Luxury in Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired Sanctuary
Steal away to secluded and romantic Canoe Bay, a Wisconsin wilderness retreat and the Midwest’s only Relais & Chateux property. The one-bedroom Rattenbury Cottage, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright’s protégé John Rattenbury, is built into a hillside overlooking a private lake on 280 wooded acres.
Wisconsin is Wright’s birth state boasting over 200 of his architected homes, plus Taliesin East, his home and studio now open for tours.
Using Wright’s principles of “organic” architecture Rattenbury employed all-natural materials inside and out to seamlessly meld the cedar-and-stone namesake cottage with its surroundings. The open interior of the cottage featuring soaring 15-foot angled loft ceilings, a massive stone fireplace and clerestory windows allows communion with nature from within.
And that’s just what I did all one weekend. Curled up on a sofa near the fireplace, I alternated watching the dancing flames inside and the drifting snowflakes outside as they blanketed the cottage’s cantilevered deck, the earth, the trees and Lake Wahdoon.
There was time too to luxuriate in the oversized bathroom with its two-person whirlpool, double sinks, and a “wet room” shower with two showerheads, one the size of a giant sunflower. Edgewood, another Frank Lloyd Wright home-away-from home at Canoe Bay, includes a Finnish wet/dry sauna, walk-in steam shower, and a two-way fireplace enjoyed in both the bathroom and the bedroom.
A Minnesota couple visiting Canoe Bay for the fourth time shared their thoughts: “From the fresh flowers everywhere and other fine appointments to the attentive service, we feel totally and completely pampered whenever we visit.”
And a New York City couple enjoying the Rattenbury Cottage said: “It was a great unwinding experience here for us from the frenetic big city life we come from.
For any golfers, Turtleback, a 35 minute drive, is rated 4-and-a-half stars out of 5 by Golf Digest, is great fun and at $42 a bargain.”
All accommodations at Canoe Bay, seven suites and 13 cottages, are scattered and sited to ensure undisturbed privacy. It’s easy to “cocoon” here as the resort staff is almost invisible, disappearing unobtrusively after delivering breakfast to the doorstep with a quick knock at the door.
Guests do rise and leave their private sanctuaries for a walk in the woods or an intimate candle-lit dinner. In the dining room Chef Scott Johnson produces sumptuous meals in the James Beard tradition, relying on the freshest possible ingredients to speak for themselves. For complete privacy, a couple might choose to dine secluded in the red wine cellar adjacent to the Wright-styled dining room. Guests staying in Edgewood, the Rattenbury designed “guest house” with professional kitchen, can make arrangements for one of the resort’s chefs to prepare a private gourmet dinner as they look on, seated by the fire sipping wine.
Proprietor Dan Dobrowolski believes that “art is not an idle thing. Art is something to be enthusiastic about, to look at, to touch, to feel.” Wright-inspired architecture offers wide walls of windows framing the woods and lake outside. At Canoe Bay the indoor experience matches the serene beauty of the outdoor natural setting.
There’s no need to fly away to Relais & Chateaux locales like Amberley Castle in the United Kingdom, LeTaha’a’ in French Polynesia, or Whare Kea Lodge in New Zealand’s Alps.
Canoe Bay, tucked away in northwestern Wisconsin a six hour drive from Chicago and two hours from Minneapolis/St. Paul, soothes and relaxes. Proprietor Dan Dobrowolski and his wife Lisa found their piece of heaven here and share this heaven with their guests.