By Shayna Mace | Photography Courtesy Of The Ridge Hotel
Stepping into the lobby of The Ridge Hotel one can feel a palpable sense of change and buzzy energy. The once-traditional lodge interior of The Lodge at Geneva Ridge has been stripped away and an energetic, modern new look has emerged with blond wood walls, gray Italian porcelain wood-look flooring, sleek, contemporary furniture and statement light fixtures throughout. A new coffee and wine bar called Bean + Vine greets visitors right away and steps away is Crafted Americana, a comfortable yet stylish restaurant featuring craft beers and cocktails and an innovative menu.
“We just felt like [the hotel] needed a fresh new look that wasn’t like anywhere in Lake Geneva, and I think that’s what we achieved,” says Pamela Chambers, owner of Paloma Resort Properties that manages The Ridge Hotel.
FROM LODGE TO LUXURY
Past hotel guests and Geneva Lakes area residents have likely known the hotel as a few different names throughout its forty-plus year history. Opened as a Holiday Inn in the 1970s, the resort then changed names to The Interlaken, Geneva Ridge and The Lodge at Geneva Ridge. Its most recent iteration had a rustic, lodge feel with dark wood walls, low ceilings, a traditional fireplace and warm, cozy colors throughout. So when Paloma Resort Properties announced the intention to rebrand and redesign the hotel in the winter of 2016, they worked in partnership with CallisonRTKL, a Chicago architecture firm, to guide them through the process.
“They really wanted something unique and different,” explains Lori Mukoyama, vice president at CallisonRTKL. “They were also looking for tourists to come up and for locals to have another option for dining. Even though they may not stay, they can come to the café and hang out.”
In winter of 2016 the resort started the second phase of their extensive lobby and restaurant renovations, which included facelifts of the restrooms, gift shop and hallways and the addition of the new Bean + Vine Café. In April 2016, the hotel was officially renamed and rebranded as The Ridge Hotel and the new lobby and café were unveiled. Crafted Americana opened shortly after in June.
For inspiration in the lobby redesign, CallisonRTKL turned to nature; specifically, the hotel’s picturesque wooded lakeshore property on Lake Como.
“When you’re in the space, you’ll notice there are these amazing windows that bring in beautiful light. And before, the spaces were very dark and heavy, and it made the spaces feel oppressive,” says Mukoyama. “[Paloma] wanted something light and airy and connecting the inside to the outside, which is why there aren’t any heavy drapes or anything like that. We used the woods, and greens and blues to bring in the sky and the outside, inside.”
Indeed, design materials and accents are used thoughtfully to highlight the lobby’s openness and create an inviting space for guests. Peri Peng, associate with CallisonRTKL, says that cues in the lighting, such as the horizontal bars scattered in the maple-planked walls, and the gray cutout ceiling fixtures, act as visual cues to draw guests in further to the space.
“We installed these large perforated panels suspended at different heights in the ceiling that create interesting shadows when you walk in,” says Peng. “These also give subtle directional cues to where people should walk.”
To the immediate left of the entrance is a large open lounge area with different clusters of seating, perfect for reading, meetings or casual coffee meetups. These spaces were carefully thought out as well, says Mukoyama.
“Peri picked out all of the seating, and she picked out unique things [for each area] so that there are only two of a kind of a chair, or of a sofa, which creates an interesting look. She also picked out all of the fabrics for the chairs and had pillows made.”
Peng and Mukoyama especially like the reception area to the right, with three stand-alone desks rather than one long table, for a pleasant guest check-in experience. Panels behind the desks on the wall have a drapery look but are actually drywall, which “add texture and flair to the space,” adds Peng. A custom acrylic light fixture adds some pop to the spot.
FROM CAFFEINE TO CORKS
The addition of Bean + Vine was an exciting and strategic one — and one that Chambers is thrilled about.
“Our goal as a resort hotel was to create a spot that where local people could come to have coffee, work and have meetings. We wanted something that would appeal to locals as well as create an environment that hotel guests would love. It’s an exciting place instead of a lobby that people walk through just to get somewhere else,” says Chambers.
A long, glossy white communal table with sleek, sparkling pendant lighting above beckons friends and coworkers in to collaborate and nosh on Bean + Vine’s savory selection of breakfast and lunch sandwiches, flatbreads and baked goods. Director of Food and Beverage Robert Johnson notes that all of the baked goods like scones, muffins and more are all made in-house and even reflect the seasons — like pumpkin pie Rice Krispies treats in the fall. Milwaukee-based Colectivo Coffee and Rishi Tea round out the lovely mix.
Guests can also pick up a bottle of wine, local craft beer or beverage from the carefully stocked coolers in Bean + Vine to enjoy on a fall afternoon on the outdoor terrace. Johnson says he rotates the wine selection frequently and tries to feature Midwest makers like Wollersheim Winery and New Glarus Brewing Company, among others.
Johnson is happy that both food and beverage spots within the resort will get more year-round use now, too.
“It’s a great atmosphere and a great place to be, and really modern,” he says. “When you walk in, people are like ‘Wow’ — it brings that wow factor. We want to make sure people have the best guest experience possible.”
THE ART OF CRAFTED
The design of Crafted Americana, the resort’s new dining space, is jaw-droppingly beautiful — and a complete departure from the former Lakeview Grille. CallisonRTKL imagined a space that referenced new as well as old elements, or as Callison RTKL Associate Peri Peng puts it, “a little bit of an old world feel, but in a modern way.”
Instead of a blue and green palette like in The Ridge’s lobby, the space is infused with warm amber, brown and cream tones that pay reverence to the spectacular sunsets that guests see out of the panoramic windows facing Lake Como, says Lori Mukoyama, vice president with CallisonRTKL.
“There’s a lot of push-and-pull [in the materials] which creates a contrast to one another so it’s more eclectic,” explains Mukoyama. “The front of the bar has a marble look to it which contrasts with the Edison bulbs that hang overhead. In the lounge area, we have the older-looking bookcase but then the furniture is clean with pretty fabrics on it.”
Faux leather banquettes, graphic wallpapered walls, patterned tile under the bar (that is supposed to look like carpet) and spectacular black iron chandeliers with emerald-cut glass accents polish off the room wonderfully.
“The bar has a more upscale look, but it’s approachable for everyone,” says Robert Johnson, director of food and beverage. “I have a lot of people ask if there’s a dress code … and I say, come off of the golf course, we’re fine with that. We want everyone to feel comfortable.”
The name references the handcrafted menu that chef Ricky Lund put together, building all of the flavor components by hand. Look for cheese curds dipped in Spotted Cow beer batter, house-smoked bourbon barbecue ribs, and Wisconsin beer cheddar mac ‘n’ cheese with pork and fried leeks. To complement the cuisine, custom craft cocktails and 30 craft beers are a lovely addition to any meal (or happy hour). And the entire space, whether it’s at a high-backed banquette in the bar or along a window in the restaurant — encourages guests to linger a little while.
“We loved enlivening the space and envisioning something,” says Mukoyama. “We were just really happy that we could give this new [space] new life and energize it in every way.”