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“Well, at least he's nice.”

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Shady Hollow Resort
Reviewed August 27, 2013

We rented a campsite last minute and found our location to be shady and quiet and the owner (gentleman) to be nice. The kids enjoyed the beach and the free use of the paddle boat. However, the tenting sites are surrounded by hills (three sides) so it flooded (min 4" deep) when it rained. On a dry weekend though, it would be lovely. One MAJOR issue: While we were gone, someone was in our tent. It's late in the season, so there were only two cabins rented besides us in our tent. When we returned, our rain fly was unzipped, in addition to the screen portion inside. There were muddy shoe prints in the tent. I am 100% positive that I did not leave the tent open, nor did I step in and walk around with muddy shoes. When I reported this to the woman at check out, she said, "Okay?" as though she didn't believe me or was asking what did I want her to do about it. I was not looking for any future discount, money back or even an apology. I was only letting her know that someone, another guest perhaps, was being disrespectful. Until that point, I would have returned for another visit. But instead, I left there feeling very negative about the hospitality. There was something about the way she looked at me; as though it were I who was doing something wrong, not the person who was in our tent.

Room Tip: If you're in the camping area and it looks like rain, find high ground.
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  • Stayed: August 2013, traveled with family
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1  Thank Lisa P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Diana D, Manager at Shady Hollow Resort, responded to this reviewResponded February 26, 2014

Hi Lisa, To tell you the truth, I didn't know what to say. This was a first for us. We have wonderful guests who enjoy the peace and quiet of our family resort. As a resort owner we have to be very careful about accusing others of going into your space. We are glad your kids enjoyed the free beach toys and use of the paddle boat. Our hope is that you will come again on a nice sunny day and enjoy our little campground and facilities. Thank you again for your review, we always welcome comments from our guests, it helps us to run a better resort.

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7 - 11 of 11 reviews

Reviewed August 11, 2013

We got a bargain on a brief stay at the Shady Hollow Resort near Brainerd, Minnesota. I expected rather rustic accommodations having done the "up north cabin rental" routine a number of times over the years, but I had hoped for something more than we found there.
My wife was the first through the door. As I approached she was stepping back out; her comment was three words: "Lower your expectations."
Yes, it had a mismatched clutch of the sort of old furniture you'd expect in a colorblind frat house. But I expected that. That is a staple of cabin culture. But at least they were trying with the addition of a gas fireplace. It didn't work, but I suppose there are points for effort.
Yes, it had the funhouse, built a room at a time thrice added on to layout that a nostalgic cabin tends to acquire over the years. In its infancy, there were no indoor plumbing facilities. But they were there- tiny and with working hot water. So I forgave that. It was what I ought to expect, and we I was still impressed with my own bargain-hunter value at having found us this last-minute getaway.
They had a nice enough small beach area next to the generous dock space and a few rental boats. So I was shifting things back into the plus column. The boats, like our cabin, had the hey-days-long-gone, sad look of things left untended, but the pontoon boat was a haunted shipwreck.
A water streaked, faded sign taped to the side announced that it was available for rent for $25 per hour. The mildew speckling over every visible surface along with the torn and abused interior advised otherwise. This wasn't a mild departure from showroom new- this was towed out of a boat graveyard where it had been left in the elements for too many years, then dropped dockside here to die a second time. I was willing to forgive the cabin, but even the frat boy decorator team was going to look for a different place to party than on this neglected barge.
Still- we were not here for the pontoon. This was a couples' getaway for my brother and his wife, my wife and myself. I was itching to get out in a simple fishing boat and drown worms with my brother. The "Queen Scary" wasn't part of our plans, and I put it out of my head.
There were paddle boats and kayaks and beach toys as well as a nice collection of toys for little kids in the beach sand. When my wife went to take a paddle boat out, she found out they were full of water and needed to be bailed out, so she decided against it. So again- old, neglected, a bit off the mark, but we were supposed to give them credit. It was the running gag of the weekend.
The fishing boat was the highlight of the weekend for me. We got to catch and release scores of teeny-tiny sunfish and bake ourselves out on the water. The outboard was ancient, but the lake was small, so even when it blurted out a loud 'Clunk' and dropped back into neutral, I knew we were close enough to the resort to row it in without too much trouble if we couldn't get it sorted. We shut it back down, levered it up and back through reverse, neutral, and forward and restarted it again with success. Fishless, but happy we returned to the cabin, where we began to add to the list of annoying negatives.
They apparently empty the debris from fish cleaning in the dumpster right by our cabin. Aromatic, and not pleasant. One of the docks is a 'floating dock' the rolled and dove like the floor of our cabin. Like everything else, its best days were well behind it.
The proprietor stopped by to deliver a space heater to make up for the broken fireplace- not quite an even trade, but he rewarded himself for the effort by bumming a beer from my wife. I found that odd, but like everything else I was excusing all of the shortcomings as elements of charm and atmosphere. This isn't a hotel- it is a cabin. But I was tired of that.
Mrs. Proprietor was grumpy. Mr. was much friendlier, but a bit scattered. When I reserved the cabin over the phone I was initially told they didn't take MasterCard- but then he remembered that it was American Express they didn't take. And I was told the boat rentals were $25 for the day. It turned out to be $50 and they stuck to that figure at checkout, the phone quote be damned. We weren't trying to chisel them out of part of the boat rental fee. We were just asking for them to honor what the Mr. had quoted over the phone. Heck, we didn't even complain when he re-rented 'our' boat to another fisherman even though we had it rented for the day- we were done with it and I don't begrudge them making a buck. I just wanted to be treated fair. And we weren't. And it really left a bad taste in my mouth well out of proportion to the small dollar amount.
Perhaps we were being given discounted treatment because we'd slipped in at a last-minute, discounted price. I'll never know. We'll never be back. Sure- we'll return to the Brainerd area a number of times, and even cabins that have a track record predating WWII, Our standards are simple and relatively low. We just won't be back here. I'll forgive nearly anything if I am treated fairly and greeted warmly. I can find that elsewhere. Cabin country has scores of small, warm, simple, rustic cabins.
If you do decide to give this place a go- remember the advice my wife gave me. Lower your expectations.

