IZATYS – BACK AND BETTER THAN EVER
By R.J. Smiley
“Izatys is the best it has ever been,” Dick Tollette.
For property owners at Izatys and patrons who support the old Lake Mille Lacs resort life has been slip or slide. Constant changes in underfunded ownership and inexperienced management caused facilities and golf courses to slide into oblivion.
“We had reached rock bottom,” said Dick Tollette, Minnesota golf icon and long time Izatys property owner. “Then three years ago six businessmen from China purchased the resort. The hotel has been completely remodeled and the pro shop and clubhouse have been renovated since the investment group from China took over. In fact, today the resort is the best it has ever been.”
Izatys, located on the south side of Mille Lacs Lake has been a treasured Minnesota resort for over 96 years. Over the years, millions of dollars have been invested into the lakeshore property that was once only a restaurant, marina and some fishing boats. In the glory years Izatys boasted two 18-hole golf courses, designed by the Dye Design Group, a modern 147-slip marina, a new 36-unit hotel, conference center, lakeside townhomes and condos, and a very aggressive timeshare sales operation. For a decade the name “Izatys” was on the lips of every golfer.
During that period Izatys’ premier course, Black Brook, hosted the annual Championship for the Minnesota Section of the PGA. The pro-am event was one of the biggest tournaments in Minnesota. Izatys was also the venue for the Minnesota High School League State Golf Championship, Class A & AA, for several seasons. Izatys was host to several MGA Championships. The marina at Izatys was the perfect starting point and weigh-in location for big time walleye tournaments. The marina is large enough to accommodate the entire fleet of tournament fisherman’s boats. With the restaurant and conference center, it was perfect for members of the press to relax in comfort while covering the event.
Everybody knew about Izatys! Over the years Minnesota golfers and fishermen either played golf at Izatys or fished the big lake out of Izatys. They had been fed a steady diet of news of golf and fishing tournaments at the old resort. In fact, most golfers and fishermen have at least one Izatys story to tell.
If you are among the few who have never experienced the adventure of a trip around Black Brook Golf Course, wait no longer. Black Brook is a course that will challenge even the best players. On a calm day, when the lake resembles a mirror and club selection is not a problem, the bunkers and water hazards can be avoided and the course yields a lot of birdies. But when the wind blows and the white caps on Mille Lacs pound the rocky shoreline at Izatys, the course presents numerous challenges. On the inland holes the wind swirls in the canyon-like fairways, created by a forest of mature oak and maple trees. On the lakeside holes golfers experience what it is like to play golf in the blustery conditions found on the Scottish coast. Black Brook is fun to play!
The ownership group, with deep resources, and sound management, that includes some department heads that are holdovers from Izatys’ gloried past, have brought a stable product back to Mille Lacs Lake. This ownership/management team has turned the resort around. Gone are the days when the resort was on life support. “You can feel it in the air,” said Tollette.
The new ownership group is not interested in selling off Izatys’ real estate assets and leaving. This group of Chinese businessmen wants to create a profitable business in America and own it as a moneymaking asset into the future. Additions like a side-by-side ATV rental fleet help ensure that Izatys stays ahead of the curve with the dollars that they invest and help develop a strong future for the resort.
At any resort there are three elements that are required for success, superior lodging, tasty food served with flare and a variety of amenities for the fickle taste of today’s traveler.
Izatys lodging options start with the comfortable hotel rooms at the Inn at Izatys, the aforementioned newly remodeled hotel. These rooms overlook either the golf course or the marina. For couples and families that desire the thrill of lakeside living, the Lakeside Beach Villas will fit them to a tee. These original condo type units all face the lake providing a fresh photo op every minute. As the skies alternate from sunrise to sunset and wind conditions vary, that special shot capturing a memory, is just a click away. The lakeside townhomes provide similar views, but will accommodate families with children or couples who want great living spaces with private bedrooms. All of these lodging options may be included in Play and Stay golf or fishing package.
New for the 2018 summer season, Izatys has hired two new chefs. These taste genies plan to expand the already broad menu to include natural food selections and wild game offerings. Don’t let the word chef scare you into thinking that Izatys does not have good old American comfort foods. Their grilled 8 oz house made beef burgers can be delivered just the way you like it, server on a toasted Brioche bun. Steaks and pasta options provide the foundation for the menu.
Of course Golf and Fishing are the attractions that Izatys was built on.
For golfers who want to play golf until their hands bleed, Izatys has a spring Play and Stay packages for Black Brook starting at $89 per person. Unlimited golf with cart and a night’s lodging at the Inn make this package among the best to be found. See their website for the variety of golf packages. In addition to Black Brook, Izatys has a driving range and a four-hole course (what remains of the Sanctuary Course) that is free to all guests. The four-hole loop is a perfect place for families to experience golf on a real golf course.
Fishing starts with Mille Lacs Lake, home of trophy walleyes. But fishermen knowledgeable about Mille Lacs believe that the next state record Muskie will come from this big lake. Muskies up to 60” swim in these waters. In addition to Walleye and Muskies, Mille Lacs has developed into the best lake in North America for trophy size Small Mouth Bass. The past two years the Toyota Bassmasters Angler of the Year Championship has been held on Mille Lacs. The fish-for-money competitors say, “There are more trophy size Small Mouth in Mille Lacs than any lake we fish.” Izatys offers fishermen one of the best marinas on Mille Lacs. Launch fishing, the Mille Lacs way to fish, where a guide takes you where the fish are and baits your hook (no poles needed) is available. Come for a golf trip and go fishing to boot.
For those who have loved Izatys in the past – you will love it again! Izatys offers the full spectrum of other resort amenities too numerous to mention. Izatys is back, and better than ever.