Red Cedar Lodge began with a walk-through of an overgrown farm where Tom Winterink used to play as a child. The property had recently come on the market and during a hometown visit, Tom and his wife Lorraine explored the property with a new camera, snapping pictures along the way of the old barn, farmhouse, and log cabin. They wondered: could it be possible to build, market, and develop a business in rural Iowa modeled after the family’s favorite cabin vacations they enjoyed throughout the western United States?
Tom proceeded into a year of market research and developed a business plan. Demolition and construction began the same week they moved to town and within ten months, Red Cedar Lodge was a reality. Red Cedar Lodge offers three beautiful log-sided vacation cabins and provides a getaway destination for families and friends outside of Charles City. The luxury amenities, cleanliness, and peaceful location have proven to be a draw for visitors across the country.
Over the last ten years, Red Cedar lodge has become a highly regarded destination, garnering accolades and awards from tourism organizations and destination guides. In 2015, Red Cedar Lodge was awarded Outstanding Lodging Property by Iowa Tourism, the top award for destinations in the state. A few months ago, Red Cedar Lodge was featured in a national article, “The One Place to Visit in Your State in Winter”. Red Cedar Lodge has succeeded to create a destination business in rural Iowa, attracting guests from all over Iowa, the surrounding states and for folks wanting to return “home” to Iowa with their families.
As they promote Red Cedar Lodge, they also promote North Iowa communities as their very own “resort amenities.” This regional approach to attract guests sparks conversations about Clear Lake, Mason City, Nora Springs, Rockford, Northwood, and Charles City – boosting North Iowa’s other local businesses and creating a positive ripple effect across the entire region. “We believe our local businesses help us to offer the same amenities found in a five-star resort, but our offerings extend into Charles City and across the region. We feature and promote our local restaurants, shops, culture and outdoor recreation”, says Lorraine. “We help our guests to find the type of getaway and amenities they desire.” “We estimate that Red Cedar Lodge guests contribute an estimated $60,000 to our local economy, annually.”
Tom and Lorraine have worked with the NIACC John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center and North Iowa Area SBDC. “We believe these resources can help attract ambitious, talented young people who want to ‘hang their own shingle’ and become entrepreneurs,” says Tom. “The spirit of entrepreneurship in rural Iowa is strong, collaborative, and always growing. The North Iowa Area SBDC helps feed that spirit.”