Friday, September 13, 2013

Day 124 - Staying at the Heidel House

I have never stayed at the Heidel House. I realize to most people this won’t mean anything, but to me it’s a pretty big deal. Growing up in central Wisconsin, the Heidel House Resort and Spa was known as one of the most elegant and lavish resorts within any reasonable distance. Positioned on the east end of Green Lake in Wisconsin, I have always known the Heidel House to be the place the affluent go to spend a weekend getaway at one of the state’s most beautiful lakes. When I was younger, the Heidel House’s reputation made seem as though it was almost untouchable, and I thought for the longest time I would never have a chance to stay at the resort. As of today, that changed when a major life event brought me back to Green Lake and provided me the first opportunity in my life to stay at the Heidel House.

You see, tomorrow my brother Abe is getting married to his amazing fiancée Melissa, and the two of them asked Rachael and I to stand up in their wedding. Honored by the idea of being a part of my brother’s big day, we happily accepted our roles in the wedding, which brought us to Green Lake today. With the wedding taking place on the Heidel House grounds, we booked a room and prepared for an unforgettable weekend. Of course, the first step in that process was making the trip up north and finding our way to the resort, which led to today’s new experience.

The entrance

Upon arriving at the Heidel House, I was struck by the familiarity of the location. In the years since I left my hometown of Princeton, the Heidel House property has remained largely unchanged. As a result, I found it easy to track down the hotel lobby and check into our room. Luckily, the process was fairly easy, which led Rachael and I to find our room and unload our car. With armloads of bags and wedding materials in our arms, we entered into our wing of the hotel and made our way to our room. As we walked through the building, I took note of the hotel’s basic, dated interior and typical hotel décor. Before we had even made it into our room, I found myself slightly disappointed by the first impression I received from the hotel. With a reputation of extravagance, I guess I expected more from the Heidel House, but it was clear there wasn’t much more to the place than any other run of the mill hotel.

$180 per night?!?!
Eventually, Rachael and I found our hotel room and made our way inside. As with the other parts of the hotel’s accommodation wings, I was surprised to find there was nothing special about our room. It was simply a basic setup that would have been equally at home in La Quinta or a Super 8. Two queen size beds covered in basic hotel spreads and a full dresser supporting a television sat atop aged green carpet that wound all the way to the door. The bathroom had flimsy, hollow doors that led to weathered fixtures and a basic bathroom setup. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t the degree of quality I had in mind when I envisioned the Heidel House during the days of my youth. After placing our bags in the hotel room, I approached the one set of windows on the far side of the room and looked out. Although we were staying at a lakeside resort, our room faced the hotel’s main parking lot and overlooked the hotel lobby doors. “At least we can see when people get here...” I said to Rachael as she joined me to take in the view. At $180 per night, it was easy to feel disappointed with the accommodations, but I knew the room would only serve as a resting place during such a momentous weekend, and I was more than happy to fork over the dough to be a part of Abe and Melissa’s big day.

The patio

Once our bags were organized and we were ready for the evening, Rachael and I joined my brother and the rest of the wedding party for a few quick drinks as the final materials and decorations for the reception dinner were being put together by a handful of people. We took some time to talk through the plans for the evening before the group dispersed to prepare for the rehearsal dinner. Given Rachael and I were already prepared for the night, we took some time to walk around the Heidel House grounds and take in the views of Green Lake. In the late afternoon light, the gardens, terraces, and beaches along the resort’s shore provided a peaceful backdrop for our walk. As we spent time walking the length of the Heidel House property, it became more apparent what made the resort so special. Its placement on one of the quietest shores of Green Lake and the amazing sunset views offered by the grounds made it a uniquely peaceful place to spend a weekend. While the accommodations could use a facelift, the scenery provided plenty of reasons to stay at the Heidel House. Plus, the tradeoff gave us plenty of reasons to get outside, which I wasn’t opposed to on a beautiful weekend in early September.

After a rehearsal dinner off of the resort grounds, Rachael and I found our way back to the Heidel House and met back up with the wedding party at the onsite bar and restaurant. For the remainder of the night we spent time with the wedding crew telling stories and sharing laughs around the fire on a nearby patio overlooking the lake. The sounds of our conversations and laughter were the only things echoing through the stillness of the night, which provided a constant undertone of serenity as we enjoyed our drinks and our company. There was no doubt about it, we were having a relaxing, enjoyable evening lakeside, which was an obvious strong point during my first stay at the Heidel House.

Ultimately, our pending obligations for tomorrow’s ceremony and reception meant we all needed to call it a night. Sometime after midnight I found my way back to our room where Rachael was already prepared for bed. Luckily, I found the bed to be incredibly comfortable after the busy day, which made it easy to transition from “party mode” to “sleep mode.” As I lay in bed fighting off heavy eyelids to finish these remaining sentences, I can’t help but look forward to tomorrow. I know it will be a day to remember; much like my first experience staying at the Heidel House. Although the accommodations weren’t exactly what I expected when I arrived, my first experience staying at the Heidel House resort will be marked with the events that made today so special. Walking with Rachael by the lake, enjoying drinks in the boathouse bar, and being among good company around the fire are things that will stick with me for a long time, and, to me, that’s enough to justify the Heidel House’s storied reputation.


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