Interview: For Summer Travel, Planning Ahead Is Key

Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield spoke with Frank Soukup of Grandview Lodge (5:05). WCCO Sunday Morning - May 30, 2021

Video Transcript

SUSAN-ELIZABETH LITTLEFIELD: Now, some of us are still making those summer plans right now. And earlier today, I got to speak with Frank Soukup of the Grandview Lodge about the season. And he says, if you are going to try to head up north, you'll want to plan ahead. Good morning to you, Frank, joining us from Grandview Lodge. Glad to have you.

FRANK SOUKUP: Yeah, thank you very much, beautiful day.

SUSAN-ELIZABETH LITTLEFIELD: Well, you know, I spoke to you about a year ago, and things have changed a lot. Going into this big holiday weekend, I mean, how do you feel? Where are you at?

FRANK SOUKUP: Occupancy, it's at a very high level. I think we're seeing that across the board for all of our industry in the area. So we're very happy that masking has been loosened up a little bit and everybody feels a little more safer with their vaccinations and they're willing to get out of their house and enjoy what Minnesota has to offer.

SUSAN-ELIZABETH LITTLEFIELD: And we know, for people who may not be familiar with the Grandview Lodge, you guys are just about two hours north of the Twin Cities here. And tell me a little bit about how you would describe the property you have there.

FRANK SOUKUP: So it's kind of an iconic property, over 100 years old. It's on the north side of Gull Lake, so we're right next to the small town of Nisswa, which is a fantastic place to go shopping and everything. And that's one of the things that really helps out Grandview is our location. And we're so close to everything, and we're a bike ride or a walk away from shopping, turtle races, or getting groceries. So it's a beautiful thing.

SUSAN-ELIZABETH LITTLEFIELD: And you guys have a lot of different property types, too, right?

FRANK SOUKUP: Yeah, it's something for everybody, from our new hotel that we built, built in 2019, to the main lodge to cabins that can fit up to 20 family members all under one roof. So there's a lot of different options for people here, and they all take advantage of us, which is wonderful.

SUSAN-ELIZABETH LITTLEFIELD: Well, let's go back again to a year ago. How were you guys impacted by COVID-19?

FRANK SOUKUP: So a year ago, everybody was planning, like, one week out. The changes were coming down the bar. Nobody knew where we were back in March and April. And then, all of a sudden, we kind of opened up in May. And then we had a really great season. It was a really strong season.

The bigger problem was finding employment, kind of all the-- you know, getting all the options figured out. And we still had restaurants that were closed because they were at smaller capacities and everyone was dining outside. But you know, we had a great season last year, and I think most resorts would tell you the same. It was just a lot of our amenities were closed because of the options because of COVID.

SUSAN-ELIZABETH LITTLEFIELD: And do you think this year, there will be sort of a sense of relief?

FRANK SOUKUP: Oh, there is a complete sense of relief. You see it on everybody's faces as you walk around, you know, not having to wear masks outside, enjoying their coffees and walking the beach in the morning. I mean, it's a beautiful thing. And those that are vaccinated and feel confident about it are really starting to reap the benefits of it. So it's going to be a wonderful summer.

SUSAN-ELIZABETH LITTLEFIELD: So we know things are not exactly as they used to be. What will still be sort of different or protocols? What should people expect if they are going to come spend some time up there?

FRANK SOUKUP: So I think the one thing in our whole industry, besides at Grandview, is our cleaning techniques are completely different. It takes us a little longer because we're using fogging machines and other disinfectants to make sure that every guest feels confident when they walk into that cabin. I think that's the most important thing. We all have different safety levels we look for.

And that's where it really kicks off your whole weekend is when you're carrying your bags, you come into your cabin. You set them down, and it's like, now it begins. So making sure that they have that reassurance that we're doing the right things to make sure they're safe is the key for us.

SUSAN-ELIZABETH LITTLEFIELD: And this summer, what should people expect if they go up there?

FRANK SOUKUP: Well, a lot of fun, hopefully sunshine and warm weather. But you know, it's-- we're going to try to bring things back to normal again, and that's what we're really looking forward to is getting some of these activities that have been closed down for the last year and a half and getting them back up running and just trying to enjoy the area and what we have to offer.

SUSAN-ELIZABETH LITTLEFIELD: And last thing here, Frank, if people still want to try to get a space, is there any space open still for the summer?

FRANK SOUKUP: The best thing you can do is call. You can check out, you know, our online booking to see what's available, but it's here or there, you know, depending on occupancy. So trying to find that perfect fit for you might be better done with a phone call.

SUSAN-ELIZABETH LITTLEFIELD: OK.

FRANK SOUKUP: So--

SUSAN-ELIZABETH LITTLEFIELD: The old-fashioned way, love it.

FRANK SOUKUP: Yeah, it is.

SUSAN-ELIZABETH LITTLEFIELD: Well, Frank Soukup, we appreciate you joining us from Grandview Lodge.

FRANK SOUKUP: Thank you, Susan. Have a wonderful weekend.

SUSAN-ELIZABETH LITTLEFIELD: You too.