Northern Michigan Resorts:  A Chicago family makes Shanty Creek their home away from home.

A serendipitous bid at a school auction almost 20 years ago changed Liz and Mike Striedl’s life. “We’re from north of Chicago,  and most people from around here go to Wisconsin or Southern Michigan to vacation, and that’s what we had done growing up,” says Liz. “When the kids were younger we bid on a week at Shanty Creek and discovered a whole other world in Northern Michigan.”

After that first visit, they fell in love with the 4,500-acre resort, the surrounding area near Bellaire and the warm and welcoming staff, whom Liz calls “some of our favorite people anywhere.” Fast-forward almost two decades, and the Striedls now own three places at the resort, and they make the six-hour drive as often as they can.

Possibly their favorite unit is the Slopeside condo in the Cedar River Village. The unit has three bedrooms, three baths and approximately 1,800 square feet.

Liz says the proximity to the slopes was one of the main reasons the family purchased the unit when their children were younger. “One of the great things about the resort is that the kids can be very independent yet still under the watchful eye of the Shanty family,” she says. That allows a certain amount of independence for parents as well. These days their girls are 17 and 22, but they still look forward to trips north. “We worried that they wouldn’t want to come when they were older and busier, but that just hasn’t been the case,” says Liz. “If anything, they want to come more often, and now they want to bring friends.”

Shanty Creek has become a gathering place for the Striedls’ friends and family, especially during holiday week when their guests fill all three condos—enjoying communal meals served at Slopeside. “There’s always a big pot of chili on the stove, and people come and go as they please,” Liz says.

Those days are filled with outdoor activities. “The kids are on the slopes from the time the lifts open until they close at night,” Liz says. “There’s also a wonderful fire pit just up the hill from the condo where people gather and socialize, which is great fun.” And this winter Liz is looking forward to trying the resort’s cross-country trails.

The condo looks out over the ski slopes and the new snowboarding hill. “It’s really a beautiful sport to watch,” says Liz. The Striedls are looking forward to checking out the resort’s latest updates this winter, which include a major renovation and expansion to its Schuss Mountain terrain parks, new runs along the popular Red Lift and new snowmobile rentals.

Liz loves the area in winter, but she says it’s equally wonderful in summer, when she enjoys spending time on the nearby Cedar River or scouting local antiques stores. “The area is just so beautiful,” she says. “It’s like no place else. We crave it. We get in the car and start the drive and leave our worries behind.”

Photo(s) by Todd Zawistowski