Canoe Bay in Wisconsin

canoe bay view lake wahdoon
••• View of Lake Wahdoon from the deck of a Canoe Bay private cottage. © Canoe Bay.

Canoe Bay by Lisa Davis:

This luxury resort near Chetek, Wisconsin (roughly six hours northwest of Chicago) is a spot where you and someone special can put reality on hold for a few days. Designed by a couple, Canoe Bay is set on three private lakes with 280 lush wooded acres and considers personal whirlpools, fireplaces, and decks to be essential (and standard) amenities. The resort is the Midwest’s only Relais & Chateaux property and offers an astonishing amount of peace and quiet: It doesn’t allow kids or pets, the rooms do not have phones, and your cell will barely receive a signal.

Accommodations at Canoe Bay:

Choose one of Canoe Bay’s private cottages with designs inspired by the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright (lots of wood and stone, decks that overlook the lake, floor-to-ceiling fireplaces, wine cellars and specially designed, bigger-than-king-size beds). The rooms are also eco-friendly, with hardwood flooring from sustainable forests and cabinets from recycled wood. Other lodging options: Lakeside Spa cottages, which come with a sauna, Jacuzzi, bath and two-headed shower; or a guest room in the Inn or the Lodge. Splurge on in-room massages and look forward to breakfast and lunch in bed.

Dining at Canoe Bay:

Canoe Bay’s only restaurant serves organic three-course, prix-fixe menus. Dishes change nightly, so you may be offered herb-crusted Chilean sea bass with chardonnay sauce or grilled New York strip. The restaurant pours 700 different wines but no hard alcohol.

Most of the menu items are either grown in the restaurant’s on-site garden or come from local purveyors. Breakfast and lunch are served in-room with a choice of omelets and baked goods and fruit for breakfast and sandwiches or a cheese plate with homemade cookies for lunch. Beer, wine, and sodas can be ordered.

Romance at Canoe Bay:

The resort does not host weddings, but does offer couples post-wedding bliss with its amenity-rich accommodations, candlelit dinners, including a private dinner for two in the restaurant’s wine cellar, and tree-studded hiking paths for romantic strolls. Do take a walk to the resort’s Mallard Lake, settle into Adirondack chairs, and listen to a symphony of nature sounds, such as birds and leaves rustling in the wind. Canoe Bay romance packages include touches such as flowers in the room, dinner for two with wine, and breakfast in bed.

Nearby Canoe Bay:

You won’t be bored if you venture from your room. Golf enthusiasts can tee off at the award-winning Turtleback golf course with its prairie-style clubhouse located in Rice Lake (a 40 minute drive from Canoe Bay). A little closer is Sioux Creek, a nine-hole golf course running along a river just about 20 minutes from the resort. Fishing for walleye and other game fish in Chetek's chain of lakes is a popular activity, as are cross-country skiing, biking and hiking in Blue Hills Trail roughly 30 minutes from Canoe Bay.

Is Canoe Bay Right for You?:

Canoe Bay is the kind of place people imagine when conjuring their “happy place.” It is adults-only heaven, and if you can handle being away from it all (no kids or pets and no phones in the rooms), then you won’t want to leave.

The resort offers plenty of spots for romance: After dinner, take a canoe out on one of the lakes to gaze at the millions of stars, or get in-room massages by the fireplace. If you feel the need to catch up on email, you’ll find a computer in the resort’s library, along with plenty of books and magazines.

What Could Better at Canoe Bay?:

Getting to Canoe Bay can be tricky and requires a car. To ensure the resort’s privacy and peaceful atmosphere, Canoe Bay only provides directions once a reservation has been made. Driving time is two hours from Minneapolis and six hours from Chicago. Hold onto those directions. Once you leave the major highways, the drive has a lot of twists and turns. Private planes can land at Rice Lake Airport (about 40 minutes from Canoe Bay), where rental cars are available.

Where to Find More Information About Canoe Bay:

Canoe Bay
P.O. Box 28
Chetek, WI 54728
Phone: 800-568-1995

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As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with complimentary accommodation and meals for the purpose of review.