Room Tip: Avoid cabin one. The dumpsters are next to it along with the fish cleaning remains they put in the d...
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  • Stayed: August 2013, traveled as a couple
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4  Thank Mark K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Diana D, Owner at Shady Hollow Resort, responded to this reviewResponded February 26, 2014

Hi Mark,
Thank you for the review of our family run resort. We value all our guests comments, it helps us to run a better business. With the economy starting to turn around we have been able to invest in a new pontoon this year and many other improvements to our facility. The fish cleaning house has been an ongoing issue when guests throw the endtails in the dumpster on hot summer days, even though we have a sign in the fish cleaning house to ask them not to do that. If you have any suggestions, we are open to it. Usually we have a nice summer breeze off the lake to alleviate that issue with cabin 1. You are correct, some of our cabins are over 100 years old; having been added on to several times and updated. These are our “charming and rustic” cabins. We also have new and modern with central air conditioning and dishwashers. If you want to come try one of those and our new pontoon, just let us know.

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Reviewed July 23, 2013

We decided to take a camping trip up to the Brainerd area Summer of 2012 without reserving a tent camping site. We stopped at two well-known campgrounds and they were both booked. We were able to get our hands on a local tourist booklet and that is where we found Shady Hollow Resort. They had sites available and we are so glad they did! It turned out to be a great place. The owners were the nicest people, offering us to use their canoe and kayak for free! Nice little beach with beach toys provided for my kids, as well as life jackets, paddle boat, and a pontoon for cheap rental. It was a very homey, friendly, private place to stay. Will definitely be back!

  • Stayed: August 2012, traveled with family
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2  Thank Shawna G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Diana D, Owner at Shady Hollow Resort, responded to this reviewResponded March 14, 2014

Thank you for your wonderful review of our little place in the woods. Hope to see you again this summer, the beach awaits you.

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Reviewed August 12, 2012

We were looking for a perfect "up North" Minnesota experience to share with in-laws with typically vacation on the Rhode Island coast. Shady Hollow didn't disappoint.

