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Resort races to prepare for tourists

The Aarsvolds prefer to stay true to the old time, lake cabin feel that the Geneva Beach Resort was founded on, but they enjoy making small, modern upgrades similar to the ones made to the cottage annex that was built in 1948. 1 / 2
Tim and Carolyn Aarsvold have been prepping the Geneva Beach Resort in Alexandria for tourist season for the past 19 years. By renting to college students during the off season, the couple is left with only a week and a half to prepare for the arrival of the summer tourists. (Annie Harman/Echo Press)2 / 2

In the belly of Douglas County’s rich resort culture, Tim and Carolyn Aarsvold have merely a week and a half to prepare for tourist season.

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Owners of the Geneva Beach Resort in Alexandria for the past 19 years, the Aarsvolds said goodbye on May 14 to the college students who resided in their cabins throughout the school year. Then the race began to ensure the resort was in tip-top condition for the rush of people arriving for Memorial Day weekend.

Carolyn, a retired teacher, was responsible for the inside of the buildings, attending to the cleaning and laundry.

“Each year I try to do something new,” she said.

“This year I got designer quilts for all the beds.”

As for Tim, an overall jack-of-all-trades, he does a lot of maintenance prep-work, such as spraying the building for spiders. “There’s not a lot of outside cleaning that needs to be done,” he said with relief, as he took a gander at the property. “If there were more trees there might be.”

The beach has a variety of tasks that need to be completed, such as cleaning, raking and getting the water toys out of storage. Getting the docks in, though, is a chore all in its own, requiring Tim to hire seven to eight guys.

“You have to wait for the weather to cooperate,” he said. “This year we were fortunate with the ice.”

While good weather is the key to quick, successful preparation, the rainy days the area experienced didn’t hold the resort owners back.

“We just work through the rain,” Carolyn laughed. “Or we just work on stuff inside.”

May 17 and 18 was the big weekend to power through the work that needed to be done to be summer-ready. Every year, the Aarsvolds bring in about 20 people the weekend before the Memorial holiday to complete as many tasks as possible.

Carolyn had cleaners of all ages this year, a few who have helped in the past, to do work on the inside of the buildings. They do it all, down to counting every last fork in each cabin.

“It’s a lot of people to supervise,” Carolyn said. “It makes for two really long days.”

Tim usually snags around five people to help with the maintenance and yard work, saying that it’s all about the planning ahead and making sure nothing has to be done twice.

“It seems like every year as we’re going along something breaks,” Tim chuckled.

“They are the most calm people I know,” commented Mary Oorlog, the resort’s neighbor, on the Aarvolds’ rush to be ready for the season. “I don’t know how they do it, but they get it done.”

The Aarsvolds agreed that the resort is always being upgraded. Whether it’s carpet, flooring, beds or appliances, each year a couple cabins get a little renovation work done. At this point, though, any expansion to the property will be staying sedentary and the couple will focus on keeping up with the place.

Though it may seem that there is a lot of competition in the area between all the resorts, the Aarsvolds say they don’t feel the competition between the resort owners.

“Everyone is very interested in sharing ideas,” Tim said. “People who have been in the resort business for 20 to 30 years are very helpful and willing to give tips.”

Carolyn agreed, stating that the resort atmosphere in Douglas County is nothing but friendly and supportive.

Annie Harman
Annie Harman is a reporter for Echo Press and The Osakis Review. She grew up in Detroit Lakes and graduated from the University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire with a degree in print journalism and history in May 2012. Follow her on Twitter at annieharman
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