To tell the history of The Lodge at Blue Lakes, you have to begin with a Mercedes.
At a party 1989 in San Francisco, Maryann told a friend she was tired of paying so much every time she took her new Mercedes to the shop. Maryann had been living in the U.S. since 1985, when she emigrated from the Philippines, and had settled in the Bay Area in 1988. That evening her friend gave Maryann a tip–where to find the best Mercedes mechanic, who was from Switzerland, one who is honest and fairly priced. That was what brought her–and her car–in to Peter’s shop Autohaus Schmid in Burlingame.
They started talking when she dropped off the car, and he wanted to keep the conversation going. “Would you like to join me for lunch?” asked Peter.
“I’ve just eaten, but I’ll come along anyway,” Maryann agreed.
At Charley Browns, Peter ordered and urged Maryann to order something as well. “We can share what you have,” she said. She, a mass communications major during college, differentiated herself by being thrifty–and Peter asked her out again soon after.
While they were dating, Peter would bring her Swiss chocolates. Maryann would invite chaperones to accompany them on their outings. Maryann and Peter may have been 36 and 49, respectively, but they followed the path of a traditional courtship.
In 1990, Maryann and Peter married in a garden ceremony. Ever accommodating, they were late to leave for their own honeymoon because they were entertaining their out-of-town guests late into the night.
Later that year, they sold Autohaus Schmid to focus on remanufacturing Mercedes Benz transmissions. Their business case was bold, yet simple. “We saw a weakness–this failing transmission needed improvement–and we built a business around it.” Maryann and Peter assumed their respective roles as tactician and technician, and the two Americans continued their Dream together. “Anyone can do it,” says Peter modestly of the achievement.
In 1999, Maryann and Peter chose to sell the business and retire. On a trip to Lake County, and without previous plans to start a hotel, Maryann and Peter discovered The Lodge site. “We fell in love with the setting—it reminded us of Switzerland,” Maryann says. She immediately wrote an offer to purchase the property. “Our minds will never retire,” she says of the leap from retirement into the hospitality business.
The Lodge’s property had been used as a hotel-restaurant in the past, but needed a great deal of improvements to meet Maryann and Peter’s high standards. Luckily, as Peter points out, “We are not afraid to take a challenge.” Together they led renovations in 22 rooms over 22 months. The property had changed hands many times, with many proprietors trying but failing to make the hotel profitable. With their hard work and vision, Maryann and Peter’s incarnation as The Lodge at Blue Lakes has been successful and vibrant business for 11 years–and counting.
Throughout the years of running a business together, Maryann cites relationship building as essential trait for success. “It often happens–our customers become our friends,” she says.
The Schmids offer their beautiful lakeside resort and their tireless hospitality for your visit. Come see the beauty of Blue Lakes for yourself. As it is said: Come as a stranger, leave as a friend.
THIS IS PART ONE OF THREE-PART SERIES THAT WILL TELL THE STORY OF OUR OWNERS, PETER AND MARYANN SCHMID.