Charlevoix, a charming resort town located within minutes of Lake Michigan, is a destination for people of all ages, and is well-known for its iconic gnome and whimsical mushroom houses. These unique dwellings were designed by Earl Young, a local architect who also built several commercial buildings during his lifetime. One of these, known as Earl Young’s Weathervane Lodge, located at 120 Michigan Avenue, was built in 1959 and was in serious need of renovation, restoration, and some loving care. Silva Property Group, a family-owned property management company for 30 years, stepped in to give it just that.
“My wife [Jennie) and I have had a cottage in Charlevoix for over 20 years,” says Paul Silva, owner of Silva Property Group along with his wife and other family members. “Our first cottage was an Earl Young property.”
He didn’t want to just create a new hotel, he explains, but wanted to acquire something with a special story behind it. “I thought there were enough unique features to this place that we could enhance what was here and improve upon it. I wanted to get involved with this project because it was something that was special to the town. And, because Earl Young is iconic with Charlevoix, we decided to name it Hotel Earl,” he says.
Although Paul and Jennie remain active in the oversight of the hotel, which opened in September 2020, they partnered with Detroit-based Hotel Investment Services Inc. (HIS), to ensure that the hotel is run the right way, every day.
“We manage quite a few upscale boutique hotels in the state of Michigan, including Hotel Iroquois,” says Ian Fleming, general manager of Hotel Earl.
While updating and renovating the hotel, Silva Property Group and the designers focused on preserving many of the original details and characteristics of the hotel. “One of the big things for Earl Young was using stones from the area in the build,” says Ian. “So, we made that a focus of our lobby. We have the original fireplace from the lodge, the original mantel, and the stone on the face of the front desk.”
This stone was even incorporated onto the turrets outside of the hotel. “This was a two-story property and we added a third floor, so we wove in some of the original stonework to add to our third floor turrets, or ‘witches hats’, as we call them,” says Paul. “A lot of locals have commented that they look like they were built that way originally, so the stone masons did a nice job and it doesn’t look too obvious that we added on.”
They also tried to keep to the original theme when furnishing the property. “Our headboards in a lot of the rooms are live-edged, as is our boardroom table and some of the furniture in the lobby,” says Paul. “Although they may not be original to the property, they are original in theme because it was built back when mid-century modern was today’s kind of modern, hip décor.”
Totally updated as well are the bathrooms. “Our bathrooms are absolutely phenomenal,” says Ian. “The spacious showers, the lighted makeup mirrors, the undercabinet lighting - all these features are what makes them upscale.”
Along with the 56 guest rooms, Hotel Earl has a spectacular 1,500 square-foot suite. “We call it our Earl Suite, but it’s also what we call our bridal suite as well,” says Ian. “Charlevoix is a big wedding destination, and there are half a dozen wedding venues in the area that we have partnered with.”
The luxury suite has a full kitchen, 1½ baths, a master en suite bedroom with a king-sized bed, a living room with a pull-out sofa and a fireplace. In the kitchen, there is a large live-edge dining room table. The suite also features a wraparound balcony that overlooks Round Lake and downtown Charlevoix, so guests have a fantastic view. It also has a washer and dryer, so it’s easy to stay for an extended period of time.
If that’s still not enough space for you and your family, you have the option to make it even larger. There is an adjoining King room that can be reserved along with the suite, which will then allow six people to sleep comfortably.
Hotel Earl is also a great place to go without the family for a romantic getaway. For Valentine’s Day, they are offering a “Romantic Escape to the Lake” package.
“This is certainly one of our most popular packages,” says Paul. “It includes a rose petal turn-down service in your room prior to your arrival, a bottle of champagne and chocolate truffles, and breakfast for two the next morning.”
There are also quite a few fine dining options steps away from the hotel in downtown Charlevoix and one just on the northside as well, and there are many restaurants that serve casual fare. Of course, they’re all offering meals to go if you and your love would like to head back to your room for a private dinner.
Hotel Earl also boasts a full-service wine bar with an extensive wine list, and a wide assortment of beer from local breweries. “We do geographic cocktails as well, and have some small plate options for food, including pizza that is specially prepared by our partners in town,” says Paul. “We’ve been experimenting with all types of flavors.” There are also four heated igloos on property so guests can dine outdoors.
Every morning, there is a Continental Breakfast Buffet featuring locally sourced pastries, fruit, coffee, and juice. It’s a great way to start the day.
For those who like to work out, there will be a fitness center available for all guests. Plus, they are anticipating opening the indoor pool in early 2021. With floor to ceiling windows and doors that will open up to the outside, the pool will be part of a wonderful indoor/outdoor space, and there will also be an outdoor hot tub and rooftop deck area.
For businesses and corporations, there is a boardroom located in the hotel. “It’s a great place to hold meetings, can seat up to 12 around a live-edge table, and we have all the Smart connectivity to make sure your meeting goes off without a hitch,” says Ian.
The town of Charlevoix is also a great place for outdoor activities. There are trails for hiking when the weather is mild, and in the winter there is ice skating and skiing at Mount McSauba, which is just a couple of miles north of the property. The hotel will be offering an exciting ski package as well.
“When looking to get away for the weekend, it’s a great mix of both downtown entertainment and outdoor activities,” says Paul.
From Grosse Pointe, it’s no more than a four-hour drive. There’s also an airport approximately two miles from the hotel, so for those who might have access to private planes, flying in is another option. On arrival, the hotel shuttle van can come and pick you up.
Whether for a couple’s weekend or an extended family trip, a stay at Hotel Earl will make the occasion an unforgettable one. To reserve a room, or to find out more, go to www.hotelearl.com.
Things to do in Charlevoix
Year-round recreation destination. In winter, go downhill and cross-country skiing and enjoy snowboarding, snowshoeing, sledding and ice skating. In warmer weather, hike trails through beautiful wooded areas, play disc golf, and visit lovely beaches with sand dunes.
Earl Young gnome and mushroom houses tours
Tour Michigan offers guided walking or Gem Car tours to view these iconic homes.
Great family fun. Discover dragons, take a castle tour, and in the spring and summer, experience Michigan’s largest outdoor model railroad plus acres of gardens.
Ernest Hemingway tours
Ernest Hemingway married his first wife, Hadley, in a small ceremony on the shores of Lake Charlevoix. View the original marriage license at the Charlevoix Historical Society, and visit many of the other places where Hemingway spent time.