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Grand View Lodge gives preview of major expansion projects

Grand View Lodge general manager gives a tour of the future hotel building and facilities being constructed at the resort.1 / 3
General Manager Mark Ronnei shows the chapel, a versatile addition to the Grand View Lodge Offerings.2 / 3
Grand View General Manager Mark Ronnei in front of a construction zone that will eventually hold a pool and fitness area.3 / 3

Grand View Lodge in Nisswa hosted a tour of its nearly $50 million expansion project Wednesday, Sept. 19.

Expansion includes the addition of a 60-room hotel complex, 41 cottages, fitness facilities and a chapel. Expansion also required changes to existing facilities. Employee housing near the main lodge has been moved to another end of the resort. Part of a golf course was removed to make room for the hotel, and a tennis court in need of resurfacing will be removed and relocated to create lawn space next to the chapel for wedding events.

Many of the updates were made to meet demands for lodging and recreation. Grand View Lodge, for example, has approximately 12 single hotel-style rooms currently, but hotel rooms are in high demand for conferences, weddings and other events.

"We are going to appeal to markets we never appealed to before. Particularly in today's environment, conference groups want one key, one person," said resort General Manager Mark Ronnei. "They don't want to talk about a three-bedroom apartment. They want a hotel room they can identify with. The other thing is there is nothing easier to sell online than a hotel room."

All the rooms in the facility will overlook a manicured golf course and landscaping. The building itself will house fitness amenities to appease the growing demand for fitness facilities among travelers, including an indoor pool with lap lanes; 24-person year-round outdoor hot tub; a yoga studio; and a spin classroom with scheduled classes or automated training videos.

This comes with plans for outdoor options as well, including tennis and pickleball courts, a field for pickup soccer and football, a climbing wall, sand volleyball court/winter hockey rink, Water Wars, and what Ronnei thinks may be the first cornhole stadium in Minnesota. Changes are also being made to the executive nine-hole golf course that once overlapped the hotel property.

"We will redo that to make it into some competitive fun," said resort Director of Marketing Frank Soukup. "It wasn't the best golf course when you look at our champion golf course, but you would see a lot of family golfers and older golfers who didn't want to be pushed along."

Additional housing will also be available at the newly constructed cottages. Each is divided into sections that can either be opened to accommodate a larger group, or locked to serve as separate hotel style spaces.

Already complete is the 70-seat wedding chapel, designed to look like it was moved to the location from somewhere else. The hotel itself is already booking rooms for July 1, 2019, though Grand View Lodge hopes to have the rooms open even earlier.

Between the hotel and cottages, Grand View Lodge's capacity will grow from approximately 1,000 people to 1,500. The staff needs will grow as well by approximately 60-100 new employees in housekeeping, desk workers and maintenance workers. The current staff is approximately 270 year-long employees and 650 employees maximum.

Much of the expansion is ahead of schedule. At one time Grand View Lodge expected to perform different sections of the expansion in phases spread out over five years; however, Soukup said they decided to get the chaos of construction over all at once. The cottage projects alone are four years ahead of schedule.