Shanty Creek carves a masterpiece in the wilderness

BELLAIRE – After five years of planning and construction, the new $50 million Cedar River Village within Antrim County’s 4,500-acre Shanty Creek resort complex is open for business.

The village is many things: it’s the Cedar River Lodge, an all-suite hotel which includes a high-tech conference center (pictured above); it’s a golf resort, a ski resort, condos, and a community of homes. All of this on previously undeveloped land behind the Schuss Mountain ski area.

Terry Schieber, president and CEO of Shanty Creek, is a man who, rightfully, feels a lot of pride and satisfaction with himself and his staff in having brought the facility all the way through planning and construction.

Recreation at the Cedar River Village centers around golf and skiing, with tennis to follow. Golfers play on the new Tom Weiskopf-designed Cedar River course. Work began on the course in June 1997 and it’s been open since last June, with golf pro Jack Seltver working out of a temporary pro shop. The permanent pro shop is in the basement of the Cedar River Lodge and the first tee is a short distance away.

The course, which takes advantage of natural contours of the hills and valleys of the area, has already received nationwide acclaim. In fact, it’s a candidate for designation as one of the top new courses in the U.S. by Golf Magazine and Golf Digest. The Oakland Press and WWJ radio in Detroit rate it number three in the state.

Winter guests at the lodge can ski out the lower level, through a short tunnel, directly to the redesigned Schuss Mountain ski area. When returning, they ski over a bridge and back to the lower level.

The lodge has fine dining at Whispers Restaurant and casual dining at Weiskopf’s Grill. Whispers is managed by Bill Peterson, formerly of Spencer Creek in Alden. The dining room seats 64 and features a temperature- and humidity-controlled wine storage room, the interior of which can be viewed through a large window. Decor at the lodge is “a walk through northern Michigan,” utilizing wood, water and stone. The entrance marquee is supported by full logs, and the lobby utilizes barn-type wood with a small waterfall to one side.

But for all its woodsiness, the lodge is nevertheless a “state-of-the-art” high-tech conference facility. There are five conference rooms with capacities ranging from 16 to 160, depending on use and configuration.

Some have “breakout” rooms strategically placed near them. Available equipment includes ceiling-mounted LCD projection, rear screen LCD projection, video conferencing, portable and built-in audio visual equipment, data and phone lines with Internet access, floor boxes to accommodate lap top computers that can include an in-room network, internet access, built-in stereo playback audio system, and more.

The 24-person boardroom is a special conference feature of the lodge, with its richly finished table and full computer capability at each chair. Even Bill Gates would be comfortable working here.

The 85 rooms in the Lodge consist of 75 one-bedroom suites and 10 two-bedroom suites. Each has a natural gas fireplace. Following through on the high-tech theme, all rooms are equipped to handle computer modem hookups. Just a short walk from the lodge are four condo developments: The Slopeside, The Golf Side, The Tee Side, and the Tennis Side, in various stages of completion, including some that are already sold. Altogether they contain 88 rooms, the majority of which are expected to be on a rental plan.

The village plan also includes 150 homesites on the golf course, with another 150 off the course in a development of winding access roads and all-underground utilities, including natural gas. The entrance road to the Lodge curves through the housing development where 20 homes are currently in various stages of completion.

Planning for Cedar River Village began in 1995. In April of 1997 the contractors began moving earth to prepare for the building foundations and to upgrade the Schuss Mountain ski area while providing for the eventual ski-in, ski-out capability at the lodge. Huge earth movers actually increased the height of Schuss Mountain by 40 feet and 13 new runs were added.

The old chair lifts were ripped out and replaced with five new quad chairs. At the start of the 97-98 ski season, modifications were complete and Schuss Mountain skiers found a much improved area with new, longer runs, increased snow-making capability, and greater chair capacity.

Work could then proceed on the lodge, condos, golf course, and housing development. For two years the site was a beehive of activity with workers and trucks coming and going at a steady pace.

The entire Shanty Creek complex has a long history in the area and is Antrim County’s largest employer, with an annual payroll of $11 million. The original Shanty Creek resort was opened in 1963 and has had several major enhancements over the years.

Today it includes a hotel, conference center, condos, homes, skiing, and two golf courses: the Summit and the Legend. Schuss Mountain was opened in 1967 and now has the improved ski area, golf, condos, and homes.

Schuss and Shanty were separate organizations until 1985 when they joined. Now, with the addition of Cedar River Village, the third major resort had been added.

To get to there, take M-88, either west from Mancelona or south from Bellaire. Watch for the signs and take the first entrance road you see. Then just follow the color coded “Cedar River Village” signs. BIZNEWS