio off your hotel room, the spirit of the lake is always there, serving as a metaphorical ebb and flow that matches the history of this celebrated resort.
Boler sums it up, saying, “Lake Lawn is this combination of nature, casualness and simplicity. You’re going to find warm, engaging environments using rustic wood that compliments the natural setting that combines all these mature trees and the lakeside setting. We make sure that the guest has the very best experience here. Those are the things that define Lake Lawn Resort.”