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Developers Doug Rohde and Joel Cairy Open The 102 room
Lodge at Brainerd Lakes & Paul Bunyan Water Park

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MINNEAPOLIS, September 6, 2005 – 10,000 square feet of meeting and convention space for groups of 12 to 500. Private, 14-seat boardroom and five breakout rooms. State-of-the-art facilities featuring high-speed wireless Internet, on-site AV and support, and complete event catering. Ballroom with fieldstone fireplace, hardwood dance floor and two-story vaulted ceilings. All in a luxury resort hotel setting that gives new meaning to the phrase “business retreat.” Welcome to The Lodge at Brainerd Lakes.

The Lodge at Brainerd Lakes, which opened in August, 2005, is the cornerstone of a new development in Baxter, Minnesota that caters to a broad range of guests beyond the obvious vacationing crowd. Specifically, it is a premier location for business meetings and group events. 

Beyond the luxurious, four-story modern lodge design, with its sweeping views, natural wood and stone fireplaces, and unique design elements that bring the history and character of the locale to the great indoors -- this property is wired for business of any variety. From corporate meetings and events to weddings and family reunions, it offers state-of-the-art facilities and amenities that are unparalleled anywhere in the surrounding area:

  • 10,000 square feet of flexible meeting space seating for groups of 12 to 500
  • Beautiful, lodge-style ballroom featuring fieldstone fireplace, hardwood dance floor and two-story vaulted ceilings
  • 5 breakout rooms
  • Private, 14-seat boardroom 
  • High-speed wireless Internet
  • On-site AV and support
  • Fully catered events & on-site restaurant (Rockwoods Grill & Backwater Bar, which features a diverse menu -- from broiled walleye and wood-fired sea scallops to pot roast, hearty burgers and wood-fired pizzas)
But what happens outside the boardroom? After the wedding?

Not to be outdone by the meeting facilities, guestrooms are thoughtfully “outfitted” with furniture made for the property by Lonesome Cottage in Pequot Lakes. No detail was spared, right down to the 24 inches of insulation between walls, floor to floor, ensuring peace and quiet for all guests. And, like the meeting facilities, room options provide something for everyone:

  • 102 spacious, quiet guestrooms so large they’re referred to as “cabins” (some with fireplaces and whirlpool tubs)
  • Luxury suites including 3 loft suites; 3-room kids-themed suite; Cinema suite with 26-inch television, Xbox and Playstation; and a huge, 3-room entertainment suite with a full kitchen (3-room suites sleep up to 25 people)
  • Dataports, voicemail, microwaves and refrigerators in all rooms
And there’s more. 

The Lodge at Brainerd Lakes also includes the new, 30,000-square-foot Paul Bunyan Water Park. Like everything else at the property, the water park is state-of-the art. It is the first in Minnesota (and the second in the nation) to utilize the most advanced interactive, virtual-reality technology available, which allows tube-slide riders choose from a variety of holographic rides -- complete with sound, lights and video. Riders who choose the Northwoods program, for example, “crash” through walls of water displaying alternating images of Paul Bunyan’s ax swinging into trees as they thunder to the ground, and “collisions” with log jams. There are also less thrilling options for those who desire a milder experience, and the holograms can even be customized, allowing corporate guests to include a water wall displaying an image of its chief executive officer, for example.

The water park also features a variety of less dramatic activities, including a zero-depth entry pool, lazy river, plunge pool, Jacuzzi tub, indoor/outdoor activity pool, video arcade, large mezzanine level with lounge chairs, and a snack bar operated by the Rockwoods group – which offers a variety of food items such as beer, wine and non-alcoholic beverages. And because the number one cause of injuries in water parks is related to slippery floor conditions, the water park will be the first in the world to utilize a newly developed soft-land flooring on all surfaces carrying pedestrian traffic.

