If you were one of the 800,000 visitors to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore on Lake Superior last year, chances are you stopped at the Roam Inn
(roam-inn.com) in Munising, gateway city to one of Michigan’s most popular tourist attractions. The inn joins the short list of Michigan’s newest luxury hotels, and the creative, locally sourced offerings at companion Tracey’s Restaurant is earning accolades for owners Tom and Ana Dolaskie. According to Buzzfeed and Yelp, Tracey’s was ranked as the best new restaurant in Michigan in 2017.
Heady stuff, to be sure, but not surprising if you consider the 38-year-old Tom’s passion to go “far beyond the ordinary,” and his vast experience with helping open more than 80 new hotels from Manhattan to Bangkok. That experience comes from his partnership with a Texas company called Deployed Technologies, which provides state-of-the-art security systems, or what Dolaskie calls “the backbone of luxury hotels.”
Munising, population 2,200, is not Manhattan, so why invest $2.5 million to renovate a 27,000-square-foot lumber baron’s home that began life in 1886, served as a hospital and nursing home for 60 years and then remained shuttered until Tom and Ana decided to turn it into a must-stop experience?
“I grew up in Munising,” explained Tom, who came home in 2008 to stay. “Creating the Roam Inn from an old building that was uglier than sin was an exciting challenge for us.”
Tom’s research showed only two area motels were open year-round. If he built a new hotel, he knew visitors would come. And, they have: in summer to kayak, fish and photograph the Pictured Rocks, and in winter to snowmobile and ski. Munising is not only a destination for many but an ideal stopover for U.P. travelers going elsewhere.
Planning took two years, and the Roam Inn opened in October 2016 with nine double-occupancy rooms and nine luxury suites, each of which features accents and décor from locally hewn maple. Prices range from $99 to $189 per night.
As lovely as the rooms are, the jewel is Tracey’s with its hard-maple tables, full-service bar and eclectic menu. One of the region’s few fine-dining locations, Tracey’s draws regular patrons from Marquette, a 45-minute drive west, and a steady flow of tourists. As a hands-on owner, Tom is no rookie to kitchen duty; at age 11 he began working as a line cook with his mother. The 48-seat Tracey’s opened on Valentine’s Day 2017 with executive chef Jason Biega, who trained in Hawaii, in charge.
The 29-year-old chef quickly established quality, farm-fresh suppliers from throughout northern Michigan and the U.P. Smoked whitefish, for example, for his popular Agnolotti ($27), come from Munising, buffalo for Bison Lumpia ($11) from Rudyard and lamb for shepherd’s pie ($23) from Rapid River.
“How will you remember me?” Tom asked and then answered his own question: “By offering original and affordable menu choices served by a trained staff whose job is to make sure you’ll never forget your experience.”