The Hendryx Beach Retreat House, tucked away on West Arm Grand Traverse Bay, shines as a surprising new discovery four miles south of Suttons Bay. It just opened in late 2018.
Proprietor Cheryl Hutchinson believes in sustainable restoration. So when she purchased the 1890-era lodge from the family of author James Hendryx, she kept the original structure intact, reusing and restoring everything in the building, including the stone base and wooden floors.
Hendryx’s lodge reflected his life as an outdoorsman who wrote some 56 novels and scores of short stories, mostly about his favorite settings in the Canadian and Alaskan wilderness. The successful author who traveled North America extensively died in Traverse City in 1963 at the age of 83. It’s said he loved to play poker in an upstairs room at the lodge with friends and that he even lost some of his surrounding property in a friendly wager.
His former lakefront lodge, now a remodeled three-story getaway, is nestled in the woods with an expansive deck providing inspiring sunrise-side lake views and 160 feet of private beach and shoreline. A lucky guest might even spot a bald eagle that lives in a nearby 200-year-old pine tree. The rustic elegance of the house gives off both a calming and motivating presence conducive for smaller gatherings, such as retreats or business meetings, all with available overnight accommodations.
“Whether you’re coming here to do an off-site or have a mixture of pleasure and meetings, it just seems to have all the components for a really relaxing, successful spot,” Hutchinson says. “You decompress, but you’re also revitalized. There’s something about being surrounded by the natural beauty here, whether it’s the water or the woods.”
The property is a 10-bedroom, six-bathroom lodge that can sleep 12-22 guests, depending on whether groups choose to bring spouses. The lodge is rented on an exclusive basis to groups and lends itself well to roundtable discussions and teambuilding activities. Groups can make their stay an experience all their own, including an option to cater food for an event with one of Hutchinson’s suppliers, bring along their own chef, or share in cooking duties in the retreat house’s fully equipped kitchen.
While the property feels remote, it’s a short 10-mile drive north of Traverse City along M-22 with easy access to nearby attractions, such as Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and notable Leelanau Peninsula wineries. There is plenty to do both on the property and nearby. Activities for groups include biking, stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking, golfing, sailing and snowshoeing.
Hutchinson has hosted several yoga retreats at the lodge because the 2,000-square-foot deck that overlooks Lake Michigan is perfect for exercising.
“The lodge and the overall environment it offered allowed a ‘clear the mechanism’ freshness for everyone on our team,” says the head of HR administration at a financial services company that stayed at the lodge for its annual planning retreat.
“We arrived with all of our corporate, office, budget, compliance, colleague baggage and were transformed in a way that allowed us to engage with a clean slate and an open and unencumbered mind as we imagined and planned for what could be achieved in the coming year,” she adds.
The property also features a vintagestyle barn with about 2,000 square feet of event space and an attached apartment that could house an event planner or chef.
She owns another rental property in Suttons Bay, a historic stone schoolhouse converted into condos that can host 16 guests. So groups could split up to sleep at night and come together at the retreat house during the day.