More about Jolli Lodge
It was a wise man who said, “The three most critical features of real estate are location, location, location.”
The Jolli Lodge property is three miles south of Leland, as picturesque a little village as you can find, set in a land of cherry orchards, vineyards, dunes and long water views. The village sits on a sliver of land between two lakes, Michigan and Leelanau, and is bisected by the Leland River. This is the western shoreline of Leelanau County, a county that is a peninsula surrounded by Lake Michigan. It’s a small, friendly, village that will charm you with unusual shops and fine restaurants. Leland is a holdover from an earlier time. It has lasted so long with little change because it’s so wonderfully good.
Leland’s “Fishtown”, a National Register of Historic Places district, features rustic shanties, smokehouses, racks of drying nets and plank docks reminiscent of life and commercial fishing in the early 1900’s. It’s become a place of galleries and unique shops. Charter fishing boats and the ferry to the Manitou Islands dock here. This is the place to launch and moor your powerboat or sailboat on Lake Michigan for day trips to the islands or the Sleeping Bear Dunes.
You don’t need to take my word for it that Leelanau County is a special place. Good Morning America called part of the Seeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, a few miles to the south, “the most beautiful place in America.” National Geographic recently put one of the beaches there on the list of the “the 21 top beaches on earth.” Hmmm. As one who was blessed to be born here and lived in the county for 50 years, and who has canoed the entire shoreline (you’d do it in a kayak today), I can tell you there are places here they didn’t see that rank right up there.
Read Oscar winning screenwriter Kurt Luedtke’s classic, tongue in cheek “Don’t come to Leelanau — you wouldn’t like it here.” (pdf will open in new window)
“Jolli Lodge is Northern Michigan stripped to its elements: wind, water, sand, simple cottages tucked in the woods and whole days to do exactly what you please. In other words, it’s the real thing.
“In 1994 Midwest Living readers named it one of their top ten favorite resorts. And in 1995 Outside highlighted it in a piece on Great Lakes lodging. ‘They had the Jolli Lodge alongside the Grand Hotel,’ Greg (Jolliffe) says, amazed.
“Add to that notoriety the fact that Jim Harrison wrote Legends of the Fall (the novella-turned-movie starring Brad Pitt) and Revenge (starring Kevin Costner) at the resort in the winter and spring of 1977, and Jolli Lodge has the makings of a legend itself.”
A New Yorker piece on Jim Harrison added this amazing bit of history: “The stories about Jim’s (Harrison’s) adventures writing for film began when Jack Nicholson loaned him thirty thousand dollars to live on for the time it would take to write three novellas that might make good movies. They could also be published together as a book, which was more important to Jim. He had a draft of “Legends of the Fall” in ten days and was done with the second, “Revenge,” in another two weeks.”
Today Jolli Lodge has 11 structures including the Lodge, which operates as a B&B, and the family cabins. Click for information including structures and tax information. Under township zoning these can be improved or removed, and you might well choose to do either. It’s an awesome setting: Giant oaks and birches shade the timeless white frame buildings trimmed in green. Stone sea walls frame sugar sand beaches. Flower beds add a wash of color, butterflies and hummingbirds. Out beyond the shipping channel islands frame the horizon. North Manitou Shoal lighthouse, built in 1896, still standing tall and strong against the storms, warns freighters with its Fresnel light as they navigate the Manitou Passage.
Leelanau County is a place where you ski cross country without lights under a full moon to a campfire with friends. It’s water skiing behind a vintage Chris Craft or Century mahogany boat on Lake Leelanau or Glen Lake, or catching King salmon on a charter in Lake Michigan. It’s walking the beaches for Petoskey stones or blue “Lelandite” gems, or hiking the dunes, or painting, writing, making something artistic and great — or just enjoying the abundant work of those who do.
It’s outdoor events at the Interlochen National Music Camp, or a rainy day at the Dennos Museum, or an event at the City Opera House in the National Writer’s Series, or old time movies at the Bay Theater in Suttons Bay or the State in Traverse City. It’s tennis on the Jolli Lodge court, a day on the sailboat, or beach fires and brats, with fire balloons at dusk. It’s farm fresh eggs and sweet corn picked up at your favorite farm, or whitefish filets from Carlson’s fishery — fish that slept in the lake last night. It’s starting the day with a “Chubby Mary” at The Cove above the dam, or dinner at the Riverside Inn, or an early breakfast at the Bluebird. Nationally-recognized American chef Mario Batali has a home just up the road in Northport and says it’s for all of those reasons and more. We’re just scratching the surface here!
History is something we cherish and preserve, but the highest and best use of land often changes with time. Change can be wonderful. A new vision of this property may be to improve the resort buildings and continue the Jolli Lodge traditions for another 60 years. Or it could be to make this land your personal estate, or a family compound. The land could be used in creative new ways that someone imagines and implements under township PUD or Condo regulations.
Sixty years ago, when the Jolli Lodge began welcoming guests, if you ventured inland a short distance from the shore you’d see weathered hemlock or pine board barns and small farms where farmers had worked the land for 100 years. Knock on the door and you’d get the farmer in Oshkosh overalls, and his first language might be Swedish, or Polish. Knock on the same door fifteen years later and you’d get a different guy in Oshkosh overalls, and he’d be a Merrill Lynch broker from New York, or a corporate guy from Austin.
Change as it does, this place just keeps getting better. There’s an abundance now of truly great restaurants, art galleries, cherry orchards, and vineyards with fine local wines. And there are orchards that feature a hundred varieties of old time apples that may not ship so well or be perfectly shaped, but have mouth watering flavor. And happily some things never change — views over the bay, the northern lights, and the sparkle of the moon on the lakes. This is just a quick overview. For further reading just search “Leelanau County” on Google. And see the slide show on this website, for sure. The photos were taken by the Innkeeper, Greg Jolliffe. Read his reflections on the future of the property.
This place, close to Leland, in Leelanau County, near Traverse City, is uniquely wonderful in part because it is surrounded by so much to do. Sandy beaches really do stretch in each direction, as far as the eye can see. Out front the islands and points in the Manitou Passage are set in rich blues of turquoise, aquamarine and cobalt. The water reflects the blue of the sky, or the fire of a sunset.
So the question is, “Who needs this property?”
• Perhaps the most obvious answer is “An individual who wants an estate size parcel this fine, this private, so close to Leland.”
• But it could also be a family spread across the country or the world that is looking for a way to vacation together as a family in a family compound, with sites for individual homes that can be passed down through the generations.
• Or, a new owner could improve the buildings, some of which date to 1924, for the next period of time and build on the resort tradition. The Jolli Lodge has a strong reputation built over a 62 year history. This could be a way to write off the cost of buying the land utilizing depreciation.
• It’s also possible that the time has come for a new, more intense use of the property under the Planned Unit Development section of local zoning, which might include condos.
What’s clear is that this is the last land of it’s kind, and your last opportunity to acquire a parcel so large, so beautifully located, with such good access to the beach.
Today the wind is in the west, passing over the deep, cold waters of Lake Michigan. It naturally air conditions the air in summer, and modifies the cold in winter. Pleasant days and evenings beside the lake with a good local wine after a day hiking dunes and beaches will beguile you to come again… and stay.
And that’s something to consider.