WRITER | MARYROSE KULCZAK
Lakemore Resort on Arbutus Lake
Dean and Tricia Adams never planned on being resort owners when they moved to Arbutus Lake in 2008. As the founders of Bay Area Contracting and later BAC Design Group, they initially built two homes, one for themselves and one for their parents. When the property adjacent to theirs became available in 2014, the Adams decided to purchase the land and build two additional luxury homes for their visiting families to enjoy. Realizing an untapped opportunity, they decided to offer these homes as rentals, and Lakemore Retreat was created.
“That is where we got our feet wet with managing a vacation rental,” said Tricia Adams, who was juggling her work as a neonatal nurse at the time. “It was a side gig for us, and it was a lot of work.”
When an 11-acre resort directly across the lake went on the market, the Adams began to dream of what could be. “We had always looked across the lake from our house at this old resort that had people visiting all summer long,” Adams said. The property remained on the market for several years with no offers. Finally, the Adams shared their dream with others.
“Obviously, an 11-acre property with multiple homes was not something we could do on our own. So that’s when we recruited our business partners to help us.”
With help from Mitchell Blue, a commercial lender and insurance expert, and Connie Deneweth, then-president of Traverse City State Bank, they purchased the land. They began construction of seven 3,300-square-foot homes on the property. Three of the homes were made available for rent in July 2020, with the additional four homes becoming available in the summer of 2021.
“We came up with the idea to use our skills to build brand new homes with materials that will hold up in a rental.”
During construction, the decision was made to clad each cottage in a uniform white siding but add a distinctive accent color outside that would carry on the theme of the interior. This choice proved to be fortuitous, as the cottages were constructed during the pandemic, and white was one of the few siding colors widely available at the time. Window colors were carefully chosen, with matching doors, shutters, and flower boxes to add to the color story. Inside, cabinetry was custom color matched.
“We had so much fun putting all seven houses together,” said Erica Murdock, lead designer from BAC Design Group. “With each house having relatively the same footprint, the concept was to have each house feature a different color theme and design feel.”
“Being in Northern Michigan, many people find the nautical and cottage style appealing. Lakemore enabled us to show off other styles that you don’t see as often, like modern, southwestern, and classic elegance. Pairing these styles with the nautical and cottage styles allows guests to experience a unique atmosphere at each home.”
Each cottage features four bedrooms, four bathrooms, a lower level with a laundry room and entertaining space. They also include a walkout to a covered patio with outdoor seating and amenities such as grills, firepits, and access to private and semi-private hot tubs.
“With the layouts being the same, we used the different colors and materials to accomplish the unique styles. Colored cabinetry, tile design, wallpaper, and fabrics played a big part in this,” Murdock said. “For example, black is often associated with the farmhouse style. We decided to pair black with terracotta tiles and cowhide prints to showcase the southwest style. Teal and light blue painted cabinets complement light, stained wood cabinets to achieve the lakeside cottage vibe.”
Tricia Adams knew that design choices would have to be considered carefully with these resort cottages. “We built these houses to rent, and you build them differently than if you were to build your own home,” she said.
“I was the ‘homeowner,’ in that I made all the selections. I would take them back to the design team from BAC Design Group and we would collaborate. They would say, ‘Trish, good try. But that’s not going to cut it.’ Together, we would really fine-tune everything.”
With help from Murdock, they considered every material used, every appliance purchased, and every necessity from outlets to built-in phone chargers. Each cottage has two fireplaces, one an electric water vapor unit, and the other a traditional gas unit.
“We chose materials that would hold up to the heavy use rentals can require. All of the floors, except the bedrooms and stairs, are luxury vinyl plank because they can withstand heavy foot traffic and water. The main-floor stairwells and hallways have wall paneling to protect the drywall from damage by suitcases and such. Every bathroom has tile wainscoting and shower panels for easy cleaning and upkeep due to hard water,” Murdock said. “The tile work made each of these homes really come to life.”
Adams takes her role as resort manager very seriously, hoping to provide an exceptional experience for guests while being considerate of her neighbors who may reside on the lake year-round.
“I live on this lake as well. I spend a lot of time interacting with guests before they book to ensure they are a good fit for our lake culture.
“We try to think of everything you would need on vacation. Guests literally show up with their clothes and their groceries, and everything else is there. It’s really enjoyable to meet people who are so wowed by the property. That is definitely the best part.”
Dean and Tricia Adams
Dean and Tricia Adams are both Northern Michigan natives, were high school sweethearts, and attended Grand Valley State University, Dean for engineering, and Tricia for nursing. Dean left college to follow his passion for the building industry, beginning as a framer for a custom home builder and working his way up to project manager. Tricia worked as a neonatal nurse in Munson’s NICU for 15 years and is now the general manager of Lakemore Retreat and Resort. They have three children and enjoy boating, water skiing, downhill skiing, and traveling as a family.
In 2007, Dean and Tricia founded Bay Area Contracting. In 2012, the sister company BAC Design Group was started, and BAC became a full-service design-build firm. In 2014, they formed a plan to create Lakemore Retreat and now rent ten properties under the Lakemore umbrella.