Winter stay |  Features |  Northern Express

Winter stay | Features | Northern Express

Subdued weekend stays
By Lynda Wheatley | January 15, 2022

The coziness of our hearts longs to do hibernation style, with seemingly endless early nights spent curled up – books, candles, sofa – at home. But in a region where winter (if not your winter body) is a wonderland, there comes a moment when even the most couch potato-ey among us feels the urge to explore, seize the snow-covered day, to get back in the office Monday morning proclaimed proudly: Yes, there is a world beyond the sofa-to-cabin commute, and I know it because I went there and I leaned back in it.

Listen, winter disgusters: You do not have to be the brother to pull a fakie 180 off the rail to enjoy this season. You can just as easily (OK, far easier) embrace its long and frosty march towards March by venturing out into a new horizon that is visible from another but equally comfortable sofa.

Here we share four of our favorite winter vacations that are all worth getting to, whether it’s all you can do, stay inside and do nothing, or stay close and do something.

Stafford’s Crooked River Lodge and Suites
We love this place in the summer with its massive, ready-to-drive lawn, nightly campfires and free kayaks. But walk into the vaulted timber and stone lobby in the winter and you will not long for the summer sunshine for a second.

Upstairs, indoor explorers will find a (sorta) secret loft equipped with a pool table, board games and card tables, cozy sofas and shelves with books. Back downstairs, guests can dive into the heated indoor pool or hot tub, soak up the lobby’s massive fireplace – or take a stroll right outside the back door for a good old – fashioned stargazing next to the fire.

You probably will not leave this half-timbered nest for a moment, but if you must, there are plenty of snowshoes (just ask at the front desk) and the lodge is right next to a snowmobile rental shop and trails, plus is just minutes from downtown Petoskey and Harbor Springs’ shops, eateries and galleries abound.

Until January 27, Crooked River Lodge is offering a Winter Getaway package for four, for two nights, for $ 229 +. It includes breakfast each morning, $ 40 in Dining Dollars (redeemable at any Stafford’s eatery) and a welcome goodie bag. Sunday through Thursday, Feb. 13 through March 3, couples can enjoy a single night, breakfast, champagne and chocolates plus $ 30 in Stafford’s Dining Dollars for $ 152 +. www.crookedriverlodge.com.

Hotel Walloon
It can be said that the elegant, yet cozy hotel Walloon, serves as an anchor not only for the small village of Wallonia, but also for so much of what we love about the winter Up North.

Just a quick arm-in-arm stroll brings you to a wealth of village shops, an always free ice rink on the shores of Lake Walloon, and of course the much-loved Barrel Back Restaurant.

From here you are also a quick drive to Boyne Mountain, The Highlands, Nubs Nob and the nearby towns of Boyne City, Petoskey, Harbor Springs and Charlevoix and their surrounding wineries. But then again, why go anywhere? Hotel Walloon boasts a large, warm and glass-framed (read: windbreaking) outdoor bath and one of the most magical public living rooms we’ve ever spent three hours in. (Lobby next door, with a massive fireplace, sumptuous furniture , a well-kept bar and a staff that welcomes guests who enjoy cocktails, post the hot tub in their free bathrobes. Yes, tried and verified.) www.hotelwalloon .com

Highlands Harbor Springs
Consider the former Boyne Highlands – now simply named The Highlands – the beautiful neighbor girl who grew up hovering on high-fashion runways. This winter, the healthy Harbor Springs resort you have long known as the largest ski area in The Mitten (435 acres that can be skied!) And the highest vertical terrain (with mile-long trails!) Gave northern Michigan a sexy new unveiling: 87 The rooms of its iconic Main Lodge have been expanded and updated in a refined, ultra-luxury, yet comfortable and cozy style (think: plush bedding, wooden wardrobes, marble bathrooms, euro-style toilets, smart refrigerators, Nespresso machines… ).

It also installed super-fast lift ticket scanning at each lift, five new mega snow cannons and 135 sets of new Head City ski and boot packages for rent; Zipline Adventures, fat-tire snow biking and Sno Go Bikes are also available.

But for people looking for a less adrenaline-filled weekend respite, be ready to swoon: This month, the Highlands brought back its Aonach Mor Moonlight Dinners, where you and yours take a sleigh ride up to the resort’s North Peak and enjoy a three – family-style dinner (with live acoustic tunes and plenty of candles) inside an intimate cottage retreat. The price of $ 135 per. person includes sleigh rides up and down the mountain, three-course meal, non-alcoholic beverages, taxes and 20 percent gratuity. There are only seven dates left: January 22 or 29 or February 5, 12, 19, 20, 26. www.highlandsharborsprings.com

Hotel Frankfort
The painted lady in the center of Frankfurt, the Victorian 17-room Hotel Frankfort gives you all the intimate B&B escape sensations, while you sit proudly in the heart of one of the coolest small coastal towns in the Nordics.

Relax an afternoon of dreaming and planning inside the Betsie Bay Furnitures many chic rooms. Enjoy and enjoy some amazing craft breweries inside the Stormcloud Brewing Company’s pub and taproom (or an outdoor “Thunder Dome” igloo). If it’s a Saturday this month or in February, try to get a spot in StormCloud’s group curling lessons. Sunday? Check in at noon for an ice age; it’s only $ 10 per. person.

Walk to the rest of the Main Street shops, or head west to see Frankfort Beach’s famous sunset or – if the waves are right – go earlier to catch the bravest (and probably coldest) bunch of freshwater surfers on this side of the Mississippi.

At the end of the day, before snuggling into your uniquely decorated room (several with jacuzzi baths), you can head into Hotel Frankfort’s unique in-house restaurant for delicacies such as Drunken Mussels, Boursin Chicken Breast, Lobster Bisque and one of Our favorites – Red Velvet Cheesecake. Nightly rates (for non-jacuzzi rooms) start as low as $ 78. Bonus for pistes: Crystal Mountain Resort & Spa’s ski slopes and countless other winter adventures and activities are open and only 20 minutes away. www.thehotelfrankfort.com

* Photo above by Donnie Rose, Unsplash

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