In 2011, we received a call from Gaylord, MI. Scott and Janice Lampert had purchased property in their hometown and wanted to create a landmark spot on the site.
“We have been so blessed by the land, we wanted to give back to the land” , reported Lampert. “This site is so amazing in its intimate northern Michigan way that we wanted to make it available to today’s recreational and educational user.”
Very influenced by retreat centers, spas and boutique resorts they have visited, the goal was to create a resort that would compete on the highest level for aesthetics and experience. “There is definitely a spiritual side to this place,” Janice Lampert explained. “Partly because of its history and the hundreds of visitors who came to this spot since the 1950’s, but by far, it is the soul of the land and nature that lives here that gives it it’s spirit”.
r.o.i. Design was engaged by the Lamperts to create a master plan for the property and assist them in the remodeling of the existing buildings on the property. The master plan developed “zones” based on the land contours, road access and experience. r.o.i. also created a design criteria that referenced Charles and Rae Eames, the designers and cultural icons of America’s modern movement. That criteria included the simple use of materials and in some cases, in new ways. But the land also has elements that harken-back to Thoreau’s Walden Pond and the naturalists of that period, which was also honored in the criteria.
The goal was also to create a gentle experience, which means limited site merchandising and signage on the property. While Janice and Scott wanted everyone to make their own discoveries, there had to be a place to start. It became clear that a welcome center would be needed to greet guests. All the existing buildings were on the lake and out of view from the entry.
Because all the existing buildings were built in the 50’s and 60’s, it was important for r.o.i. Design that the Welcome Center continue with the eclectic character of mid-century Northern, Michigan architecture. “We needed to make a simple building look natural, gestural and friendly” says Mary Witte, President of r.o.i Design. “We also honored the design criteria and imagined how the Eames and 19th century transcendentalists would solve this design assignment.”
The result was a simple barn with an eyebrow canopy supported by angled columns. The appearance is of being “lifted up”. The Welcome Center houses registration, sales offices, as well as meet and greet space in the front part of the building. The back of the building is a residence for a year around director of operations.
The existing buildings on the property, Lakeview (Hotel), Great Hall and Sand Bar (Pool House, Banquet Hall and Bar), and Whispering Pines (Hotel) all have their own look and challenges. All of them have a role in the operation of the now Sojourn Lakeside Resort and all of them needed some TLC.
Notable improvements include complete interior remodeling for all spaces.
For the hotel spaces that meant new bathrooms, new finishes, and new furnishings.
For the Great Hall and Sand Bar it meant upgraded restrooms , bar facilities and lighting. The banquet hall had a lot of character that a good cleaning revealed but new dim-able and zoned lighting was crucial to make the space useful for a variety of events.
For more information about Sojourn, please visit their website and remember them when you are planning your family reunion, a wedding, a retreat or educational conference. sojournlakesideresort.com
r.o.i. Design has more than 20 years experience in creating “other places”. Our work in hospitality, resort planning and design made us the ideal partner for the Lampert’s and Sojourn Lakeside Resort. roidesign.com