Local Business Spotlight: Lutsen Resort
The Local Business Spotlight highlights our local business community’s economic strength and innovation. This feature is brought to you in partnership with Visit Cook County and the Cook County Chamber of Commerce.
For over a century, Lutsen Resort has etched its legacy into the landscape of the North Shore, providing generations with a sanctuary for solace, adventure, and enduring memories.
Since its establishment in the mid-1880s by Charles Axel (C.A.A.) Nelson Lutsen Resort has passed through several hands of ownership. The most recent steward to assume control of the resort was Bryce Campbell in 2018.
Campbell said he was immediately drawn to the architecture of the Lutsen Resort lodge as it resembles that of a historic National Park lodge, describing that it “spoke to us right away.”
While 2020 and the pandemic proved to be a curveball for Campbell and many other businesses along the North Shore, he said he is “absolutely loving the business.”
If one challenge wasn’t enough, Campbell and the Lutsen Resort team encountered another during the spring flooding of 2022. Lutsen Resort’s historic red-covered bridges experienced damage during the high-water conditions. Campbell said he remembers watching in disbelief as a chunk of the river bank eroded into the Poplar River and debris severely damaged the two bridges.
Following the destructive flooding event, Lutsen Resort began planning to salvage and restore the two bridges on the Poplar River. After a temporary hiatus to secure permits, Campbell said Lutsen Resort is excited to share that they have bridge reconstruction renderings in the works, and rather than reconstruct both bridges, they intend to salvage parts of the upper red bridge to combine with the lower bridge.
“Our plan is to merge the two together,” Campbell said. In doing so, it’s almost as if they can bring both bridges back and preserve some history. “We’re stewards of that. We need to bring it back and preserve that piece of history for everyone.”
The resort manager, Edward Vanegas, said they have assembled a team of experts and engaged with various multi-jurisdictional agencies to move the process forward. While Campbell and Vanegas are gearing up to reconstruct the iconic lower red bridge, they are also directing their focus toward the resort’s future.
As Lutsen Resort undertakes the restoration and construction of its historic red bridges, Campbell and Vanegas are actively planning for additional improvement and development projects within the Lutsen Resort property. They intend to expand the main lodge by creating new spaces on the third floor and adding wings or additions to the main building.
Construction of the third-floor spaces is currently underway and is nearing completion, Vanegas said. “That’ll be coming this fall.”
Other development plans are to consolidate the parking to one central location, fostering a pedestrian-friendly environment for visitors. Campbell also revealed the resort’s acquisition of White 706 buses, commonly known as “Red Jammers,” to provide tour opportunities for guests. Lastly, Campbell envisions the creation of a Nordic Spa reminiscent of those found in the scenic landscapes of Alaska and Canada.
Vanegas and Campbell perceive Lutsen Resort as a lodge that mirrors the architectural style found in National Park lodges. Vanegas explained, “This is our way of having a National Park lodge in Lutsen and operating it like a historic monument to the community.”
WTIP’s Kalli Hawkins spoke with Bryce Campbell, the president and CEO of Lutsen Resort and Edward Vanegas, the resort manager of Lutsen Resort, in the latest edition of the Local Business Spotlight, which is produced in collaboration with Visit Cook County and the Cook County Chamber of Commerce. Audio from the feature is below.