With the pandemic slowing down current activity at the Brainerd, Minn. property, which is marking its 80th anniversary this year, the resort has pursued construction and improvements in several areas to accelerate a plan launched in late 2015 for remodeling, replacing and adding new amenities and lodging. “It’s a process, but one we are approaching with gusto,” says General Manager Eric Peterson.
This coming winter will mark the halfway point of a $20 million expansion and improvement project at Cragun’s Resort in Brainerd, Minn. In late 2015, the property embarked on an aggressive plan to remodel, replace and add new amenities and lodging to ensure the resort’s continued success. When the pandemic started to slow things down in March, General Manager Eric Peterson took the opportunity to ramp up construction in several areas of the resort, and that has enabled Cragun’s to keep people employed and make significant progress in the improvement plan, he reports.
Specific aspects of the improvements that have been completed or are underway at the property include:
- Legacy Golf Courses – a new fleet of environmentally friendly electric golf carts equipped with GPS was added. All bridges on the courses were repaired or replaced, and The Legacy clubhouse was updated with paint and flooring. Cragun’s has also been awarded a Mackenzie Tour event, as the PGA Tour Canada’s first venture into the U.S. Recognized as the CRMC Championship, the tournament will take place August 23-29, 2021 at Cragun’s Legacy Courses.
- Lodging – Cragun’s added six new Bayview Villa lodges, each with seven bedrooms and six bathrooms. The new buildings, which overlook Cragun’s south beach, replaced three of the resort’s original cabins. These new larger units are popular with families, golf groups and small corporate groups.
With the success of the Bayview Villas, Cragun’s also started work on the Hillside Cabins, either remodeling or completely rebuilding six of the 12 cabins, each of which features 3 to 6 bedrooms. The 21 Shoreline Suites were completely updated with new bathrooms, carpet, kitchens, hard goods, bed configuration, bedding and furniture. Every Lakeside Lodge Room had the wood-burning fireplace converted to gas or electric.
Forty-eight lodge rooms have been updated as well, with new lighting, carpet, bathroom tile and fixtures, countertops and furniture. Six larger homes, with six to ten bedrooms, that are located near the Legacy Golf Courses have also been added. The homes include separate game rooms with large screen TVs, game tables, fire pits and a host of bed options to accommodate large golf groups.
- Public Areas – The lobby and lobby gift shop were updated to include improved lighting, an expanded gift selection, plus the addition of an interactive television with information on the resort. The lake-level marina received new floors, walls, displays, a new bait tank and two new bathrooms. A new signage program was started to help guests find their way around the resort.
- Meeting Rooms – Several meeting rooms received new carpeting, window treatments, doors, trim and furniture. The Lakeshore Meeting Room, Cragun’s largest at 7280 sq. ft., can now be divided into four separate breakout rooms, each featuring views of Gull Lake. New carpeting, window treatments, wall finishes, doors, trim and a new fireplace were added.
- Amenities – New summer marina rental equipment has been added, including seven new pontoons, four speedboats, jet skis, stand-up paddleboards, row boats, canoes, bicycles and twelve new Polaris snowmobiles. The Lodge Room’s wood-burning fireplaces have been converted to electric. The Hungry Gull Food Cart was added for summer beach business, and Cragun’s Cabana Café was built at the indoor pool.
- Gull Lake Cruises – Cragun’s purchased the Destiny Cruises luxury yacht “North Star,” renaming the business Gull Lake Cruises. The yacht, now docked at the resort, offers both public and private cruises from May through October.
“Over the years, Cragun’s guests have told us how much they appreciate our family-friendly atmosphere and the true “up north” experience they receive at the resort,” says Peterson. “We put a plan together that would update Cragun’s public areas, provide more new, larger and improved cabins and upgrade the facilities in our lodge rooms, while maintaining the feel our guests love.
“All of the improvements are designed to fit well with the features that Cragun’s guests enjoy, such as our mile of sandy beaches, championship golf courses, full-service marina, snowmobiling, ice skating and dining options,” Peterson adds. “It’s a process, but one we are approaching with gusto. Cragun’s celebrated our 80th year in business in 2020 and we look forward to continuing our legacy of great customer experiences.”