BUSINESS PROFILE: The Gathering Lodge
The Gathering Lodge is a relaxing, spacious vacation rental on Swan Lake
By Carol Stender
For 11 years, Billy and Tanya Gronwold and their five children called their rural Fergus Falls log house home. Now they invite others to experience the fun and peaceful property they call The Gathering Lodge.
The vacation rental is aptly named. It’s the perfect spot for family and friends to gather, enjoy, and relax.
It sits on six spacious acres by a bay on Swan Lake. During the summer the bay offers boating opportunities and, in winter, it’s an ice rink. There are fire pits - with wood provided by the Gronwolds - and a hot tub right out the back door with an open, nicely landscaped yard great for lawn games in the summer, and a lighted sledding hill in the winter.
Inside, the log home has six bedrooms and four and a half bathrooms. It can sleep up to 30 people with the addition of pull out couches. Technically it’s three stories with a unique room on top with windows on all sides giving guests a great bird’s eye view of the lake and trees.
The Gronwolds lived in Fergus Falls before moving out to the property. They lived in a trailer house located where the sandbox and playhouse are now located, Tanya said. When they considered which type of home to construct on the property, a log home was the strongest contender. The fact that Billy had always wanted a log home was a strong consideration. After he extensively researched log home construction, they made plans to build one for the family.
They worked with a construction company to get Western Red Cedar logs from California which were shipped to the site via semi-truck, she said. One large log is the foundation structure for the two-story custom log spiral staircase.
“We didn’t envision this would eventually become a vacation rental,” she said. “It was our home.”
When another property was for sale in the area, they purchased it and built a new home. They considered selling the log home, but then came fate.
The couple was at a marriage retreat in Aitkin when their friends made comments about the vacation rental house where they all were staying.
“You could do this with your home,” they told the couple.
The seed of an idea was planted and the couple considered the possibilities. They prepared it as a vacation rental and opened November 2020.
Although it was during the COVID pandemic, the Gronwolds didn’t experience any hardship with the property.
“…Because most of the time people would rent it to get away,” Tanya said. “People weren’t traveling, but this was a good spot for family to spread out.”
The property has remained popular.
“We get a lot of families that stay here like Grandma and Grandpa and their children and their grandchildren,” Tanya said. “Grandparents may gift a stay for their children which is really a fun idea.”
When they built the home, they included an apartment on the lower level which now is perfect for the property offering another bedroom, living room, and kitchen area plus bar.
The main level has an open floor plan for the living area which includes a large kitchen perfect for preparing and serving meals. It overlooks the living area and its fireplace. And there are plenty of books and games besides relaxing seating perfect for visiting and relaxing.
Upstairs the bedrooms are spacious with a master bedroom on the main floor and an ensuite that has a jacuzzi.
The Gathering Lodge has a relaxing vibe, but there’s also plenty to do. Upstairs there’s a craft and art room complete with sink, and downstairs there are games and books. A garage area features a ping-pong table plus there are yard games for outdoor fun. The game room offers pool, darts, air hockey, and foosball, she said.
Guests can enjoy the lake access and the lodge’s kayaks and canoes. Boats or a pontoon can be rented, and a local company will deliver it to The Gathering Lodge’s dock.
Lights in the trees give a great ambiance at night whether guests enjoy sledding or ice skating, plus the fire pit by the bay or, during summer, the hot tub, patio area and fire pit near the log home.
There’s also a sandbox and playhouse for younger guests to enjoy.
The Gathering Lodge, which is located near the Central Lakes Trail perfect for bikers and walking. There’s also a nice 18-hole golf course just a couple of miles from the lodge. Snowmobile trails and alpine and cross country ski opportunities are also in close proximity to the property. Sledding is available onsite and at locations in Fergus Falls.
All linens and towels are provided, plus small shampoo and conditioners. The family lives within easy access of the property should any needs arise.
For an extra treat, guests are offered coffee from beans roasted at Stumbeanos and chocolates made by TC Chocolates - both located in Fergus Falls.
It’s proving to be a popular spot from throughout the U.S., Tanya said. Guests have come from throughout the country. Besides families, sorority groups, friend groups, couple groups and work retreats have rented The Gathering Lodge. Clients of Pit Properties, a hunting guide service for individuals and organizations like Band of Brothers and the American Heroes Outdoors have also utilized the home.
“It’s fun because they are all gathering and being together, she said.
The Gathering Lodge can be rented on Airbnb and VRBO websites. Learn more at their Facebook page and on their Instagram account.
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