Hidden Gem Re-emerges as Elvyn Lea Lodge: 1950s Northern Michigan Inn Finds New Beginning

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Entrepreneurs Michael and Monica Farrier are renovating a 1950s inn in northern Michigan to create Elvyn Lea Lodge. As the new owners upgrade rooms and amenities, travelers are discovering this hidden gem as a retreat and venue for weddings and events.

“The property has been off the radar as a destination for many of the adult travelers we are now reaching,” says Monica Farrier. “They are surprised to discover that this special place has been here all along.”

A northern Michigan inn is getting a fresh start under the stewardship of new owners Michael and Monica Farrier, who purchased the former Village Inn (later known as the Boyne Valley Lodge) and 44 acre grounds in fall of 2013. They renamed it Elvyn Lea Lodge, a name that captures the enchanted feel of the property and reflects its new purpose as a northern Michigan retreat.

It all began nearly sixty years ago, when businessman Harland McKinnon imagined an inn crafted from pine, with a huge central fireplace to ease the chill of the Michigan winter. He pictured it at the base of the hills, set back among the trees along the stretch of road that winds along Walloon Lake between the resort towns of Walloon Village and Boyne City. When he heard that the Interstate was about to go through, he sold his Florida motel, moved his family north, and built his dream (with a house to match) and proudly named it the Village Inn (see historical photos at http://www.elvynlea.com/History.html.) He knew that groups of skiers would follow, needing lodging and services, and come they have since those early days of the 1950s and through all the years since.

In time the property changed hands several times, and along the way the name was changed from the Village Inn to the Boyne Valley Lodge. The ski industry of northern Michigan increased in size and sophistication, and lodging options for skiers grew. Previous owners adapted by hosting youth sports and band camps, church groups, and family reunions. An athletic field (now used as a private event lawn) was created, along with an extensive network of trails. With the lawn and trails plus lodging and food service on site, the property is now getting noticed as an exciting new venue for weddings and events.

As demographics of the area and interests of travelers evolve, the current owners see new opportunities all around them. They draw upon their varied backgrounds as they move forward with their plans. An inventor and engineer, Michael Farrier has found new applications for his design and problem solving skills in the process of renovating the building and caring for the grounds. Monica’s work in health and hospitality fields, along with her training in real estate, provides inspiration and valuable experience. The couple has lived in Michigan and California, and previously restored and sold their Spanish Mission-style home in San Jose before returning to live in Michigan permanently in 2009. They share broad interests in historic preservation, education, art, and healthy living, and envision building a community of like-minded visitors who will come here to enjoy the natural beauty of the property and area. The lodge caters mainly to groups, though there are opportunities for individuals and couples to visit.

Recognizing the need for improvements to meet modern standards, the new owners are upgrading rooms, services, and amenities, while retaining the historic charm of the lodge. In a time when the pace is accelerating elsewhere, life here remains slow and easy. Guests sit around the fire in rocking chairs, go for walks on the trails that wind through the 44 acre property, breathe in the fresh air, and spend quality time with loved ones away from the pressures of home. They enjoy fresh, locally sourced foods and services such as massages and yoga classes. As quality improves, new visitors are discovering Elvyn Lea. “The property has been off the radar as a destination for many of the adult travelers we are now reaching,” says Monica Farrier. “It’s a thrill to see guests come for the first time, and to see their surprise when they realize that this special place has been here all along. We think that Harland McKinnon would be happy and proud to see that his vision has endured, and that his inn continues to be a home up north for visitors who love northern Michigan.”

Monica Farrier
Elvyn Lea Lodge

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