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Enchanting Island Escape

Click on image to see edited/printed version.
Click on image to see edited/printed version.

By Dianna Stampfler

Lake Michigan’s largest island is a haven for nature lovers and recreationalists seeking to paddle the shoreline, fish the inland lakes, pedal the gravel roads or simply enjoy an evening under the stars.

Visitors to the “Emerald Isle” can now find unique one-of-a-kind overnight accommodations at Beaver Island Retreat, which opened last summer. According to owners Maria Dal Pra and Brian Vaeth, it is one of only two such “glamping” facilities located on an island in the continental United States.

Situated just off King’s Highway (named for the island’s most notorious resident, self-proclaimed Mormon “King” James Strang), the resort currently offers 10 safari style tents spread out over 10 wooded acres.

“The layout of the campground was designed to allow for the greatest outdoor experience with as much privacy as possible,” says Maria. “Sites are more than twice the requirement by law, totaling over 2,500-square-feet with some sites up to 5,000-square-feet.”

Sitting atop a custom-built platform, each 16-foot by 11.5-foot tent features a queen log bed with a memory foam mattress and bamboo sheets, bath towels, lanterns and flashlights, Bluetooth speaker, custom-built chairs and clothing rack. A covered porch offers seating for two, as well as a kitchen cart with plates, cups and utensils. Each site also includes its own grill, a fire ring, picnic table, hammock and just about anything else one needs to enjoy a rustic get-away.

“It was a spur of the moment decision to take a trip to Beaver Island and it was the best decision we made all year,” says Kim Howe of Rochester Hills. “Our experience was exceptional from start to finish — both Brian and Maria are so dedicated to providing the best experience for their guests.”

Common areas like the laundry facility, fully stocked kitchen, covered cedar log pavilion and private bath houses give a home-away-from-home feel. Visitors are provided unlimited ice, water, firewood and charcoal, as well as all-natural soaps, a welcome bottle of wine and morning coffee. Add-on packages cover shuttle service, vehicle rental and grocery delivery.

This year, four tents are expected to be outfitted with solar power. A small guest garden with herbs and select vegetables, retractable clothing lines and an enhanced bar area within the pavilion are also among the new amenities.

Open Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend, Beaver Island Retreat is kid and pet friendly, as well as ADA compliant. Beaver Island is accessible via ferry or air service out of Charlevoix.