2014-12-13 / Top News

Mission Point Resort Is Sold

Updated

Dennert O. and Suzanne Ware have purchased the 239-room Mission Point Resort on Mackinac Island from John and Jeanie Shufelt. The Wares, who live in San Antonio and operate under D & S North, also own Silver Birches on the Island.

News of the sale was announced early Tuesday, December 16, by Mission Point Resort’s vice president and managing director, Bradley McCallum, who will continue to manage the 18-acre resort with his core staff.

Under the Wares, the resort will undergo a multi-million dollar upgrade that will include improvements to the guest rooms and a new, larger spa facility and pool complex.

“Our family loves Mackinac and the Great Lakes region,” said Mr. Ware, a Michigan native, in the release. “We look forward to helping this very special property realize its full potential while remaining a time-honored tradition for families to visit year after year.”

In the announcement, Mr. McCallum said, “A new chapter is beginning for Mission Point Resort. This property is a gem in a one-of-a-kind destination and we are greatly looking forward to working with the Ware family to further its success.”

The Shufelts say they feel the same way.

“Denny is a really, really nice guy, a real gentleman,” John Shufelt said of Mr. Ware, “and one of the things I feel good about is what he plans to do to take the hotel to the next level. He knows Mackinac Island and loves Mackinac Island and we really feel good about his plans to take the hotel into the future” and continue to build on its impressive character.

This is the second hospitality property the Wares have invested in on the Island. They purchased the historic Silver Birches lodge several years ago and that property has been undergoing restoration under the direction of the Wares’ daughter, Liz Ware of Chicago.

The Shufelts have owned Mission Point Resort since late 1987, purchasing it from Robert Werra, who called it Mackinac Hotel. The resort’s lobby centerpiece was built as the Great Hall for the summer world conference center of Moral Re-Armament in 1956 and has 40 hand-cut virgin timbers and five huge stone fireplaces. Other parts of the complex date to 1954, and additional features were built later when the property was used for colleges and resorts under various owners, including evangelist Rex Humbard.

“I’ve been at it for 27 years,” Mr. Shufelt told The St. Ignace News, and, while he was hesitant to give it up, “I’m turning 70 in the coming year, and with nobody in the family able to take it over, I felt it was time to sell it.”

Both of his daughters feel a sense of regret about selling the hotel, he said, but neither one of them could take it on. One lives in Portland and the other in New York, and one of them, Lani Shufelt, already has assumed ownership of the couple’s other hotel, The Chanler at Cliff Walk in Newport, Rhode Island, a former mansion with ties to the John Jacob Astor family that John and Jeanie Shufelt renovated and opened as an upscale hotel in 2003.

“I’m now retired,” he announced, but he really isn’t, since he still keeps a hand in the marketing and vision of The Chanler and he and Jeanie still own La Farge Perry House, a bed and breakfast in Newport.

Their condominium at Leslie Court has also been sold, so the Shufelts will split their time now between Newport and Naples, Florida, but look forward to periodic trips back up to Mackinac Island.

They will miss the Mackinac Island environment, the hotel, and all the people who work there, especially the capable core of managers that Bradley McCallum has recruited and trained.

Of Mr. McCallum, he can’t say enough.

“He not only integrated himself into the community, he also did a great job in running the hotel and surrounding himself with very good people and making very good decisions,” Mr. Shufelt said. “He has a lot of good common sense. His ability to use his common sense as well as his intelligence is remarkable.”

Getting a good general manager is his advice to anyone in the business.

“I never ran Mission Point,” Mr. Shufelt said. “I always had a manager. I have had some bumps and grinds along the way, but I found a really good manager in Bradley McCallum.”

In almost three decades at Mission Point Resort, Mr. Shufelt said his proudest accomplishments have been improvements to the buildings and grounds. At the time he bought it, there were no sidewalks, trees, or streetlights outside, and the imposing façade reminded him more of a fortress than a hospitable resort. On the inside, previous owners had compromised or hidden the exquisite craftsmanship and detail of the original buildings.

“So one of the things I got a kick out of was changing the look of the hotel, inside and out.”

He brought back the original magnificence of the woodwork and design and remodeled the rooms with quality carpeting and fixtures. Outside, he removed the imposing library building from the shorefront which obstructed the view of the water, and replaced it with Adirondack chairs and gardens to give the grounds a more Victorian resort look.

Another memorable accomplishment, he said, “was making Mission Point Resort into a really great resort with a fantastic reputation.”

Marketing was directed to families in the summer, groups and conventions during the spring and fall, and couples and weddings on weekends during the shoulder seasons and all summer long.

All of this can be built on by the new owners.

Another legacy of the Shufelts is a gift they left with the Mackinac Island Community Foundation years ago when they established the Erin Lynne Shufelt Environmental Fund in memory of a deceased daughter, and a foundation emergency fund used by community churches to help residents in urgent need of assistance. 

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