September 4 – TRAVERSE CITY – A time portal sends Austin Powers back to 1969 in the first two films and 1975 in the third.
A trip to the 70s doesn’t require a movie character or fictional device.
An online reservation and decreasing availability is enough to go back five decades. That and an eight-bedroom, four-bathroom house on a hill just east of Chum’s Corner.
What started as a practical solution to a redecoration problem has become the 70’s Lodge, an Adventure North Vacation Rentals property that puts the rad in radical gear.
Upstairs there are rooms dedicated to TV shows like “The Brady Brunch”, “The Partridge Family”, “Charlie’s Angels”, and “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh In”. Down below are sleepy themes with James Bond, “I Dream of Jeanie”, “Mission Impossible”, and “Star Trek”. The basement also includes a Scooby Doo space with a twin bed.
Even the color of the kitchen, when asked which shade of orange dominated it, was described by property manager and owner Dan Brady as “1970s”. There’s even a framed photo of Ann B. Davis, who played Alice, the housekeeper in “The Brady Bunch.”
Brady, who also owns Dan Brady Painting & Wood Restoration, credited designers Denine Dingeman and Colleen Fowler with developing the theme, saying the pair did a lot of work adding all the different nods to the decade.
“The house was built in the 60s and flourished in the 70s,” Brady said of the simple fix. “To remodel such a large place with new light fixtures and cabinetry…I was looking for a way to make it look cool on a budget.”
And that’s cool.
John Ockert, co-owner of Oaky’s Tavern in Interlochen, used 70’s Lodge for an employee meeting and appreciation party on August 22.
“It’s like a museum,” Ockert said. “It’s great; it’s fun. It was the perfect place for us to relax and enjoy.
“It’s nice (decorated). You could spend a lot of time walking the halls looking at the artifacts of our lives.”
Julie Whalen of Allendale said her out-of-town guests liked to drop by the house before making decisions when the 70s Lodge threw a surprise 50th birthday party for her husband, Matt, a graduate of Traverse City St. Francis.
“All of our friends were thrilled to choose their rooms,” said Julie Whalen, who stayed at the little ranch Aug. 20.
Another reason Oaky’s Tavern and Julie Whalen used 70’s Lodge is because there is room for all six members of the Partridge family, Reuben Kincaid, eight members of The Brady Bunch plus Alice and Sam the Butcher, the six different angels employed by Charlie, Charlie himself and his associate John Bosley in the main house.
This does not include the small ranch house which sleeps four on site, giving 70’s Lodge the capacity to accommodate 29 people overnight.
Ockert said there were about 50 people attending the Oaky’s Tavern party counting all the employees, their guests, himself and his wife, Melissa.
“It accommodated everyone and we had people ranging in age from 14 to 65,” said Ockert, who said about 10 people ended up staying the night after a long day that included a lively kickball game. “He’s adapted to every age you could think of.”
Julie Whalen said the 70’s Lodge was a perfect place to surprise her husband Matt for his 50th.
Especially since it was a month before he hit the September 20 milestone.
Julie Whalen said there were around 70 people at the party and almost half of them stayed the night. Whalen said the property – which added a pool house last summer – has plenty of options throughout the day.
“We could do all of this and everyone had a place to stay,” Julie Whalen said. “You could fall asleep whenever you wanted or you could stay awake as long as you wanted. And no one had to drive.
“A lot of people said it was the best party ever. People loved it. It was a hit.”
In addition to Oaky’s, Dan Brady said several other companies held employee parties.
“We have a lot of people doing business meetings,” said Dan Brady, who said the rent covers the entire facility. “Business owners get together with their employees to do team building or just hang out.”
It is also a popular place for family reunions.
“You can definitely stay here and not go anywhere,” added Dan’s wife, Lisa Brady, who works full-time as director of development at the Great Lakes Children’s Museum.
Dan Brady said he knew the concept of providing a gathering place on the 10-acre property would sell. He just wasn’t sure it would be okay.
“Having a place that could accommodate that many people, I knew it would work,” he said. “I didn’t think it would be as popular as it was.”
The popularity of 70’s Lodge grew when the Bradys opened a huge pool house on June 18, 2021. The pool and recreation house opened a day before a wedding – the Brady’s. The date is painted on a cornhole located inside.
The new addition features an 18-foot by 40-foot outdoor pool, bar, outdoor televisions, and a six-person hot tub.
“It’s a fun place,” Lisa Brady said. “We love the families that come here. We have lots of family gatherings. They all love being able to stay together and with the pool the kids don’t want to leave.”
“A lot of people tell us, ‘we came with a lot of plans, but we canceled them all to stay here,'” added Dan Brady.
Dan Brady said 70’s Lodge rents differently at different times. July and August are primarily weekly rentals while Spring and Fall are primarily weekend rentals.
Rates also vary by season. Nightly rentals range between $800 and $2,300 per night while weekly rates range between $12,000 and $17,000.
“That sounds like a lot, but if you have eight couples and kids…” Lisa Brady began to say.
“When you divide it by 20 or 29, it’s really not that much if for two people in a hotel room you spend more than here,” added Dan Brady.
Julie Whalen said she was happy to only have to worry about providing food, decorations, alcohol and dessert for her party. Whalen said she once surprised her husband for his 30th and 40th birthdays with a Detroit Tigers game, which can also be expensive on transportation and tickets.
Plus, she said the 70’s Lodge was probably better received.
“There was something for everyone,” she said. “Everyone had their happiness, whether it was playing pool, going swimming, going to the hot tub.”
The Bradys said recent bookings have filled much of the June schedule and there are a few for September 2023. The rest of 2022 is also filling up.
“The rest of the year, I don’t think we have any weekends left,” Dan Brady said.
“If they want to participate in Christmas party requests, they should do so as soon as possible,” Lisa Brady said.
The 70’s Lodge is just one of the properties under the Adventure North Vacation Rentals umbrella. This also includes Let’s Travel rentals.
Dan Brady’s sister Shawne Cole is in charge of guest services. Lisa Brady’s father, Larry Pointe, and her brother, Andy Pointe, run maintenance. “We share the title,” Andy Pointe joked.
“It’s a total family affair,” Lisa Brady said.
The family connection with the 70’s Lodge is also strong.
Brent and Norma Walton built the house in the mid-1960s and sold it to the Ludka family in the mid-1990s. The Bradys are the third family to own the property.
The Walton family returned to their old home nearly three years ago around Thanksgiving to surprise Norma on her birthday.
“A lot of things were still the same, like the (kitchen) cabinets and some flooring,” Brent Walton recalled of his visit. “Of course he covered the (indoor) pool with a large family room.
“It was really exciting. There were a lot of memories. We had a lot of good times there.”
A portrait of the Walton family hangs in the 70s pavilion and the family took another during the visit, with the addition of some of the couple’s 16 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.
“We lined up the same as the original photo,” said Brent Walton.
When it comes to transporting his old home into a 1970s homage, Brent Walton doesn’t care.
“He had a great idea and it worked out well,” Walton said of Brady. “I’m happy for him.”