Lingering sadly on the shores of tony Walloon Lake was a tiny village, marked by burned-out buildings and abandoned businesses.
That was the 1980s. Today, the Village of Walloon Lake is booming, with one committed family sinking millions into its thoughtful, multi-stage redevelopment.
The Grand Rapids-based Borisch family has slowly revitalized the hamlet’s shoreline with a restaurant, marina/watersports pro shop, and public park.
Next up? A lakeside luxury hotel.
A DAY OR A WEEK
Over the past several years, the Borisches have carefully worked to expand the potential of the village, being cautious not to ruin its traditional Northern Michigan lakeside “feel.”
It’s a feel that has been marinating in the family since the 1960s, first as full-time residents in the village, then as summer residents on the lake’s West Arm.
So far, they’ve redeveloped the Walloon Lake Marina (to which they also added an outlet of Tommy’s waterskiing and wakeboarding pro shop) and opened the popular Barrel Back Restaurant.
The logical next step in drawing visitors to Walloon and creating jobs?
Enter Hotel Walloon. “As long-time summer residents of Walloon Lake, we were very aware of the need for a restaurant and hotel in the village,” said Matt Borisch, who is spearheading the project with his father Jonathan Borisch.
Matt Borisch said the family did not enter into the venture lightly.
“We envisioned Hotel Walloon after understanding the history of the lake and the hotels which were supported,” he said. “[We also heard] from a number of visitors that a place to stay for a day or a week would be a welcome addition.”
A LUXURY SPACE
With the assistance of Todd Seidell Architects, Kathryn Chaplow Design, Jeff Visser Design, Wolgast Construction, and a whole team of smaller local companies, the hotel is expected to open late this winter.
Ground was broken for the project this past May.
“Construction is going well,” Matt Borisch said. “Wolgast is taking the lead on the project, and will use as many local contractors as possible.”
More jobs will open up once the hotel is complete, he said.
“We are planning for 40 jobs once the hotel opens,” he said.
Evoking hotels of the early 20th century and regional favorites like the Grand Hotel on Mackinaw Island, Hotel Walloon will be Walloon Lake’s only waterside hotel.
It will be designed with “the finest of finishes,” Borisch said, and customer service will be a priority.
“It will be recognized as a luxury space,” he said, “but we do intend to have different room rates based on room size and season, making it more accessible. We expect Hotel Walloon to be a welcome place for guests in all seasons.”
Interior designer Kathryn Chaplow agrees.
“Our first priority is making every visitor feel welcome and comfortable, and the interiors play a large role in that,” she said.
A WELCOME RETREAT
Plans for the interior of Hotel Walloon include 32 rooms, including large guest suites with kitchens and multiple bed and bathrooms. Each will blend traditional, cottage, and modern decor. A large fireplace will anchor the lobby, and inspiration will be derived from local culture and the lake itself.
“We are using the history of the area and local elements throughout in the design,” Chaplow said. “The intent is to create the feeling of the beautiful old hotels of the lake resort era of the past, but with all the modern amenities and conveniences, such as wireless access, high definition televisions, and the latest in security and service technology. This is not a Victorian bed and breakfast.”
The rooms will be well suited for everyone from business travelers, special event guests, families, and those “simply looking for a getaway,” while the exterior will emulate the tradition of “old” Walloon Lake, the era brought to fame by author Ernest Hemingway in his early writings.
“It is going to be a beautiful retreat all year,” Chaplow said.
For his part, Borisch is hoping that Hotel Walloon fills a gap that he and his team feel currently exists in the local community.
“We want to provide a boutique-style, high-end property that offers the finest amenities and service available, while capturing the beauty of a small village lake community,” he said.