The first hotel on Lake Minnetonka in more than half a century opens this weekend in Wayzata, staging a sort of mini-comeback for the era of grand hotels that once dotted the shoreline.
A soft opening with private parties will be held Saturday for Wayzata's The Landing, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and public opening scheduled for next Friday.
"Having a hotel in Wayzata is one of the most significant things that has happened in that community in 50 years," said Steve Bohl, the developer of the hotel and an adjacent condo building. "It adds a whole new use in that town. Now we actually have a place to stay."
Developers in Wayzata and Excelsior long have tried to resurrect hotels on the Twin Cities' most popular lake. The Landing boasts proximity not just to Lake Minnetonka but several corporate headquarters and freeway access to downtown Minneapolis.
Across Lake Minnetonka, a proposal to build a much-anticipated but controversial 58-room boutique hotel in Excelsior was nixed in 2015 when a developer said the construction costs were too high. It would have been a landmark hotel, reminiscent of the old hotels on the lake, but the grassy lot where it was planned only yards from the lakeshore still sits empty.
About 40 hotels operated on Lake Minnetonka at the hotel era's peak, drawing wealthy city residents beginning in the 1880s. By the early 1900s, however, many of them had shut down either because of slow business or fires, and the last was torn down in 1964.
Since the early 1990s, developers have pursued hotels on the lake but faced questions over whether they could stay open outside the popular summer months. In Mound, a study concluded that a hotel wouldn't work economically.
As crews wrapped up work on this week on The Landing, delaying the hotel opening by a few days, Bohl wasn't concerned.
The hotel, managed by New England-based Hay Creek Hotels, is expected to draw 30,000 visitors a year from wedding guests to business travelers. About 900 hotel rooms with an average rate of $220 have been booked; the high-end presidential suite goes for $1,100 a night.