The Lodge at Brainerd Lakes is the brainchild of Doug Rohde, who is co-developing the property along with his business partner, Joel Cairy, and a group of other business associates. Rohde, who owns the Lodge at Brainerd Lakes’ sister property, The Lodge at Crooked Lake in Siren, Wisconsin, is no newcomer to the hospitality industry. With a career spanning two decades, he has held a variety of senior management positions at Hilton, Marriott, and Sunstone Hotel Group, among others.

“I knew what was working for The Lodge in Siren, and I felt it could be duplicated, but also expanded upon,” Rohde said. “During the site selection process, I spent a lot of time looking at resort hotels in Northern Minnesota and Wisconsin, and the water park connection was fairly obvious. What sets the property apart is that it offers these state-of-the-art “r&r” opportunities alongside the most high-end meeting and convention facilities available anywhere in the surrounding area.” 

The Lodge at Brainerd Lakes is located approximately 2.25 hours from the Twin Cities, on 10.5 acres just off Highway 371 (also known as the Paul Bunyan Expressway) in Baxter, Minnesota. To find out more about the property, visit www.lodgehotels.com.

A Brief History: The Lodge at Brainerd Lakes & Paul Bunyan Water Park

  • The Lodge at Brainerd Lakes & Paul Bunyan Water Park is a joint venture between a group of Twin Cities developers, including Joel Cairy and Doug Rohde. Cairy and Rohde are managing partners of Lodge Hotels & Resorts, and collaborate on all aspects of The Lodge at Brainerd Lakes & Paul Bunyan Water Park’s development -- including design, construction, marketing and on-site management.
  • The Lodge at Brainerd Lakes & Paul Bunyan Water Park represents Phase II of a development initiative that began in 2001 and is projected to expand to 20 properties nationwide within the next few years. The initiative began with The Lodge at Crooked Lake Hotel & Conference Center in Siren, Wisconsin, which is owned by Rohde. The Lodge at Crooked Lake anchors The Lodge Village development, a concept which offers guests a variety of on-site shops and services -- including a salon/spa, coffee shop, scrapbooking shop, Picture Gallery and General Store. The property also features the Timbers Movie Theater; its own stadium-seating, 4-screen  multiplex featuring first-run films.
  • The Brainerd Lakes development is “sister” to the Crooked Lake property, echoing its luxury resort hotel appeal and range of amenities, as well as its architectural and design style. While the Crooked Lake property does not feature a water park, the Brainerd Lakes property does, with room for additional growth. A variety of expansion plans are currently under consideration, including the development of an all-inclusive “Village” that follows in the successful footsteps of the Lodge Village development.
The Lodge at Brainerd Lakes & Paul Bunyan Water Park represents one of the hottest national trends in the hospitality industry: indoor hotel water parks. These resorts have emerged as a leisure destination for families looking for a convenient weekend getaway or vacation. In keeping with this trend, new construction is growing rapidly, and technology is becoming highly sophisticated. The newest wave of water parks are bigger, better, and appeal to a much broader audience (not just for kids and families anymore), which is forcing many existing water parks to re-evaluate their focus and undertake expensive and time-consuming expansions and renovations.
 
 
The Lodge at Brainerd Lakes & Paul Bunyan Water Park
FAQs

What is The Lodge at Brainerd Lakes & Paul Bunyan Water Park, and who should want to stay there?

The Lodge at Brainerd Lakes & Paul Bunyan Water Park is a 10.5-acre development that features a 102-room, lodge-style luxury resort hotel with 10,000 square feet of meeting and convention space, attached to a 30,000-square-foot indoor water park. The property is designed to accommodate families and vacationers of all types and sizes, as well as business travelers and meeting and convention guests.

What is the exact location of the development?

The Lodge at Brainerd Lakes & Paul Bunyan Water Park is located on State Highway 371, also known as the Paul Bunyan Expressway, the north gateway to the city of Baxter, Minnesota. Specifically, it is west of Highway 371, north of Woida Road, and south of Crow Wing County Road 77 in Baxter. It is part of the wider lake country region that has come to be known as the Brainerd Lakes area.

What specific amenities does The Lodge at Brainerd Lakes & Paul Bunyan Water Park offer?

