The way it stays

Nostalgic cottage resorts — old and new — are foundations for homespun fun.
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Chimney corners group pics

Chimney Corners Resort on Crystal Lake in Frankfort has been welcoming guests since 1935, when Olin and Leola Rogers turned their vacation home into a lodge during the Great Depression. Leola knew attention to details would make a good impression on guests. So she made sure there were rose petals in the finger bowls next to each plate for the wonderful home-cooked meals they served there.

kids on lake dock

Nearly 80 years later, the Rogers’ grandson, Jim Jr. and his wife Mary Gillespie Rogers, are still serving memorable meals to guests, some of whom may even be descendants of the original visitors. For many, returning year after year to the place where their parents and grandparents first started going is a sacred tradition.

kids standing in front of recreational map

Although the cottages and main lodge have been updated, the attractions remain the same: swimming, playing tennis, fishing, kayaking and hiking the trails on the 300 wooded acres.

dad and kids on raftTo the Rogers, running the resort isn’t a job, “it’s a lifestyle,” said Mary. “We’ve built a community of friends and family, and our kids, who are 15 and 13, feel like it’s the best place in the world to live. It never leaves you; it’s part of who you are.”

Dolly BrookJim and Kim Keag (pronounced “keg”) finally fulfilled their long-time dream of opening a year-round resort on the beautiful Fennville property they purchased in1992, a former turkey farm where they raised their four kids. DollyBrook Family Resort opened in 2011, but the nine charming cottages they built in shades of red, aqua, yellow and blue look like they’ve been there forever. So do the firepits, which have seen more than a few marshmallows.  

Dolly brook living room and kitchenJust five minutes from Saugatuck’s Lake Michigan beaches and bustling shoreline community, DollyBrook isn’t on a lake, “But people appreciate that they can have all the beauty of staying in the country, with everything really close by,” says Ali Keag, who runs the resort with Kim.

COTTAGES Dolly Brook WaterwaysEven in the short time since it’s been open, DollyBrook is enjoying repeat customers. “One couple from Chicago has been here seven times,” notes Ali, “and they always stay in Cottage #3, which they call ‘their’ cottage.” 

COTTAGES Dolly Brook Waterways PhotosIt’s no different at Chimney Corners, where cottages families stay at a week or more every year are claimed as their own. For these resort owners, you can’t get a better recommendation than that.

— Keasha Palmer

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