By Glenn Swain
The quaint resort town of Petoskey, the surrounding waters of Little Traverse Bay, and the nearby luxury motorcoach resort Hearthside Grove make the northern tip of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula a popular destination for motorcoach travelers and tour operators.
Craig Rose and his brother, Kirk, bought the 140-acre site four years ago.
“We owned a KOA campground for 20 years,” says Craig Rose. But we really wanted to get into this end of the market.”
Beginning with an existing palette of mature trees they have completed 120 motorcoach to date lots for rent or purchase.
The Rose brothers plan for a total of 300 over the next two years. Rose says each oversized lot with a 20-ft x 70-ft brick pad is large for the motorcoach industry and includes a state-of-the-art hookups, full irrigation and natural gas for outdoor barbecues. The facility features fireplaces, fire pits and a resort-style swimming pool —private swimming pools also are available. Other amenities include a fully-appointed fitness center, wireless Internet and five-star concierge service. The completion of a 12,000 square-foot clubhouse is near, and customers will eventually be able to park their motorcoaches along their personal flowing streams.
Last year Hearthside Grove welcomed luxury motorcoach resort visitors from 43 states and all of the Canadian provinces. Rose says motorcoach travelers from 25 states own at least one of the Hearthside Grove lots. The Rose brothers have employed local contractors partnering with Hearthside Grove to build unique bungalows that owners have turned into offices, elegant bathrooms or other living spaces outside the motorcoach.
“Each lot is unique; none have the same dimension or size,” says Rose. “It’s an organic layout with twists, turns and trees. People pick out the parcel that best suits them then will do a custom design. Sometimes they design something on the outside that relates what’s inside their coach. The outdoor living component is pretty dramatic.”
As most customers are primarily snowbirds, the season runs from April to October, with a few staying on through the winter. Rose says those who do settle in typically end up purchasing. One former lot owner was the National Football League alum and sports commentator, Dan Dierdorf.
The Canadian border and Sault Ste. Marie, MI, is an hour away where many drive from Hearthside Grove to see the enormous Soo Locks and a few of the approximately 10,000 ships that pass through each year.
However, the main attraction for motorcoach owners is Petoskey itself, with its quaint boutique shops and population of just over 6,000. It was recently named one of America’s Top 100 places to retire by the authors of “The 100 Best Small Towns in America.”
“What makes our area unique is all the activities and sites available right outside our gates,” says Rose. “This has been a renowned destination for over 100 years with people coming to enjoy the cool air. Many owners and renters have boats in slips nearby for boating and sailing.”