The Lodge at Blue Lakes, situated on Upper Blue Lake, in northern California’s Lake County, is a beacon to owners Peter and Maryann Schmid’s sense of hospitality. For first-time visitors, the fresh, modern interior design may be a surprise. Nearby there are a variety of accommodations, from campgrounds, RV parks, and in-town hotels, but Maryann points out what makes The Lodge unique for the Blue Lakes region: “We’re the only modern resort with a convention center in the area.”
The Schmids rebuilt the business ground up to offer this unique package for visitors. For some time, Maryann questioned the best use for the adjoining great room, which had been used as a restaurant by previous owners. She and her group of friends and advisors determined its “best and highest use” was as a convention center, rather than as a restaurant. Today it hosts a variety of events, including weddings, family reunions, corporate retreats and community meetings – accommodating up to 200 people.
The unique offering—a full meeting center in a standalone location, right on the shores of popular Upper Blue Lake—is just part of the Schmids’ holistic approach to everything they do. Maryann has referred to their lifestyle as R + D, or “research and development”–akin to the new products-generating arm of many businesses. Peter and Maryann research tirelessly to match the services they provide to their customers’ unique interests and sophisticated tastes. As just one example, Maryann takes advantage of their wine country location, near to culinary capitals Napa and Sonoma, to source the best in food trends. It’s just one way the Schmids do R + D at the Lodge.
The Lodge itself wasn’t always so up to date and modern. Before the Schmids purchased the Lodge, there were a string of owners who operated the location with little long-term success. The Schmids took over and completely renovated 22 rooms in 22 months. They reopened a pool that had been out of service for 15 years. All this, in the effort to bring Lodge visitors the best welcome possible.
The Lodge value proposition is simple: offer lakefront access, generous resort amenities, a full convention center and excellent service. Since her early career in the import trade in 1980s California, Maryann has had an eye for the best–in quality fit and finish, and in the best materials available. That Peter and Maryann are constantly striving to improve shows in how they spend their free time. When they travel for pleasure, they scan the environment with a critical eye, whether in hotels, restaurants or at the open houses they enjoy visiting. What can we take away, how can we use what we like? For example, rather than making each room at the Lodge identical, Peter and Maryann sought out unique finishes to add character.
Fortunately, this team has the hard-won skills to help reach its potential. The child of a bicycle business family, Peter grew up building and fixing things. He took to working in automotive repair during school, and shaped a successful series of automotive businesses working on Mercedes vehicles and transmissions, including locations in Northern California. When the couple decided to throw themselves into rebuilding the Lodge, Peter’s automotive technical proficiency served him well in doing many of the repairs and improvements himself.
All this hard work and passion overshadows that this is Peter and Maryann’s 3rd Act. The couple, who could easily be visiting as retirees rather than running the place, don’t seem tempted by a slower pace of life. “When I wake up in the morning, I eat, drink and breathe the Lodge,” says Maryann. And even though she doesn’t say so herself, it does show.