Su Casa is My Vacation Getaway
Once known for its Mom and Pop resorts and American Plan lodging, Wisconsin has seen an increase in fully equipped private home rentals as a vacation alternative
Madeline Island's Marshcroft Lodge
Harry Demorest of Washburn owns and rents two adjacent properties on Madeline Island, a twenty-minute ferry commute from Bayfield. “We have a group of teachers that comes every year and a man from North Dakota rewarded volunteers who helped him sandbag his home during the spring floods,” says Demorest. The two-bedroom Coffee Mill Cottage is suitable for four vacationers while the four-bedroom Marshcroft Lodge can accommodate a party of twelve. Rates are $1,000 and $1,600 a week for two and $10/night for each additional guest. Demorest’s properties share a huge dock and sand beach on Lake Superior. Each residence has a full kitchen, dining area, grill and “million-dollar views of the world’s greatest body of fresh water.”
Bookings are strong for Maple Wood Lodge, a “post and beam” log cabin retreat that easily accommodates six in the rolling hills of southwest Wisconsin. It’s nestled on twenty-six secluded acres with two miles of private hiking trails and five acres of natural prairie. Owners John Fetters and T.A. Coleman pride themselves on anticipating renters’ needs. Coffee beans and grinder are waiting when guests arrive and the “cook-ready” kitchen has a microwave and a full rack of spices, teas, hot chocolate and popcorn. The lodge features luxurious six-hundred-count sheets, terrycloth robes and gallery-quality art by area artists for $215/night for two, with extra guests at $20 per person per night.
“It feels like you’re miles from anything, but it’s easy to get to places like American Players Theatre, Taliesin, Mineral Point and Spring Green,” says Coleman. “We’re popular for girlfriend getaways, couples and small family gatherings. Honeymooners love the privacy of having the whole place to themselves.”
“Renting a private residence is like owning your own vacation home, but without the year-long worries,” says Erv Teichmiller, whose Arbor Vitae-based Community Rentals specializes in Northwoods properties. Economic and cultural changes have boosted his business in the past decade. “Traditional Wisconsin lake resorts are disappearing as owners age, their kids move away and sell the property as condos or individual parcels,” he says. “The number of traditional units is declining, but vacationers still want that romantic lakeside getaway. We provide private residences with lots of amenities that feel like your own home, but a week at a time.”
Teichmiller says all properties are licensed, inspected and approved annually by state and local authorities. “I like it,” he says, “because it assures our renters that the properties are safe and up to code—approved for living.”
Rentals start at $850/week for a two-bedroom cottage and top out at $3,200/week for a five-bedroom estate with pontoon boat.
Travel writer and consultant Gary Knowles is author of The Great Wisconsin Touring Book—30 Spectacular Auto Tours.