Where to start? The beach is sandy and stocked with all of you'd need - kayak, canoe, water toys for kids, swimming platform, and a pontoon boat for rent. There's even a playground for littler kids. The owners (Rick & Diana) take good care of everyone.

Our cabin (one of the 4BR "tree-top twins") was clean and spacious, with a wonderful, very large screened porch. (The only negative: The ground level - where two of the bedrooms were - was a little musty; maybe that was just the time of year.)

Shady Hollow is a perfect combination of private and social. Our cabin felt fairly secluded and quite comfortable; we were never disturbed. But once we went out to the common area, our kids had plenty of other kids to play with, and we had some very nice conversations with other adults - all of which culminated in an intergenerational, multifamily basketball game with players aged 6 to 73. The resort seems to attract really nice people.

Shady Hollow is in a great location; as others have noted, civilization - big grocery stores among others - are barely 15 minutes away. But why bother leaving this place while you're there?

Bottom line: We and our in-laws were thrilled with the choice. Shady Hollow is terrific.

  • Stayed: July 2012, traveled with family
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3  Thank Minnesota75
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Diana D, Owner at Shady Hollow Resort, responded to this reviewResponded March 14, 2014

Thank you for the wonderful review of our resort. We are looking forward to having you visit us again soon.

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Reviewed August 16, 2011

Funnily enough, I was referred to Shady Hollow via a LOON CHAT ROOM (you know ... the famous wailing, lake birds?) People from all over the world want to hear the cries of these strange birds, and this location doesn't disappoint, however, I think they're a lot more vocal in the spring when they're courting and defending their territory, not so much now.
Never mind. Owners Rick and Diane run a little slice of paradise here on Hardy Lake. What can I say? The cabins are older, but charming, and the shower didn't run quite as hot as I would have liked, but that was small potatoes compared to what is GOOD about the place, and there is plenty.
For one thing it's clean and well run. The cabins are immaculate and so was our bedding. The property also has spaces for folks with RV's as well as tents to come and stay. There are clean toilets for them to use and a laundry around the back. There is also a sandy beach that Rick & Diane keep stocked with toys for the little ones -- paddle boats, a swimming pontoon, buckets, nets, a canoe, and a lovely little gazebo furnished with a table and chairs right in the middle of a native flower garden that edges the lapping water of the lake. Just the perfect place for a glass of wine and some conversation. I snuck in there to get out of the sun during the daytime with a good book, myself. The best thing I liked about Shady Hollow was the family atmosphere. Very safe, very kid-friendly -- especially for the younger set (under 10 -- older kids may get bored). Having said THAT, I would imagine the atmosphere of the place just depends on WHO shows up so I wouldn't say that it's STRICTLY a family place, because it's not -- mostly, yes, but I would imagine if that wasn't your thing, you could ask for a cabin up away from everyone or ask to go at a time when it would be quieter -- I would think anytime after school started would be ideal, like coming up to watch the leaves change color!
Shops, restaurants, a bowling alley and other amenities are only a 15 minute drive away.
All in all, I would love to come back. We had the best time and we're going to look back fondly on our stay here at Shady Hollow I can tell you for sure.

Room Tip: Bring sleepmask if you prefer sleeping in a darkened room and earplugs as kids playing outside can g...
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  • Stayed: August 2011, traveled with family
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3  Thank Dinasmom
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Diana D, Owner at Shady Hollow Resort, responded to this reviewResponded March 14, 2014

Thank you for the wonderful review. The Loons arrive as soon as the ice is off the lake in the spring, and yes that is the best time to see them. Hope to see you again this spring to see the bird and wildlife migration. Great spring rates too.

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Additional Information about Shady Hollow Resort

Address: 1009 Shady Hollow Road, Brainerd, MN 56401
Phone Number:
Location: United States > Minnesota > Brainerd
Hotel Style:
Ranked #4 of 5 Specialty Lodging in Brainerd
Hotel Class:3 star — Shady Hollow Resort 3*
Number of rooms: 8
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