Under New Management: New KML owner to manage facility

Daily Mining Gazette file photo The Keweenaw Mountain Lodge, which came under new ownership last September, also has a new general manager to replace Harvey Desnick, who retired in December.

COPPER HARBOR — John Mueller, who purchased the Keweenaw Mountain Lodge last September, announced he will assume the position of interim general manager, which started on Jan. 1.

Mueller decided it would better serve the facility, employees and himself as owner if he assumed the position of general manager, working with them on a daily basis to to help solidify the culture Mueller desires for a wilderness resort in Keweenaw County, a news release stated.

This is the first year the KML has been under new ownership since it was constructed in 1934, with Keweenaw Resort having purchased the facility last September from Keweenaw County.

Harvey Desnick had been acting general manager for two years prior to Mueller purchasing the lodge, and he helped the resort control costs and shepherd the ownership change in 2018. Desnick retired from the position in December.

Mueller and the staff are spending the off-season working on various improvements in order to shore up deferred maintenance issues, while making some desired changes.

“We’re doing some amenities upgrades for the cabins, and we’re working on things for the food and beverage operation,” said M. Grace Schmitz, marketing and event coordinator.

Also among the changes and plans is the hope of keeping the facility open year-round, but that is contingent on several factors.

Heating the cabins for winter occupancy is one of those factors, Schmitz said.

“That’s one of the things that we’re working on right now,” she said. “We couldn’t be open this winter, for example. We just need to get sort of an idea of how well the cabins are insulated, what needs to be updated in terms of getting them winterized and keeping them warm. It’s something that we’re still looking at.”

Previous potential purchasers had presented ideas for the KML that many local residents did not support, including one plan to turn the facility into a think tank for alternative energy, or create a wind farm, and other ideas.

“I know that there was a lot of anxiety leading up to the auction,” Schmitz said. “People, particularly in Copper Harbor, were wondering what was going to happen.”

Right now, she said, the staff is working on preparing for the spring opening scheduled for May 9.