This summer, make Otsego Resort your home base for endless outdoor adventures and uniquely northern events. Spend a day canoeing the nearby Sturgeon River—also known for its spectacular trout and salmon fishing—or hit the links at the Gaylord resort’s two PGA championship-style golf courses. It’s the ultimate destination for a Northern Michigan outdoor vacation.
Tucked in the Sturgeon River Valley near Gaylord’s city limits, Otsego Resort is a classic summertime retreat 80 years in the making. Whether you grew up visiting Otsego Resort or you’re visiting for the first time, its relaxed familiarity will captivate you. It embodies the charming, slow-paced, small-town feeling you travel Up North to experience, and guests and staff alike greet guests with the warm hospitality of bygone times. Historically, the beloved ski resort and golf club has been private. Luckily for us, the family-friendly mecca for good-old-fashioned fun is now open to the public.
The club opened as a private ski club in 1938 in the heart of Michigan’s snow belt. The resort added summertime appeal for club members when Alan L. Gornick bought the resort in 1955 from steel magnate Donald McLouth. Gornick attracted golf lovers by building the resort’s “Classic” golf course, a William H. Diddle-designed championship track. Keith Gornick, Alan’s son, continued operating Otsego Club as a private club until Osprey Management Company purchased the club in 2007. Osprey opened golf and lodging accommodations to the public during the summertime only. Otsego Club remained the nation’s oldest continuing operating private ski club until 2017 when Osprey made the resort fully public in both summer and winter, blending members with guests.
Through its transition from private to public, the resort maintains its warm hospitality for both new guests and old. Visitors who were members know each other and share connections passed down over generations. Today, the resort is ripe to be discovered by the public. The welcoming character and casual, relaxed spirit of the property ensure that newcomers blend right in with long-time club members.
The resort’s affable staff, expansive wooded views, retro cocktail bar, nostalgic main lodge and a delightful fleet of Bavarian-themed lodges, chalets, condos and cabins set the scene. Travelers to this prized hideaway have different pursuits—golfing, hiking and fishing, to name a few—but they share a common mission: soak up every last fleeting moment of summertime in Northern Michigan.
Whether you visit for a weekend away with friends or need a venue for an adventure-packed family respite, Otsego Resort is the ideal setting to gather. Its lodges make it easy to spend time together in shared common rooms and patios. And the private, tucked-away nature of the property makes it a safe setting for children to play freely throughout the resort.
The retreat attracts golfers to its two PGA championship-style golf courses: the Classic and the Tribute. The Classic is a traditional country club-style course. It offers parkland terrain and stunning 20-mile panoramic views of the surrounding valley. The Tribute, a Rick Robbins and PGA tour veteran Gary Koch-designed course, spans 1,100 epic acres of winding natural forests, daisy-dotted hillsides, sprawling greens and sweeping views of undulating Otsego County forestland. Both courses are a blend of playable, challenging and breathtaking.
Off the golf course, Otsego Resort is a wonderful home base from which to set off on surrounding adventures, or visitors just sit back and enjoy resort property offerings. No matter the nature of your trip or your co-travelers, “bored” is not a word you will hear during your stay. Golfing, swimming, hiking, dining and special events top the list of on-property activity offerings. At night, guests stay up late playing pool over drinks at the Logmark Bar or enjoy dinner at the spacious Duck Blind Bar and Grille.
Those who appreciate a retreat packed with rest and relaxation enjoy the resort’s heated outdoor pool and many welcoming spots to sit back and soak in a view. Resort-goers are beckoned to settle in and watch the golfers hum by from an Adirondack chair-perch or take in the stunning 30-mile views from the main lodge.
When outdoor adventure calls, Otsego Resort is the ideal place to come back to after paddling, swimming, fishing or boating one of the region’s 90 inland lakes. The headwaters of five major area rivers start in Otsego County, and the Sturgeon River begins on Otsego Resort property. Local outfitters Wolverine Canoe Rental and Sturgeon River Paddle Sports have the gear you need to get out kayaking, fishing, canoeing or rafting near the resort.
Several miles of wooded hiking trails wind around the Otsego Resort property offering riverside, forest and hilltop views. Off property, hiking, biking and running opportunities abound. Otsego Resort is nestled amidst a wide variety of gorgeous trails, ranging from short and sweet walks at local nature preserves to breathtaking and challenging treks through nearby state forests. Favorite local trails include Aspen Park, The North Central State Trail (a crushed limestone path running for 62 miles from Gaylord to Mackinaw City), the Shinglemill Pathway in the Pigeon River Country State Forest and the Sturgeon River Nature Preserve. Animal lovers take note: the Gaylord area is home to one of the largest free-roaming elk herds east of the Mississippi in the Pigeon River Country State Forest.
While exploring, plan a pitstop to quench your thirst at one of the region’s outstanding breweries: Paddle Hard Brewing, Snowbelt Brewing or Big Buck Brewing. Though the resort is well-protected from the hustle of town, it’s close to the conveniences of downtown Gaylord. While in the area, don’t miss the unique Elk Park maintained by the City of Gaylord. It is easily accessible from downtown and gives wildlife fans the chance to take in the beauty of an elk herd from the comfort of a vehicle.
Whether you’re called to tour the beautiful river valleys of Otsego County or tempted to spend your stay posted at the resort, Otsego Resort delivers. The resort is your home for sweet summer days spent golfing, relaxing or relishing the outdoors. Let Otsego Resort carry you away to carefree days where the agenda is gloriously simple: Explore. Relax. Repeat.
Plan your trip and keep tabs on Otsego Resort’s latest stay-an- play golf and dining packages and family-fun events on OtsegoClub.com.
By Laurel Sutherland, a freelance writer and co-owner of Slabtown Marketing. Find more of her Northern Michigan adventures at minorthernsoul.com.