If you're thinking of visiting Stouts Island Lodge, you may want to seriously reconsider. It is not my habit to write such scathing reviews, but in this case it is definitely warranted. My husband and I couldn't wait to leave as our experience got progressively worse over a 2-day period in late August 2012. Read on:
PROPERTY MANAGEMENT & SAFETY -- We couldn't help but notice during our first afternoon of checking in and exploring the island that there didn't seem to be any manager around with an ounce of authority. The whole place appeared to be run by young, college-aged kids. Nice kids, certainly, but unseasoned. There was an air of nonchalance about the place that made us uneasy from the onset of our stay.
It all started with the missing bedpost finial in the room we paid a hefty nightly rate for (Allison's cabin). When we went to the office to report it, the young 20 something "manager" exclaimed "Oh, I checked with housekeeping and they said it's been missing for a while."
Then there were the 2-foot tall weeds growing in the gutter next to the main entrance. It would have taken me five minutes to get a stepladder and yank them out myself.
For two days the same broken wine glass stood at the top of the fire pit stairs, jagged edges upright, shards nestled inside, just waiting for someone to trip or fall on in the dark (the lighting is poor at night). There was broken glass on the flagstone surface around the fire pit as well. We finally took it upon ourselves to pick up the wine glass and take it to the office. It was becoming obvious that the staff wasn't going to do it. The same young "manager" took the glass and clucked "Tsk, tsk! Those boys!" Sounds like "those boys" have a bit of a reputation for not doing their jobs. Also sounded to me like a lawsuit just waiting to happen.
There is no apparent way to lock up your valuables. If you ask for a room key you'll be told they don't give them out. Sorry to burst your delusional Mayberry RFD, Island of Happy Days bubble there, Stouts, but get real. Any island guest, staff member, or sneaky boater could just waltz right into your room and have a field day while you're out having a swim. We've had stuff stolen from the most unlikely remote locations. Sad but true -- thieves exist everywhere.
Don't expect to be able to play a decent game of pool or ping pong in the boathouse game room. The pool table's faded, natty baize cloth looks like it hasn't been replaced in 20 years. The ping pong table was so battered I felt sorry for the poor old thing.
RESTAURANT - DINNER -- While the quality of the food was up to par, the wait staff was appallingly inexperienced for a number of reasons I won't bore you with here. The dining room was completely out of club soda both nights of our stay. On the second night when we asked for Perrier or San Pellegrino as an alternative, the waiter informed us the restaurant didn't stock either one. My husband had to inform the waiter that he saw sparkling water available for guest purchase in the office refrigerator earlier that day. The waiter just stood there looking baffled until we asked him if he would kindly go to the office and get a bottle.
At one point a fellow guest and I compared stories about how bad the service was. She complained that her server didn't bother to make her aware of the dinner special. She overheard it being offered to guests at another table, but by then it was too late -- she had already finished her entree. She would have preferred the special!
RESTAURANT - BREAKFAST -- The "complimentary" breakfast food was sparse and the quality absolutely dreadful, as was the service. Each morning I had to ask for the OJ and coffee carafes to be refilled, and once had to get up and find someone to set our table. On our second and thankfully final morning I overheard a small child from the next table ask "Daddy, why is it taking so long for you to get your jelly?" Even the little kids noticed.
FERRY -- The ferry did not run on time as promised, either on the hour from the mainland or 10 minutes to the hour from the island. Unfortunately my husband was not feeling well (what he thought was the onset of hay fever turned out to be a full-blown cold). After a trip to the drug store he was kept waiting on the mainland for 20 minutes while "those boys" stood around waiting for a delivery of something or other. Probably the club soda that never arrived. Nor could "those boys" be found anywhere near the boathouse at 8:50am one morning so my husband could get back to the mainland for another trip to the drug store. He gave up and waited another hour.
STAFF AFTER HOURS -- Here's the most horrendous part of my story and what was to become the absolute last straw. After a fun evening of sitting around the fire and talking with the other guests, we went back to our room to relax and get some sleep. I snuggled into bed at about 11:00pm to read for a while, turned out the light at about 11:30pm hoping to be lulled to sleep by the gentle lapping of the waves and perhaps some distant loon calls, when all of a sudden I heard LOUD, DRUNKEN HOOTING AND HOLLERING from the lawn below. I distinctly heard two female and two male voices so loud I could easily make out two of their names (DAVID!! ALEX!!) at decibels completely inappropriate for a resort that advertises itself as having "stylish quietude". I was damned if I was going to get out of bed and hand-crank 20 screen windows shut, so I laid there hoping the racket would eventually cease. (Meanwhile, my husband was out cold in a Nyquil-induced sleep, which only added to my frustration.) Eventually I heard this little group tramp down the hill to the boat house and start up a boat engine. Well, what do you know. The only boats I'm aware of that are allowed access to the main dock are affiliated with the lodge. As the boat took off over the water I thought to myself "Hallelujah! They're leaving!" Fat chance. They simply found a spot nearby to hang out, splash around in the water and scream, hoot and holler some more: YEEEEAAAHHHH!!! HAA HAA!! DAVID!! BBLAAAHHHH!! HAA HAA HAA!! ALEX!! BLLAAHH BLLAAHH BLLAAHH BLAAAHHH WOOO HOOOO HOOO!!" By 1:00am I'd had it. I was absolutely furious. After an hour and a half of listening to these obnoxious morons, I called the night manager. A very young sounding female voice answered and said "Wha'? Huh? I don't hear anything. The air conditioner is on. Well, OK, I guess I'll go out and see what's going on." A few minutes later I heard giggling girls running up and down the screened-in walkway between the main lodge rooms, then a door slamming, then . . . blissful peace and quiet. But it didn't matter. It's 1:15am. I'm wide awake. I'm still furious. I honestly don't think I got more than 4 hours of sleep that night.
The next morning I went to have a little chat with the 20-something "manager". She tried to skirt the issue, but I got out of her what I wanted to know: that this "David and Alex" were in fact somehow affiliated with Stouts Island Lodge and W.A. Frost. When I asked her to report it to management she said "If anything is said to those guys about it they'll just deny it."
As I sat in the dining room that morning, still steaming and having my last, lousy breakfast, I overheard an older man talking with a woman from the kitchen about someone named "Alex". Then, lo and behold, a hung-over looking, bedraggled young Alex appeared, said something briefly to the couple and left the room.
Never in my life have I had such a rotten experience anywhere in my 30 years of traveling the U.S. and abroad.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Stout’s Island Lodge sits proudly in the center of Red Cedar Lake – an 1800-acre lake in northeastern Barron County, Wisconsin. There are two island connected by a 100 ft. walking bridge (given to Frank Stout by Andrew Carneige). The two islands have a combined acreage of 18 acres. All lodging is located on the western of the two islands; the East Island has walking trails as well as a small picnic cabin on the northern tip. Red Cedar Lake is known for its water quality, its fishery and for its relative quietude. ... more less
- Also Known As:
- Stout`s Island Hotel Mikana
- Stout Island