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“My business experience was completely unrelated to the hospitality industry,” he said. “And, at 58, I’m old enough to know better.”
He purchased Izatys’ 78-slip marina, 28-room hotel, clubhouse and golf course last May. Only the golf course was open last summer.
“It was rotting away every year,” Fink said. “If someone didn’t do something, the mold would have taken over, so it’s turned into a major project.”
With pallets of bricks and shingles and the swimming pool still drained, he admits it looks like chaos, “but things are happening fast right now as we start hiring and put on the finishing touches.
“There are always hiccups along the way, but I think the economy is coming back, and we’ve seen a huge amount of interest,” Fink said. “It’s a good opportunity and a good location — only an hour’s drive from the northern-tier suburbs.”
The band’s big plan
The tribal development arm of the Mille Lacs Band is equally optimistic. In 2002, the tribe bought Eddy’s, which dates to the 1960s, and closed it in September for demolition. The buildings were razed this spring, and the band is investing at least $10 million in a posh new 64-room resort, restaurant and marina.
The plan includes adding eight private two- and three-bedroom lakefront cabins. The renovation will include moving a parking lot away from the water to preserve the lakeshore and maximize views.
It’s the band’s latest foray into the hospitality business as it tries to diversify revenues from its gambling pillars: Grand Casinos and hotels at Mille Lacs and Hinckley. The band recently announced it was purchasing two downtown St. Paul hotels.
“We saw an opportunity to refresh the Eddy’s property,” Nayquonabe said. “The economy of the entire region revolves around Lake Mille Lacs, and Eddy’s resort is no different.”
Nayquonabe said walleye fishing has long been Mille Lacs’ calling card, but he thinks that will change as the lake becomes a more all-around family destination.
“By helping boost tourism in east-central Minnesota, we think it will be a win-win for the Mille Lacs Band and the entire tourism industry,” he said. “We are making a significant investment in the renovation of this lake resort because we strongly believe in the future of the lake.”
Curt Brown • 612-673-4767