Historic Saugatuck Inn Sees New Life as Modern, Boutique Hotel

Photography courtesy Christian Giannelli Photography
Hotel Saugatuck - Exterior
The refurbished grist mill is a Michigan Historic Landmark.

Rich in history, modern in amenities, The Hotel Saugatuck (thehotelsaugatuck.com) offers the latest in luxury accommodations in a coastal community known as the Bed and Breakfast capital of the Midwest.

But it’s not the traditional B & B where guests sit down to a big breakfast with the innkeepers and strangers. Instead, a chef’s choice breakfast is brought to the room every morning and homemade dessert is delivered at night.

“We tried to be respectful of the history but bring that boutique, modern vibe to what we’re doing.”
— Al Heminger

Two brothers, Al and Tim Heminger, purchased the former Twin Gables Inn and embarked on a yearlong, $2-million renovation project to save the deteriorating 10,000-square-foot structure. A Michigan Historic Landmark, the main building dates to 1865 and is the last original mill still standing from the bustling lumber era.

Hotel Saugatuck - Lobby, Bedroom

The Hotel Saugatuck, 900 Lake St., reopened in October 2016 as an upscale, boutique hotel, a few blocks from the heart of downtown, and most rooms have views of Kalamazoo Lake.

“We tried to be respectful of the history but bring that boutique, modern vibe to what we’re doing,” explains 42-year-old Al, who is more hands-on in the hotel’s management. “We could have torn the property down, but we felt because it was a historic landmark, we owed it to the people of Saugatuck and the people that had come well before us to save that property.”

Hotel Saugatuck - Eggs Benedict
Eggs Benedict is one of several breakfast offerings.

A former teacher and coach, Al helped start the football program and recruit students as director of admissions for Howe Military Academy. But after four years of traveling, he was ready for a life and career change. In 2013, he and wife Karrie decided to buy Huron House Luxury Bed & Breakfast in Oscoda.

With three young children, they didn’t want to run a B & B in the traditional sense, making breakfast and entertaining guests. They also reflected on their traveling experiences: Spotless accommodations, relaxed, and romantic and dedicated alone time topped the list. They decided to offer a new twist on the boutique hotel and B & B concept with complimentary breakfast delivered at each guest’s chosen time — plus dessert at night. It was a hit at Huron House, and guests encouraged them to open something on the state’s west side.

“We try to focus heavily on the guest experience,” Al said. “Each room is designed differently, and not everybody wants to come and sit at that communal table in the morning. We focus on the romantic getaway.”

Hotel Saugatuck - Walkway
Modern luxury amenities and proximity to water make the Hotel Saugatuck a tasteful retreat.

The concept appealed to Brad Troyer and his wife. “One reason we like it is that they bring the breakfast to your room,” said Troyer of Schoolcraft, who enjoyed a romantic getaway with his wife over the holidays. “All the little details were thought out. Just being so new and nice, it was a very good experience.”

Hotel Saugatuck’s historic main hotel has 12 rooms, all renovated with amenities such as Jason hydrotherapy tubs, Turkish towels, and a breakfast nook and wet bar. Some have fireplaces and private patios, plus perks like Netflix and bedside charging ports. There are three cottages on the property with similar amenities.

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