Geneva Beach Resort sits on Minnesota's oldest continuous resort site and looks like a postcard from mid-20th-century America. But don't call it an old-fashioned throwback.
"Our clientele needs Wi-Fi, they need the Internet, they need cellphones," said Tim Aarsvold, who owns and operates the place with his wife, Carolyn. "There are some people who want to go up into the Boundary Waters and escape all that, but for the most part our families want and need to stay connected."
So in 2006, a decade after taking over the property, the Aarsvolds installed Wi-Fi on a site that has hosted vacationers since the Hotel Alexandria opened there in July 1883. Since then, there have been changes in facilities and ownership, but one constant.
"It's always been run as a family operation," Tim Aarsvold said.
Geneva Beach near Alexandria has 16 lodging options, the latest addition a hillside house with four bedrooms. The Aarsvolds spent last winter refurbishing it. A few years earlier, they bought a house a few blocks away and turned their onsite residence into three rental units.
"We have lost close to 80 resorts in this area since the late 1960s," Tim said. "The ones that are surviving are the ones that are fixing their properties, staying ahead of the game."
That means physical work -- replacing window units with central air, becoming the kind of maintenance expert "who knows a little bit about everything" -- and playing off each other's skill sets.
"We've learned how to say, 'It's OK, you know how to do that better, honey,'" Carolyn said.
It also means adapting in creative ways: In the off-season, the Aarsvolds rent out a dozen units to students from an Alexandria-area community college.
The students probably appreciate the Wi-Fi, but not as much as the vacationers.
"A lot of them are self-employed or executives," Tim said of his summer visitors. "They need to be in a position where they can have some contact with what's going on. And the kids are on their cellphones and they're texting their friends.
"I don't know if I've seen a jigsaw puzzle out at this resort. But we do see a lot of PlayStations."