• 102 hotel rooms including 6 themed suites
• 10,000 square feet of flexible meeting and convention facilities
• 30,000-square-foot indoor water park featuring 500 feet of interactive, themed water slides with holographic images and sounds, zero-depth entry pool, snack shop, arcade and two party rooms (first in Minnesota and second in the US to offer state-of-the-art hologrammed tube slides)
• Full-service on-site restaurant (Rockwoods Grill & Backwater Bar), room service and event catering
• Business center
• Fitness center

What makes The Lodge at Brainerd Lakes & Paul Bunyan Water Park different from other resort hotels, and water parks, in the area?

The Paul Bunyan Water Park is the first in Minnesota and second in the nation to utilize the most advanced interactive technology available, featuring tube slides with “walls of water” that display holographic images complete with sound, lights and video. (Holograms are full-color images that appear to be three-dimensional.) Riders use a touch pad to choose from different themed holographic “experiences,” such as Northwoods, Ocean Adventure, Rainforest and Space Odyssey. An internal computer randomly chooses “sub-options” within each of the themed categories, making for virtually endless variations within each theme. Riders who choose the Northwoods program, for example, “crash” through walls of water displaying alternating images of Paul Bunyan’s ax swinging into trees as they thunder to the ground, and “collisions” with log jams. There are also less thrilling options for younger riders, or  those who desire a milder experience. The holograms are also customizable, allowing corporate guests to include a water wall displaying an image of its chief executive officer, for example.  It is possible to spend an entire day at the water park and never experience the same ride twice.

For those who aren’t necessarily interested in jettisoning down a 45-foot tower of water, the water park also features a variety of activities that make a less dramatic splash, including:

  • Zero-depth entry pool with play apparatus for smaller children
  • Lazy river; plunge pool; indoor/outdoor Jacuzzi tub; and large indoor activity pool for older kids, with basketball hoop and Paul Bunyan Water Walk (kids hold onto a cargo net suspended over pool  as they attempt to navigate log floats)
  • Large mezzanine level with lounge chairs
  • Snack bar with separate seating for kids and adults, operated by the Rockwoods group and offering a varied menu of food items as well as soft drinks, beer, wine and specialty drinks
  • 2,100-square-foot video arcade room for kids and adults
The number one cause of injuries in water parks is related to slippery floor conditions. In response to this situation, the Paul Bunyan Water Park is the first in the world to utilize a newly developed soft-land flooring on all surfaces carrying pedestrian traffic. The product, called Soft Floor™, is completely non-porus, which means that no water, chemicals, or bacteria of any sort are absorbed, ensuring a much safer, more hygienic experience.

The Lodge at Brainerd Lakes & Paul Bunyan Water Park is not just a hotel, and not just a water park. It offers guests endless amenities -- meeting facilities that rival anything available in the Twin Cities, and a boundless variety of good-old-fashioned and state-of-the-art rest & relaxation options. It is the best of all worlds, in a setting of laid-back northwoods luxury.

What surrounds The Lodge at Brainerd Lakes & Paul Bunyan Water Park?

The development is just minutes from several area attractions, including:

  • 450 holes of championship golf (such as The Legacy, The Pines at Grandview, The Preserve at Grandview, Deacon’s Lodge, Pine Beach, Pine Meadows, and Bobby’s Legacy)
  • Brainerd International Raceway
  • Paul Bunyan Land at This Old Farm
  • Paul Bunyan Biking and Snowmobile Trail
  • The Mississippi River and many pristine recreational lakes and trails
  • Brainerd Civic Center and Gold Medal Area
  • Retail developments (such as Target, Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Kohl’s, Menard’s, Fleet Farm and Home Depot)
  • Restaurants (such as 371 Diner, Applebee’s, Arby’s, Bar Harbor, Black Bear, Bonanza Steak House, Grizzley’s, Iven’s on the Bay, Perkins, Poncho and Lefty’s, and Prairie Bay)
What is the architecture and design of The Lodge at Brainerd Lakes & Paul Bunyan Water Park like?

