That is a part of what makes the Garmisch Resort, eight miles east of Cable, unusual in Wisconsin.
Consider some of the lodging options at this 65-acre Bayfield County property, on the south shore of Lake Namakagon: the five-bedroom Edelweiss Haus and Blarney Castle, three-bedroom Alpine Haus, Schwaben Haus and Chateau des Alpes.
The buildings live up to their names. Turrets, chalets and gingerbread motifs mix with balconies, wood-carved sculptures and wrap-around windows with expansive views of water and forest.
This property in Chequamegon National Forest has been a resort since 1904, when Ernest and Leola Lieberman opened for business with cabins where the boat landing and sandy beach are today. They were the first of six families to own the acreage and add their mark to it.
Inside the main, three-story lodge are a dining room and the Bierstube cocktail lounge with heavy log beams and handcrafted woodwork. They are next to a roomy lounge for checkers, reading and other rainy-day pursuits: The massive stone fireplace, cutouts of bears and fir trees, wood paneling and assortment of taxidermy are about as Northwoods as you can get.
“As with a great panorama, majestic in its beauty and almost terrifying in its immensity,” the Ashland Daily Press reported in 1932, “the onlooker is unable to grasp immediately the glory of the vistas which unfold as he wanders over the establishment, stands speechless at the great windows which open from the main room over the lake, glimpsed 40 feet below through a curtain of foliage …”
That grandeur remains today and was a dream-come-true for Jacob Loeb of Chicago, who began turning the property into a private family retreat in 1927. He was a retired insurance executive.
Just out the door is 3,200-acre Lake Namakagon, the national forest’s biggest freshwater lake, and it is better suited for fishermen and nature lovers than sun worshippers and powerboat racers.
Ducks, loons, heron and osprey make their home here. So do bass, pike, walleye and the fighting musky. The 43 miles of shoreline are not over-developed, although resort amenities acknowledge the priorities of modern travelers.
That means most cabins contain WiFi, and all have private bathrooms. Six of nine guest rooms in the main lodge contain fireplaces. Many resort accommodations are pet-friendly.
Rates at Garmisch Resort, 23040 Garmisch Road, Cable, begin at $105 per night for a lodge guest room. The property is open all year, rents watercraft, sells bait and fishing licenses.
The getaway was named Garmisch, USA in 1956, after a resort town in Bavaria. Buildings were in need of major TLC by 1988, after the resort was shuttered for years. Dennis and Kathy Howard of Middleton assumed ownership in 2004. garmischresort.com, 800-794-2204
The Cable area is best known as home to the American Birkebeiner cross-country ski race, but the area also maintains 300 miles of trails for mountain biking, 166 for ATVs and 125 for hiking.
Coming Aug. 30-31 is the Blue Moon Art Tour, when local artists (most on Blue Moon Road) open their studios to visitors. Their works go way beyond chainsaw carvings and wildlife paintings. bluemoonarttour.blogspot.com
The Chequamegon Fat Tire Festival, off-road bicycling events of up to 40 miles that are limited to 3,100 racers, is Sept. 12-14. cheqfattire.com, 715-798-3594
One of the best stops for a bite to eat is The Rivers Eatery, which makes breads and pizzas in a stone oven and sometimes hosts live music. Also for sale is organic fare, on the menu and in the Ideal Market, an attached business in a renovated warehouse big enough to also sell books, local art and grocery items. theidealmarket.com, 715-798-3123
For more about the area: cable4fun.com, 800-533-7454.
Two miles east of the Garmisch is Lakewoods Resort and Lodge, which has been in the same family for more than 100 years. Owner Phil Rasmussen says his Lake Namakagon shoreline getaway has involved five generations, so far.
The lodge burned in 1985 but was rebuilt, and the 18-hole Forest Ridges golf course was add in 1994.
For rent are rooms, condos and villas. Summer rates start at $72. For details: lakewoodsresort.com, 715-794-2561.
“Resorts of Wisconsin” by Adam Swenson and Neil Johnson ($34.95, NLJ Books) is a recently published, hardcover book that tells the stories of about 20 longtime and newer family-run resorts that are one of a kind.
The men also wrote “Resorts of Minnesota” ($34.95, NLJ Books) which contains about twice as many properties. Johnson, who lives in Hibbing, Minn., in the Elk River Star News estimated that only 900 of his home state’s 4,000 mom-and-pop resorts remain in business.