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All reviews water sports family vacation having fun elk lake an adult each morning perfect spot sports night young children ring a bell same week dining hall college students square dance wbl accommodation kayak
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Reviewed 31 July 2017

Do you ever get jealous of your kids going away to camp and wish there was a place for YOU to go do fun things!? Do you ever get home from your family vacation and need a vacation from lugging your kids' stuff around? Well, White Birch Lodge is a little like camp and a LOT like a relaxing vacation! WBL is the perfect family destination! Our kids LOVE it so much that they would choose a week at WBL over Disney or a week at the ocean or a week pretty much ANYWHERE else. We use this week as a family reunion (4 families) where everyone has their own cabin or accommodation, but we meet for meals together in the dining hall and can go off on our own or see each other as much as we like.

All inclusive means more than your 3 square meals a day (which a professional cook provides so you don't have to shop, cook, or clean!). Also included are water sports (ski, tube, wakeboard, paddle board, kayak, sail boats), sports (tennis courts, bocce courts, a basketball court, a soccer field, beach volleyball), and a rec hall for indoor table tennis and foosball. The staff is comprised of college students who do your dishes, drive your ski boat, entertain you with a ski show, provide a nightly bonfire for s'mores, and make your week as easy on YOU as possible.

AND... the staff will care for young children at "kid's camp" where they can spend 2 hours each morning and/or afternoon doing crafts, activities, sandcastle competitions, and play at the park. Parents can take a ski run knowing that their children are having fun while safely being entertained!

Monday night there is a friendly "sports night" where the staff take on the guests in various sporting events! Tuesday there is an old fashioned square dance (including some line dancing just for kicks). Wednesday night is an adult buffet (so you can have a date night) while the kids have a party on the basketball court, and Thursday there is a ski show full of tricks and laughter.

Staff (with the help of your kids) ring a bell and it's meal time! Meals are delicious with plenty of choices for young and old and everyone in between!

You can choose accommodation from a cozy condo with amenities to a rustic cabin. We stay in a cabin (#14) which has 2 separate rooms, 1 full bath (including a tub), and 3 queen beds. EVERY room is within 50 ft of Elk Lake and the beach area! This is our 12th year vacationing here! (My husband's family has been coming up for 25+ years!)

The Lodge provides it all. They have the skis, the lifejackets to fit all sizes, the picnic tables, the beach chairs, the beach toys.... The setting is picture-perfect with stunning, crystal clear water. Most people say the water is as beautiful as the caribbean! It may be a lake, but it is clean and clear. Don't know how to ski? That's ok. They will teach you! (Recommended age is 7 for kids to begin.) Don't know how to sail? They will teach you! Forget how to sit on a beach chair and read a book? It will come back to you! I promise!

Give this place a try! You will love it! It is only a 9 week season so be sure to book in! We have made lasting friendships because we go back the same week each year.

Room Tip: Vary from condos (air con and tvs) to cabins with screened in porches to dormitories with shared bathrooms. Most rooms have a small fridge.
  • Stayed: July 2017, travelled with family
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Service
Thank Mary K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 13 August 2016

My wife and I and our two 7 year olds had to decide between Disney, Myrtle Beach, the Bahamas, and a little known all inclusive resort in Northern Michigan. Based solely on Trip Advisor reviews we chose White Birch Lodge for something completely different. Let me assure you, it was. The ladies that handle reservations were very friendly and patient during booking ( I had a ton of questions). Many current staff members are college young men and women that have been guests at the lodge since they were children. They were the friendliest, most positive, kid loving group that you can imagine. Every staff member truly "gets it". White Birch Lodge is the exact opposite of a commercialized crowded vacation destination. Families truly come together at this resort and many long term friendships are made. My kids loved tubing, shuffle board, water skiing, camp fires, playing ghost in the grave yard, etc, etc. My wife and are we're very satisfied with the quality of all of the meals. Accommodations were perfect for the surroundings (keep in mind this is a rustic, old school type family vacation, not the Ritz). We asked the kids before we left where they want to go on vacation next year and without hesitation they said "White Birch Lodge". Many families, including us, have coordinated their schedules so we can get back together next year same time, same place. That says a lot considering we didn't know one person there just 8 days ago. Take a chance, you will not regret it!!!

