For the past three years, July in Minnesota has brought violent storms, and Grand View Lodge can tell you exactly how many trees that has cost the Nisswa resort.
"Three years ago we ended up losing around 1,000 trees in a storm all across our main property and golf courses," said Frank Soukup, director of marketing for Cote Family Destinations. "We had a tremendous amount of damage there. The trees actually broke in half. The storm last year was different. We had torrential rains and then a hail storm. Then sheer winds came through and knocked over the trees by the roots."
This past July, Soukup said the resort lost another 150 trees, and while he said all of this only accounts for about 2 percent of the resort's trees, the 2016 storm probably caused the worst damage so far.
"We had a lot more damages with that storm, including our deck patio," Soukup said. "It was built between two very large white pines and it was a flurry to get it cleaned up. We had weddings that were happening days later. We managed to get it cleaned up."
"It was pretty shocking to come here after the storm and see the deck in a pile at the bottom of the hill," said Mark Ronnei, Grand View Lodge general manager. "That was on a Thursday, and Saturday we had two weddings that had to take place on the path next to it. We got it all taken care of."
Grand View immediately went to work to clean up the problem. With help from partner vendors, the debris from the deck was cleaned up and hauled away and the grounds team planted the hillside under the deck with perennials and mulch in about 30 hours.
"By Saturday, when the wedding showed up, it looked like nothing had ever happened," Ronnei said. "It looked like there was never a deck there at all."
Of course, Grand View couldn't just go forward without a deck, so they started working on a replacement as quickly as possible.
"We got an idea together and started construction in November of last year before the ground froze and then completed the project just before Memorial Day," Soukup said.
Stonework, landscaping and construction continued until Grand View's patio was complete. It wasn't just a patio, however, it was a new dining venue called On the Rocks.
"It's two-tiered," Soukup said. "We can have guests eating dinner at the top with a group of wedding guests enjoying a reception down below. Then it has its own bar as well. It becomes our eighth dining venue."
On the Rocks has room for 20 more guests beyond the capacity of the old deck. It also adds an entirely new lower level worthy of seating with two waterfalls with mood lighting and three outdoor fireplaces. The venue helped to increase Grand View's outdoor dining.
"Now, we took the opportunity to capitalize on outdoor dining," Ronnei said. "Outdoor dining is where it's at. If you go to Minneapolis, everyone and their brother has an outdoor patio or a sidewalk cafe or some outdoor element to the restaurant. Up north here we wanted to capitalize on that. We've always had some outdoor dining, but this tripled the amount we have of quality. Guests have responded very well."
Ronnei said the wooden deck was constructed 39 years ago. The decision to build a stone deck, in part, was inspired by the sturdiness, longevity and lack of maintenance on a stone structure versus another wooden structure.
"We talked about it. We knew we probably wanted to switch from a deck to something more part of landscaping that was built-in," Ronnei said. "Joe (Hall of Copper Creek Landscaping) came out right away and sketched something up and came up with something that will last more than 40 years."