• Pier with tarped equipment.
  • Shop with empty fridge.
  • Boat covered in a tarp.

If you’ve ever pulled up our live beach cam in February, you already know our Lake Vermilion waterfront is a very different place in the winter than in the summer. All the plants are removed from the planters, and the hanging baskets are returned to the greenhouse so they can be re-used in the spring. Chairs, tables, and chaise lounges are stacked together and covered with tarps, as are the Hydrobikes and other water toys. If you logged on to the webcam at just the right moment, you might have seen Michael in his wetsuit, diving to the bottom of the lake to untether the climbing iceberg.

The waterfront is only one small part of the mammoth yearly project of shutting down the resort, and we thought you might be interested in a behind-the-scenes look at how it’s all done!

Cabins are, of course, cleaned after the final guests depart each October. In addition to the normal cleaning, batteries are removed from remotes and smoke detectors, and all water is drained from the cabin. It’s important this get done quickly, as water pipes at the resort are largely exposed and susceptible to freezing. Once cabins are cleaned and drained, power is turned off for the winter. The exception to this is Northstar cabin, which is kept “on” throughout the winter months. Our staff use the cabin’s kitchen for lunch breaks, and family and friends of Ludlows sometimes stay. Paul and his siblings grew up in Northstar, and they’re known to spend time in the cabin during the off season.

Lori loads her computer and files into a boat at the end of the season and moves her office to the town of Cook for the winter months, to a building known as the BIC Building, after Sally and Mark Ludlow’s long-time real estate company, BIC Realty. The real estate company was recently sold but is still housed, along with several other businesses, in the building owned by the Ludlow family. Interestingly, the resort phone number rings year-round at both the office in town and the island office, as well as at Paul and Kelly Ludlow’s home above the lodge.

After Lori has moved to her office in town, the lodge is transformed into a workspace. The comfy couches and chairs are moved to storage to make room for winter projects like sanding and refinishing cabin furniture. The aquarium fish are returned to the lake by first placing them in a large container filled with water from the aquarium. The container is placed, halfway submerged, in the lake until the water temperature inside it is the same as the temperature of the lake. Once the water temperatures are equal, the fish can be returned to the lake safely.

On the south shore, a day or so is usually spent shutting down the fitness complex. Pickleball and tennis nets are disassembled, rolled, and placed in the Kids Craft boat for winter storage, along with the fitness center’s patio furniture. The Kids Craft is then covered with a 40 x 60-foot tarp. Like the cabins, water is drained from the fitness center bathrooms, and power is turned off for the winter. The racquetball court is used as critter-proof storage for bedding and towels.

All food items are pulled from the pantry; perishables are donated, and non-perishables are stored for the winter. Fridges and freezers are emptied and cleaned, and items are moved to Northstar cabin’s kitchen to be used by staff throughout the winter. Spa lotions, nail polishes, etc. are moved to the lodge for heated storage, and the spa building is drained of water and powered down. Rental boats are pulled from the lake, pressure washed, and transported to off-site indoor storage for the winter.

Finally, with any luck at all, there will be a window between when the last leaves have fallen and the first snow. During this time, resort staff hurry to remove leaves and debris from cabin roofs and flush out gutters. The entire resort, island, north shore, and south shore all the way to the road, is raked.

It’s quite a list for the handful of our year-round staff to get through in a short amount of time! When shutdown is all said and done, most staff take a little time off to travel and spend time with family. After that, it’s right back to work with cabin updates and remodels. Check out our upcoming blog to see which cabins are getting remodels this winter!