Stayed: August 2016
1  Thank Mark P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 6 July 2016

This was our first year at White Birch Lodge. We were looking for an all inclusive vacation in the states. We have a 9 year old son and liked the idea that they have a kids camp and many activities to keep him occupied so that my husband and I could have relaxation time. Our experience was amazing. When you show up, all you do is unpack your clothes and you are on instant vacation. You don't have to think about where you are going to eat or what your are going to do. The amenities were fantastic. They had paddle boards, kayaks, canoes, skiing, tubing, swimming, sunbathing, sailing, bike riding, sports, yoga, golf nearby and I believe other things I am forgetting. The location is absolutely beautiful. The staff are so friendly and helpful. If you want to hire a babysitter, the college kids that work there are available for hire. All of your meals (food is great) and entertainment are provided. It was all very clean and the beach and lake are so pristine. Don't pass up a chance to go to White Birch Lodge, you will not regret it.

  • Stayed: July 2016, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
    • Service
1  Thank Marie H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 18 February 2016

White Birch Lodge is the perfect place for our family vacation. Elk Lake is beautiful, the accommodations are very comfortable, the food is great, water sports so much fun, and both the staff & other families are very friendly. What a wonderful place to spend a week, we can't wait to return!

  • Stayed: July 2015, travelled with family
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Service
2  Thank hjhglobal
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 10 August 2015 via mobile

When I Googled "Top 10 Family Lake Vacations", I was debating between Minnesota and Michigan (we've never visited or vacationed in either state). I was reminiscing about a roadtrip to visit family in Iowa and Chicago when I was between my 10yo daughter and 7yo son's ages and wanted to recreate the great American Heartland roadtrip for my kids. Plus, my husband is English and the closest he's ever been to a good, old-fashioned roadtrip was watching National Lampoon's Vacation (the original) as a kid. I saw the review for WBL on Trip Advisor that said it was like vacationing on the set of Dirty Dancing (throwback to the 1950s, family-style dining, screened in porches, daytime water sports, evening activities), and I knew I wanted to try it. This was going to be great for all of us.

After my first trip there, I am hooked and already made reservations to bring back three generations of my family next year. Plenty of other resorts have water activities on turquoise lakes, delicious food, and kids programs with fancier accommodation. We're coming back to WBL because it is on the right side of the Haimish Line.

The Haimish Line is a fantastic piece David Brooks from the NY Times wrote in his column about his families' recent vacation, depicting the various places they had visited that summer. His family found that they connected more with other guests and had more fun at the simpler camps than the did at the more private luxury camps: "I know only one word to describe what the simpler camps had and the more luxurious camps lacked: haimish. It’s a Yiddish word that suggests warmth, domesticity and unpretentious conviviality." Brooks went on to describe how his family began avoiding camps that crossed the invisible "Haimish Line" into more posh, stuffy camps that they could afford so they would have more fun at the unpretentious, convivial camps. WBL is the most haimish resort where I have ever spent a week.

Maybe it because WBL is a 3-generation family-owned business since 1958. Maybe it is because the owners have always made their profession out of teaching or instructing sports and a number of their loyal returning guests also seem to have education in common. Maybe it is because the 20-something college kids that run around and staff your visit are without exception the most polite, well-trained, friendly, welcoming staff I have encountered. It's the Midwest turned up to Eleven.

Thank you Conrad Family and WBL Staff. You gave this West Coast family everything I knew we needed, but also something I didn't know we needed in this age of connected devices and high-tech: good old-fashioned, face-to-face connection with wonderful people.

"When we’re shopping for a vacation we’re primarily thinking about Where. The travel companies offer brochures showing private beaches and phenomenal sights. But when you come back from vacation, you primarily treasure the memories of Who — the people you met from faraway places, and the lives you came in contact with."

Stayed: August 2015, travelled with family
22  Thank Delyn S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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