Awhile back Nana and I kicked around visiting Frankenmuth, Michigan instead of our annual Amish Country visit in the fall. I did some research and we decided to stay at the Bavarian Inn Lodge. Oh my! Best decision ever. From the moment you arrive at Frankenmuth, you take a step back into time– and the Bavarian Inn Lodge and Bavarian Inn Restaurant are no exception.
Note: The Bavarian Inn Lodge and Bavarian Inn Restaurant provided a reduced room rate and two free-family style chicken dinners in exchange for this unbiased review.
When you arrive at the Bavarian Inn Lodge, via a wooden covered bridge, a old-world feeling floods your senses. From the first step into the lobby, until the day we left– all the employees were genuinely friendly and helpful. Even the housekeeping and groundskeepers would greet us and tell us to have a wonderful day. It was very refreshing and comforting to know that they really cared about our stay and wanted to do everything in their power to make it pleasant.
A little bit of history: Frankenmuth was founded in 1845 by 15 newly-American individuals. Franken was the province where these settlers came from in Bavaria and Muth was their word for courage. A second wave of colonists arrived in Frankenmuth, and among those were the great-grandparents of William “Tiny” Zehnder Jr. One of the layovers in town was built in 1888 by Theodore Fischer and eventually became known as the “Fischer House.” In February 1950, the current owner, Elmer Fischer, sold the hotel to the William Zehnder Sr. family. William Sr.’s son, Tiny, took a break from farming and with the help of his wife, Dorothy, began to run the Fischer House. In 1958, Dorothy and Tiny took out a loan with the local bank and began the first of many expansions and renamed the Fischer House to the Frankenmuth Bavarian Inn. In the 1980’s Judy Zehnder Keller launched the idea of a Bavarian Inn Lodge. The first phase opened in 1986 with 100 rooms and has since grown to 360 rooms, 35,000 square-foot family fun center – including video games, miniature golf, pools, whirlpools and water slides, conference center, shops and restaurants.
Only in a small town can you do this.
~William “Tiny” Zehnder
Part of the charm of visiting Frankenmuth is the shopping. Most of the shops are within walking distance of the Bavarian Inn Lodge, you can grab a horse-drawn carriage, or drive your car. But, the best part is returning “home” to your room at the Bavarian Inn Lodge. The decor is very soothing and relaxing, and the beds are honestly amazing! Each bed offers both soft and firm pillows, so you can mix/match to your liking.
A cool feature of the rooms is the family histories. Each room has a name plaque on the door featuring the name of a German settler. Inside the room, you will find a written history of the family, the family name crest, and even pictures of the family. Very awesome! On the television, there is even several short videos describing the history of the Bavarian Inn Restaurant and Bavarian Inn Lodge, and information about other features in the area.
Our Guest Room
The outside view of the two water slides in one of the pool areas.
The whirlpool in the pool area behind the mini-golf and entertainment center.
One of the smaller pools located in the area behind the mini-golf. This one features an awesome mural with a waterfall into the pool.
The kids’ response to this pool and waterfall was, “Holy marshmallow.”
That pretty much sums it up.
One of the entrances with its own tower. Beautiful.
The Bavarian Inn Lodge at night. A welcome site.
Within walking distance of the Bavarian Inn Lodge is the Bavarian Inn Restaurant where we were treated to a family-style chicken dinner. Oh my. Go hungry. Very hungry. I seriously thought I was going to have to be put in a cart and wheeled out of there! The chicken dinner is served family-style. Dishes mounded with the fixin’s and a delicious platter of chicken. The dining rooms are beautiful– murals are painted on the walls depicting fairy tales. The servers and hosts/hostesses dress in period clothing and serve with a friendly smile. And, you might catch a glimpse of the Zehnder matriarch, 91 year old Dorothy, who comes in to the kitchen almost every day! And, definitely try the Stollen!
After you eat, head downstairs to the shops and take a stroll down the front of the Bavarian Inn Restaurant along Main Street. Its breathtakingly beautiful.
This business shall continue forever.
~William “Tiny” Zehnder
Being a family-owned and family-run business is difficult in our economy, or any economy. However, the Bavarian Inn Restaurant is celebrating its 125th year and is operated by 10 family members from three generations!
While you are at the Bavarian Inn Lodge and Bavarian Inn Restaurant, make sure you check out the covered bridge that spans the Cass River. According to the story, or legend if you will, the bridge was built on the banks of the river and was moved into place in January 1980 by a capstan. The capstan was reportedly turned by almost everyone in town. At the last crank, the capstan froze in place and wouldn’t move. But a local pastor began the benediction and the bridge broke free and moved into place. The entire town proclaimed it a miracle and was treated to a chicken dinner!
Family is everything.
~William “Tiny” Zehnder
Family is everything. This is very obvious while visiting the Frankenmuth Bavarian Inn Lodge and Bavarian Inn Restaurant. You immediately feel like part of the Zehnder family when you walk in the door. And, when you leave… there is a touch of homesickness until you can return again.
The Bavarian Inn Lodge and the Bavarian Inn Restaurant provided a discounted room rate and a complimentary family-style chicken dinner to facilitate this review. However, all opinions are my own and should be considered unbiased and honest. No other affiliation is in existence between the Bavarian Inn Lodge and Bavarian Inn Restaurant and this blog.