Northern Michigan Resorts: Home Sweet Homestead

Northern Michigan Resorts: A downstate couple falls for the year-round lifestyle at Leelanau's Lake Michigan resort.

Like most small Northern towns, Leelanau County's idyllic Glen Arbor has a population that rises and falls with the temperature reading. The colder it gets, the fewer the residents. This is especially true in the residential neighborhoods within The Homestead—a 350-acre resort property dotted with homes and condos that are packed throughout summer's golf and beach season. Once a flake falls, though, only about 20 full-time residents remain to mingle with the transient ski crowd who fill the property's time-shares and small hotels on weekends and holidays.

That suits Steve and Linda Young—two of those 20 year-rounders—just fine. On crisp, blustery evenings you might pass them on the ski trail or spot them walking home from a gnocchi dinner at Nonna's, the resort’s fine dining restaurant. The busy couple (Steve is a physician at Munson Medical Center in Traverse City, and Linda is a recently retired museum design professional) have been year-round residents of the resort for five years now, and love every season.

"We have everything here," says Linda, referring to The Homestead's full-service amenities, from practical conveniences like snow removal to luxuries that include a beauty salon and the onsite spa Spa Amira. Add to those niceties their proximity to the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and the miles-long Lake Michigan view out their windows. It's that combination of convenience and rugged beauty that gradually transformed the Youngs from weekend renters to permanent residents.

Prior to discovering The Homestead, the couple and their two children had vacationed down the coast in Saugatuck and South Haven. They’d loved the beach atmosphere, but felt they weren't far enough from their Kalamazoo home to truly unplug from daily life. After discovering the resort, the extra distance to Leelanau County gave them that ability, but still—it's a long drive. They stretched their brief visits longer each time, finally relocating altogether to Northern Michigan in 2006.

The Youngs’ freestanding cedar-sided condo is down a short boardwalk sheltered by native trees and shrubs tucked on the resort’s border with the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Paul Maurer General Contracting built the condo, imbuing it with the cottagey style for which the firm is known. The 2,300-square-foot home is situated to take full advantage of Lake Michigan views. With three levels (two stories plus a walkout), three bedrooms, and a kitchen and dining area that open to a sunken living room, the home is big enough to entertain their adult children and houseguests, but efficient enough so that it doesn’t get the better of their time.

Tile and maple flooring in high-traffic areas and a no-fuss decorating style also help to make the home ideal for the Youngs' active lifestyle. Linda keeps the decor neutral so it doesn't compete with the views, or with the carefully chosen art, mostly by Michigan artists, that exhibits her expertise as a curator.

From the comfort of their four walls, the Youngs delight in watching storms moving across the lake, vibrant sunsets melting into the water and magnificent freighters seeking shelter in Sleeping Bear Bay. But The Homestead bonus is that even outside the condo, the Youngs can call an entire resort home.

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