Family lodge meets executive retreat at Minnesuing Acres

The hallways at Minnesuing Acres hold many memories of the family’s past.

The Curtis L. Carlson family is all about hospitality. 

As former owners of Radisson Hotels and Country Hospitality, and current owners of Carlson Travel, the family is well aware that the small details make all the difference.

That philosophy has flowed over to the family’s exclusive executive retreat, Minnesuing Acres. 

Once a private retreat established by Curt Carlson as a family getaway back in 1961, the property outside of Lake Nebagamon, Wis. is now an executive retreat open to the public for business conferences and special occasions. Perched on Lake Minnesuing, the property features 35 guest rooms, a bowling alley, trout pond, driving range, executive challenge course, waterfront area, chef prepared meals, wine tasting and themed dinners.

According to Carlson’s grandson, Geoffrey Gage, Carlson originally built the lodge as a surprise for Gage’s mom, grandmother and aunt.

“The family history on the lake goes all the way back to a time when my grandfather’s parents took him camping on the island in the middle of Lake Minnesuing,” he said. “My grandfather eventually bought one third of the island and built a small family cabin, once he was able to afford it. Two other families he knew each bought one third - one of the families being from Duluth, the second being my grandpa’s sister and her family. Eventually, two of my grandpa’s brothers bought property and built cabins, each on one of the points to the left and right of the island.”

Gage said the island cabin faced away from what is now Minnesuing Lodge, so his mom, grandmother, and aunt knew nothing about the construction of it while it was taking place.

“My grandpa said nothing about it until he took them on a boat ride one day when the lodge building was complete, to unveil it,” he said. “Needless to say, it was quite a surprise.”

Carlson’s vision of the lodge was a place his family could go to spend time together, as well as a place he could use for his company’s sales meetings (then Gold Bond Stamps, and later Carlson) and other corporate retreats. 

“It basically is used for the same reasons today,” Gage said. “It has been and continues to be an amazing family gathering place and unifier, as well as a retreat for corporate getaways, team-building and family and friend retreats. It is used for a wide variety of events as well, including weddings, family reunions, social gatherings and more.  It truly is a place that brings people together like no place else.”   

Gage said the team at Minnesuing consists of amazing people, who guests and family consistently rave about. 

“Exceptional service and, personalities aside, the team is also very creative,” he said. 

Inside the lodge, some of the uniquely themed, most popular meals and events include, “The Best of Minnesuing Barbeque,” Caribbean (including jerk chicken), Italian pasta buffet, picnic lunches, fajita bar/Mexican buffet, wine and beer tastings, and appetizers and a margarita bar served in the island retreat, guests being brought over via pontoon.

Outdoors, there are a number of unique team and family building/bonding activities as well, including a ropes course, a raft building and sailing activity and “The Amazing Race,” which includes events such as a tomahawk toss, log sawing, and a large catapult/slingshot. There is also a series of winter activities, called the “Winter Amazing Race” which includes turkey bowling (bowling frozen turkeys at pins on the tennis court), golf shooting (with a tennis ball, down a cleared path, leading to a hole in the snow) and a curling/shuffleboard event.

Gage said the lodge holds many fond memories of these activities for him and his family, noting his time spent there drew him very close to his grandfather and his grandmother (Arleen) and essentially kept all family members connected.

“My grandfather’s sister who had the cabin next to his cabin on the island was named Aileen. My grandfather’s brother, Warren passed away some time ago, but passed the cabin and property to my cousins on his side of the family. His brother Dean who also has passed, left the cabin to family on the other side of the point. Grandpa’s oldest brother Kenny was a great person who stayed at the lodge a lot, but didn’t have a cabin in the area.”

Many of the family’s fond memories are captured in the hallways of the lodge with framed photos of Christmas gatherings, fishing outings and even a visit from then president Richard Nixon.

While the halls of Minnesuing Acres tell a story of the past, today it is still making memories for the guests who visit.

Leadership development company, CRA, Inc. has held its retreat at Minnesuing for many years and according to the firms partner Alan Nelson the facility is their number one choice for holding a meaningful gathering.

“This is our most important client conference,” Nelson said. “It’s one that we have been holding for 14 consecutive years now, and we have it at Minnesuing Acres. We have the choice of holding it in Europe, Asia, Latin America or anywhere else. The fact of the matter is though, for what we want to accomplish, which is to have the best possible conversations, the best possible relationships and the best possible outcomes this is the best place. We have yet to find a place that rivals this lodge.”

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