Schoolhouse Escape: Oregon's Suttle Lodge
Those in search of some old-fashioned R&R need look no farther than Dechutes National Forest in Central Oregon. Nestled in the mountains and out of cell range, you'll find the newly-renovated Suttle Lodge - a year-round resort and rustic getaway that serves up local coffee, fancy cocktails and delectable food in a stylish, vintage camp setting. The 15 arce property, complete with lakeside and camping cabins, a main lodge and Boathouse restaurant owes its new look to The Mighty Union, the hospitality group launched by a few of the creatives behind Portland's own Ace Hotel.
With their trademark nostalgic minimalist aesthetic, Suttle Lodge has been given new life as a destination for relaxation and adventure. We chatted with the crew at The Mighty Union about opening a hotel in the woods, why they lit their lodge with Schoolhouse fixtures and what to do when you don't have wi-fi.
Tell us about the opening of Suttle Lodge – What was the inspiration behind the concept and how did you bring it to life?
“We wanted it feel like you were spending the weekend at your rich, stoner-uncle's lakeside bachelor pad. There were a lot of cocktails and coffee imbibed while we were working on this…”
Was there a very specific design vision from the beginning or was the process more organic?
“Though we have a pretty strong point of view, we don’t generally walk in to a project with too many pre-conceived design notions. We are responding to the conditions of a place. There is a lot of dialogue – with each other and with the place. Certain choices just begin to emerge from that dialogue. We made most of the big moves very quickly – the layout, the riff on bean bag chairs, the deep blue walls to cut the glare off the lake. Then you have to dig down into the details, where a lot of interesting things will emerge. I guess that constitutes an organic process, but it is not without intention or discernment, just not projection.”
What are some of your favorite design elements and amenities at Suttle Lodge?
“Jen Turner’s pipe shelving that frames the big table in the lobby. She designed it with Jordan Hufnagel, a bicycle builder, who made it. The big canvas mural by Land sets the tone for everything else that follows. The crazy carved doors by J. Chester “Skip” Armstrong. They were here before we got here. Big pouf chairs in front of the fire with a cocktail and a s'more.”
What kind of experience do you hope people who visit have? What makes Suttle Lodge a unique and worthy destination?
“People tell us that when they get to the Lodge, they immediately relax. Sun or snow, they feel instantly at home and cozy. We often see total strangers talking and laughing like they’ve known each other forever. Cozy and convivial. That was what we were going for, and that’s what makes it worth it.”
Tell us about the Schoolhouse pieces you have at the lodge! What drew you to those styles in particular?
“We like to use vintage light fixtures, but that is difficult when you need quantity. Schoolhouse offers classic, handsome choices that almost feel vintage. The globe lights in the lobby are pretty critical. They provide soft light and float kind of cloud-like beneath the massive timber beams. The Eduard sconces are simple and unpretentious and dress up the halls. The U/2 Sconce is just a great mirror light.”
What are some of the top recommendations you would give people who are spending a few days at the lodge?
“First, just relax! There’s no cell service in the lodge and very little WiFi, so this encourages old fashioned pastimes like reading, playing board games, talking and just sitting by the fire with a good cocktail. Walk the three-mile trail around Suttle Lake – it’s a peaceful, easy hike that clears your mind and treats you to beautiful views and frequent bald eagle sightings! Browse the shops in the nearby town of Sisters, like Paulina Springs Books, and grab and ice cream cone at the Sno Cap Drive In. For those who like more adventure, Central Oregon has no shortage of mountains to climb or natural hot springs to explore, all within about an hour’s drive of the lodge.”