If you're planning a group event, such as a family reunion, hunting party, or even a scrapbooking party, why not rent a large private lodge? Get a tour, along with Dan Kaercher, of the Hole 'N the Wall Lodge in Akron.
Hosted by Dan Kaercher, Iowa's Simple Pleasures features Iowa travel destinations, restaurants, events, parks, recreation and more. Produced by Iowa Public Television, the series highlights fun things for Iowans to do, see and taste, right here at home.
Kaercher: Large family gatherings often take place at community centers, parks, and hotels, but why not at a large private lodge in Northwest Iowa's Plymouth County. For city dwellers like me, it's always nice to get away to the country for some peace and quiet, or hunting and fishing if that's more your thing. But many of us do like our creature comforts. I found it all here at the hole in the wall lodge north of Sioux City near Akron. The lodge was built new but to give it a rustic, comfortable feel, the creators used an 1890s notch-and-peg framework taken from an old barn. The barn door even adorns one of the walls. This lodge was built originally as a place for hunting parties, where close by the lodge owners planted more than one thousand acres of prairie for pheasant habitat. But pheasant hunting season is, well, seasonal. The rest of the year, the three-level, ten-bedroom main lodge which, by the way, is handicap accessible, and the adjacent guest house would sit idle. So in 2006 the lodge was open for other large groups wanting a distinctive place to meet. I emphasize the word large because the lodge doesn't maintain a full-time staff or services to operate as a nightly in. Joe Cain the only full-time employee, is the general manager.
Cain: We are not a motel/hotel. This is a special event facility. So what I tell couples is I don't like to tell anybody no, but I says if you can get maybe ten couples together, you know, whether we do a church group thing, we do a maybe business retreat or even, you know, anniversary party, a company party, any kind of thing. But we have to have more of a group setting.
Kaercher: I understand that some family reunions have been held here, as well as weddings. But for family reunions, this looks like ideal.
Cain: It is. See, part of the whole thing and myself and the staff let people know is that you come here, it is your place for that weekend, three days, four days, to do your own cooking. I have a fabulous kitchen in there. Pretty much you bring your food, you do what you want to do. The kids love it. I have a full game room downstairs. The lodge itself here, the main lodge has ten rooms, the west wing has four, five counting the bunk beds. As far as what we can sleep here, the most that we've had here at any one time is a family reunion, and we're looking right at 60 plus people.
Kaercher: Family gatherings are a growing part of the clientele here. The facility can also cater to some business needs with, for example, a projector hidden in a support beam. And there's internet access. But the lodge, of course, still caters to hunters. Bill, tell me what amenities do you offer hunters here?
Cain: Well, what we have is -- first of all, our amenities would be included. I like to do an all-inclusive package. So what that means is you show up and I'll take care of you. That includes the lodging, food, three meals a day plus the hors d'oeuvres, beverages of any type. Also, we have kennels for their dogs here. We have a bird cleaning facility out there.
Kaercher: It is not stocked bird hunting but wild game.
Cain: That's correct. There is not -- has not been a released bird here set on this ground from day one. I take care of the grounds. We plant food plots every year. But we do have a lot of habitat specifically for that wild pheasant.
Kaercher: Well, it wasn't hunting season during my visit, but I could try my hand at fishing. The hole in the wall lodge doesn't have its own fishing pond, but leases the fishing rights to a private lake owned by the Mayor of Akron, Harold Higman, Jr. Lodge guests are offered the opportunity to fish from a boat, but on this day I stayed on shore with the mayor. Good one, Harold. Hey, tell me a little bit about the lake here. What size is it?
Higman: The lake, Dan, is a little over a half mile wide and it's approximately one mile long. It's boot shaped. It was started back in the early '50s by my father as a gravel company. Dad always was kind of a conservationist, so he made sure there was plenty of fish stocked every year. Every year he'd buy a number of fish and stock it.
Kaercher: What kind of fish?
Higman: We put catfish in, bass, walleye, crappie.
Kaercher: So what's the biggest fish you've caught here?
Higman: Oh, my word. I think a 12-pound catfish, 4-pound bass, some walleye measuring 26, 27 inches.
Kaercher: Hey, look what I caught! Look!.
Higman: Yeah, you've got a big green one there.
Kaercher: That's a green leaf fish, isn't it?
Higman: There you go. It would make a good salad, Dan, a good salad.
Kaercher: Well, I may not have caught any fish today, but I was outdoors on a nice day so I can't complain. After a day of fishing and trying to scare up some pheasant, I'm tired. It's nice to know I don't have to get in a car and drive all the way home. I can stay in this beautiful countryside and simply return to the lodge for a little rest. And I've got the perfect book, "How To Be Idle."