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Progress Edition 2022: Nature Link Resort Helps Guests Disconnect – Brainerd Dispatch

NISSWA – Winding walking paths, outdoor reading nooks, lake views and rustic-yet-modern cabins merge on the shores of Lake Clark to create one of the newest resorts in the Lake District .

Nestled among the trees but only minutes from downtown Nisswa, Nature Link Resort sits just off the Paul Bunyan State Trail and aims to connect guests with the natural world around them.

A view of Lake Clark shows the lake side of Catalyst by Nature Link, the soon-to-open event center at Nature Link Resort in Nisswa.

Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

The resort with its adjoining event venue – Catalyst by Nature Link – was born out of a mutual desire between couples Kate and Tony Becker and Ben and Zoie Vanden Wymelenbergs to open new businesses.

The Beckers were looking for a location for a wedding venue, while the Vanden Wymelenbergs wanted a place to build a resort.

A woman holds a design rendering in front of a clean room under construction
Site Operations Manager Olivia Goskey shows what the space will look like once the renovations are complete.

Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

“When we connected about this, we knew it was the perfect opportunity to team up and combine the two, because our vision of what we wanted to create was so aligned,” the owners said in an email. -mail.

This vision includes a strong focus on nature, as the name suggests. Nowhere on the 14 wooded acres will visitors find a television, and outdoor amenities abound. Free bikes, canoes, and kayaks await guests, who are encouraged to use the lake or hang out on the beach, sit around the fire pit, and use the s’more kits they receive upon check-in.

Towering pines stand in front of the cabins
Five cabins at Nature Link Resort are available to accommodate guests. The structures date back to the time of ownership as Minnewawa Lodge.

Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

Five finished staterooms are ready for guests, with full-size galleys and sleek marble and metal finishes in neutral black and white tones. Wooden accent pieces give the structures an outdoor, northern woodsy feel, perhaps enticing guests to explore the grounds and become familiar with the surrounding environment.

Efforts to renovate the existing cabins are underway, as the Nature Link team seeks to preserve the historic buildings that were part of Minnewawa Lodge, one of the oldest resorts in the state that operated on the property there. decades ago. When the lodge closed, the grounds hosted Minnesota hockey camps for over 40 years before being sold to the owners of Nature Link.

Construction workers stand in the work area in front of an unfinished building.
A view of Lake Clark shows the lake side of Catalyst by Nature Link, the soon-to-open event center at Nature Link Resort in Nisswa.

Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

“We are therefore delighted to restore it to its original intent as a resort,” said Olivia Goskey, site operations manager at Nature Link.

After a soft opening on April 1, the owners are planning a grand opening celebration in September, when the resort’s event space is full and open for business.

Still under construction, Catalyst by Nature Link is booked for its first wedding in mid-September. Goskey can’t wait for the first party to set foot in the brand new venue and enjoy the inviting light from the floor-to-ceiling windows, sweeping lake views and outdoor patio.

The Sky Suite and Lake Suite will provide comfortable accommodations for newlyweds and wedding parties to prepare for the big day, with kitchenettes, wet bars, makeup mirrors, convenient storage lockers and comfortable sofas. Arcade games and access to lawn games on the patio are intended to help those involved in the proceedings relax before the event.

A bed with white sheets sits enthroned in a room with a light parquet floor.
Clean lines and neutral fixtures adorn the cabins at Nature Link Resort on Lake Clark in Nisswa.

Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

A grand staircase will extend from the lobby to the upstairs area, which includes the main event space, where couples can get married with full views of Lake Clark.

The downstairs reception hall and outdoor space will be ideal for dinner, dancing and whatever other festivities guests have in mind.

A suite of vendors will be available for photographers, coordinators, or anyone else integral to the day’s event who needs a place to set up or store gear.

A separate catering entrance will allow food and drinks to be set up without disturbing those in the rest of the room.

The unfinished building has floor-to-ceiling windows on one side
A view of Lake Clark shows the lake side of Catalyst by Nature Link, the soon-to-open event center at Nature Link Resort in Nisswa.

Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

The Beckers’ background in wedding photography gave them unique insight into everyone’s needs on the wedding day, and they designed Catalyst to make the day stress-free for everyone involved – not just the couple and their families, but also vendors and guests.

“They really tried to think of everyone who would use that space rather than just focusing on one area,” Goskey said. Weddings aren’t Catalyst’s only intended use, however.

Retreats are already booked for the space, as is a nonprofit gala later in the fall. Goskey also sees holiday parties, conferences, and several other types of events in the future of space. A local school has inquired about hosting a prom at Catalyst, and a yoga retreat could also be considered.

A table and black chairs sit in a room on light parquet.
Jasper Struthers, hospitality manager and adventure advocate at Nature Link Resort, walks through one of the property’s cabins, making sure everything is in order after guests leave.

Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

“We would love to be able to work with different businesses in the area and host community events,” Goskey said. “We also want to have an open house this fall once it’s all finished so we can invite the public and all of our reserved couples and interested couples to come and check everything out once it’s built.”

The space can accommodate up to 225 people and is designed to have a modern look without appearing out of place next to the lake and among the other natural features in and around the resort.

“There are lots of clean lines, lots of bright, natural light, and a neutral color palette too, like black leather, ivory, white, metal wood. Just lots of natural but not rustic elements,” Goskey said.

But if Catalyst guests want to get a little closer to nature — and the weather is cooperating — they can use the outdoor ceremony space, perfect for weddings and other gatherings. Benches set back in a clearing among towering pines combine with different arch options to make the bridal couple feel like they’re one with nature on their big day.

Wooden benches line a clearing among tall trees.
A glade in the trees serves as an outdoor ceremonial space for events at Catalyst by Nature Link.

Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

“We try to keep as many trees as possible because we don’t want to cut them down,” Goskey said, noting that the event space was moved a few feet from the original plan so that two of the tallest large trees of the property could be spared.

“We definitely try to preserve all of our beautiful pines,” she added.

And if guests need to hang out between events, they’re free to walk along the pathways through the wooded area, stop to relax on one of the seating options, or relax with a book in one of the reading corners of the trails.

Nature Link can currently accommodate 40 people in its five cabins, but the owners plan to have 12 full by the end of the year. A lakeside sauna and boutique motel are also on the list of future projects, aimed at providing guests with a luxurious experience.

The small team of eight will no doubt grow with the completion of Catalyst, and the owners anticipate a boom in business for local caterers, florists, photographers, bridal shops and other wedding vendors.

Nature Link already partners with The Chocolate Ox to offer free chocolate truffles to guests and provides visitors with lists of other local hotspots to check out during their stay.

“We want our guests to be able to experience nature indoors and outdoors,” the resort owners wrote in an email. “Our staff will also focus on helping you get out into nature. Whether it’s showing you things to do in the area or locally, they’re here to help you disconnect.

Unplug for a while by booking a weekend at Redwood Cabin, hosting a party at Catalyst, or visiting the private island of Clark Lake to experience what the great outdoors has to offer at Nature Link Resort.

Company: Nature Link Resort.

Town: Niswa.

Number of employees: Eight.

Interesting fact: There are no televisions at the Nature Link Resort, as the owners’ goal is to help guests disconnect and enjoy nature.

THERESA BOURKE can be reached at [email protected] or 218-855-5860. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/DispatchTheresa.