The Lodge at Brainerd Lakes is designed to echo the luxurious yet natural rustic style of its sister property, The Lodge at Crooked Lake, which is located in Siren, Wisconsin. A inviting, modern lodge experience, the four-story Lodge at Brainerd Lakes combines the cozy warmth of natural wood and stone fireplaces with sweeping views and truly unique design details, such as 30 to 40 antique boat motors displayed alongside antique tools used by lumberjacks. Local businesses have provided many of the accessories. For example, furniture was made for The Lodge by Lonesome Cottage in Pequot Lakes.

How far along is construction; is the property open for business?

Construction began with the groundbreaking in August of 2004, and the property (hotel and water park) opened in August of this year. Reservations are currently being taken for weddings, business meetings, and other events. The on-site restaurant, Rockwoods Grill & Backwater Bar, will open on September 19, 2005.

Why is Baxter, Minnesota, a good place to build the hotel and water park?

The trend in indoor hotel water parks has been growing over the last several years. One of the biggest reasons for this continued growth is that having a water park on-site allows a property to extend its peak season to year-round. Currently, there are more than 1,000 water parks worldwide, and more than half of them are in the United States. Hotels with indoor water parks are growing from 23% to 29% annually, while the overall hotel industry room supply grew just 1.2% in 2004 and was expected to grow just 1.3% in 2005.

The Lodge at Brainerd Lakes & Paul Bunyan Water Park project is also in a prime location, within a premier development on State Highway 371 in Baxter (also known as the Paul Bunyan Expressway). Baxter is a sister city to Brainerd, and is growing quickly. It is situated 130 miles northwest of Minneapolis/St. Paul and 60 miles north of St. Cloud, 140 miles west of Fargo, North Dakota, and 350 miles southeast of Winnipeg Manitoba, in Minnesota’s number one recreational destination. Statistics show that recreational areas with interstate highway access within 200 miles of a major metro area are excellent locations for hotel water park developments, as families are willing to drive 200 miles in the middle of January to spend a weekend at an indoor water park.

The development is currently traveled by more than 16,500 vehicles per day and is projected to reach 27,400 vehicles by 2020. Development surrounding the site is made up of complementary uses including an array of local and tourism-related amenities in retail, restaurants, service and recreational businesses. The Brainerd Lakes area is home to several hundred fishing and recreational lakes as well as numerous state and county parks, including the Paul Bunyan Trail, which is used for biking in the summer and snowmobiling in the winter. 

What economic impact will the development have on the Brainerd Lakes area?

The Lodge at Brainerd Lakes & Paul Bunyan Water Park anticipates approximately 120 employees, 25% of which are expected to be full-time workers. 

Who are the developers?

The Lodge at Brainerd Lakes & Paul Bunyan Water Park is a joint venture between a group of Twin Cities developers, including Joel Cairy and Doug Rohde. Both are managing partners of Lodge Hotels & Resorts. Rohde also owns  The Lodge at Crooked Lake Hotel & Conference Center, which anchors the Lodge Village Development in Siren, Wisconsin. Cairy and Rohde collaborate on all aspects of The Lodge at Brainerd Lakes & Paul Bunyan Water Park’s development, including design, construction, marketing and on-site management. While Rohde’s expertise is in multi-hotel management, Cairy’s forte is hotel management and buying, which he gained as Director of Hotel Administration and Corporate Worldwide Travel at Northwest Airlines. In this capacity, Cairy directed the purchasing of hotel contracts for airline crew hotels throughout the NWA system. Collectively, Rohde and Cairy have more than 35 years of experience in hotel sales and marketing. 

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Contact:

The Lodge at Brainerd Lakes & Paul Bunyan Water Park
www.lodgehotels.com

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Also See: Three New Hotel Developments in the Minneapolis Area Include Large Water Parks / January 2004
A $25 million Hotel/Condo Proposed for Downtown Duluth, Minnesota / Sheraton Branded Property Would Have 145 Hotel Rooms, 30 Upper Level Condos / February 2005


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