Boyne Highlands in Michigan has been rebranded as The Highlands at Harbor Springs. The new name is meant to reflect its community ties to the lakeside town with its deepwater harbor, as well as clear up any confusion with its sibling resort to the south, Boyne Mountains.
New golf and ski amenities are on the renovation list, adding attention to the resort’s two biggest outdoor sports. There are many upgrades in the transformation plan that stretches into 2030, including new guest rooms and suites, a multi-level European style spa, and new dining outlets designed to unleash the creativity of the extraordinary culinary staff they have just expanded. There is even talk of the possibility of chasing a Michelin star or two, a sought-after designation among chefs and restaurant owners.
“As we carry out our transformational journey, The Highlands will rise once again to become the ‘Grande Dame’ of midwest resorts with a nurtured sense of charm and place, elevated guest services, and four seasons of curated experiences, all with an enduring commitment to protecting our environment,” said Stephen Kircher, President & CEO of Boyne Resorts, and son of the founder Everett Kircher.
While the new plans are laden with modern and luxurious improvements, the desire to transform The Highlands is linked back to those early days when it opened during Christmas week of 1963. It was Northern Michigan’s largest ski area, with the highest vertical drop in the Lower Peninsula and the world’s first triple chairlifts. The property covers 432 acres, 53 runs, terrain parks, eight lifts, and has trails for all levels of ski enthusiasts.
“The investments in the coming decade will surely set The Highlands apart in the Midwest and lure more
widespread visitation to the resort and the region throughout the year,” added Mike Chumbler, the resort’s President and General Manager.
The new plans are meant to tap into that “first and best” strategy with each step aimed at guest experiences, and some of those new pieces began being put in place this year. They include:
- Opening Northern Michigan’s only Trackman Range with a 30 bay design that allows golfers to practice distance control and shot-shaping with swing and ball-flight tracking and analysis.
- Phase 1 of the Main Lodge renovation, with 87 remodeled rooms and suites.
- RFID technology on the slopes. It streamlines the process so guests can purchase lift tickets or season passes online, and reload a card with additional ticket or pass purchases each season.
- New snowmaking equipment, including five-tower guns, a new well, and new tech for The Highlands five terrain parks.
- Makeover of the Donald Ross Memorial’s Hole #1 to accurately recreate the famous #6 hole at the Seminole Golf Club in Florida
Renderings of the new European-inspired multi-level spa and indoor/outdoor pool complex drew a big reaction from a local crowd gathered to get a sneak peek at the plans. The 14,000-square-foot spa design includes thermal baths, saunas–even a Russian Banya-style bathhouse area–as well as salt therapy, massage rooms, body treatments and facials. The overall theme is taking a holistic approach to help guests achieve well-being.
“We are committed to building a new European-inspired spa unlike any other in the country, a place of wellness with a self-guided bathing and relaxation experience. A place for our guests to unwind and feel disconnected through an experiential and holistic experience,” added Chumbler.
The 16,000-square-foot pool complex will offer a view out into the hills. In addition to the indoor-outdoor pool features, it will have three hot tubs, an outdoor yoga pavilion, a cafe’ and a casual restaurant.
Other projects on the list for the Main Lodge include:
- More than 30 additional guest rooms and suites in the North Wing.
- Modernization of the lobby with a larger reception area and bar.
- Larger cafe’ offering on-the-go food and drinks.
- Transforming the arcade into a modern gaming room with a golf simulator, bowling alley and arcade games.
- Current dining room transformed into a cozy yet elegant farm-to-table restaurant.
While the skiers and golfers have had The Highlands on their list for some time, the resort wants to draw in the foodies who like a side of adventure and recreation along with their culinary trips. A handful of new cafes, restaurants and even a speakeasy will be developed in the next several years.
The Highlands at Harbor Springs is home to four challenging championship golf courses which are consistently ranked among the best courses in the country while showcasing the breathtaking beauty of the Northern Michigan countryside. The Heather, a 1966 Robert Trent Jones Sr. design, was chosen by the National Golf Course Owners Association as the “2019 Course of the Year,” with a layout that continues to challenge players in a timeless fashion.
The Arthur Hills Signature golf course takes the game to another level at The Highlands as it stretches out to 7312 yards with a 144/75.4 slope/rating which would test the best of the best any day. With 6 sets of tees, even the lowliest duffer can enjoy the spectacular views and the “Everest Hole,” a 570 yard, par 5 13th that sets at the top of the highest ski slope. This challenging masterpiece is widely recognized as one of the finest in Michigan. With its wide bunker-laden fairways, narrow approaches and fascinating bent grass greens, the stunning beauty provides excellent playability.
The Moor was designed by Michigan golf course designer Bill Newcomb and happens to be the members’ favorite. The course is loaded with doglegs and water coming into play on many of the holes. It isn’t the length of the course that will challenge players but making sure they keep the ball dry and in the short grass.
The course has been designated as an AJGA championship course. Featuring all-new tour bunker sand, the Moor is the most versatile at the Highlands-perfect for a quick nine or 18.
The Donald Ross Memorial is an interesting concept of duplicating some of Ross’s most famous holes including Pinehurst #2, Oak Hill Country Club, Inverness, Oakland Hills and other historical courses into a compilation of 18 masterfully designed holes. A definite bucket list opportunity.
In addition, there is the executive “Cuff-Links” 9 hole course at the base of the Day Lodge for a fun game with family and friends.
No matter what season it is, The Highlands at Harbor Springs has something for everyone. Please visit HighlandsHarborSprings.com for reservations and information.