MRCA names 2018 honorees

MINNESOTA — The Minnesota Resort & Campground Association (MRCA) is pleased to announce its 2018 honorees:

  • Minnesota Hospitality Hall of Fame – Mark Ronnei from Grand View Lodge, Nisswa
  • 2018 Operator of the Year – Bryan & Sue Harris from Eagle Nest Lodge, Deer River

The awards were presented during the MRCA Fall Conference in late October at Superior Shores Resort in Two Harbors.

Minnesota Hospitality Hall of Fame
The Minnesota Hospitality Hall of Fame recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions to the development of Minnesota’s resort and campground industry and are deemed “legends” by their peers. The award honors lifetime achievement and exemplary leadership in the industry.

Mark Ronnei – Grand View Lodge, Nisswa
Mark Ronnei is the longtime general manager of Grand View Lodge. Ronnei earned a degree in hospitality management from Southwest Minnesota State University and was hired by Grand View in 1978 as a night auditor. At the time, there were only 70 employees; today, there are more than 800. Over the years, Ronnei served as convention services manager, director of sales, general manager and CEO. He has worked with 10,000 employees over his time at Grand View.

Under his leadership, the resort added conference centers, golf courses, a spa, a restaurant and wine bar, as well as the majority of cabins off the main property. He recently took on another challenge: overseeing construction of a new 60-room boutique hotel, a recreation center, a chapel and two new real estate developments.

Ronnei founded the Enhanced Reading Foundation to bring books to every classroom at the local elementary school. He serves on numerous committees and boards in his community including the Brainerd Community Foundation, Bridges of Hope, the Minnesota Chamber and Essentia Health. Past affiliations have included the Brainerd Area Schools Budget Committee, Minnesota Tourism Council, Central Lakes College President’s Advisory Committee and other organizations.

He was MRCA’s Operator of the Year in 2006 and was awarded Outstanding Individual in Tourism by Explore Minnesota Tourismin 2015. In his acceptance speech, Ronnei emphasized the importance of hosting families for their vacations and getaways and helping to create lasting memories.

MRCA Operators of the Year
MRCA’s Operator of the Year award recognizes leadership and excellence in areas such as management ability, active participation in tourism-related local/state organizations, community leadership and other criteria.

Bryan & Sue Harris – Eagle Nest Lodge, Deer River
Bryan and Sue both grew up in Detroit Lakes and attended Concordia College in Moorhead. They began dating not long after they started working together at Fair Hills Resort. Sue earned a teaching degree and Bryan was a plumber, but they decided to pursue the hospitality industry. They became managers of a hotel in Grand Marais. After a year, they realized resorting was what they really wanted to do. They fell in love with Eagle Nest Lodge on Lake Cut Foot Sioux, purchasing it in 1994.

Eagle Nest Lodge was established in 1924 and has had multiple owners. The resort now boasts 14 log cabins, many of which have been remodeled or built in the Harris’ 24 years as owners. Bryan and Sue also own Eagle Nest Log Homes, which provides the milled logs for new cabins. The couple incorporates many small touches for their guests, from a weekly ice cream social to writing “good morning” notes on birch bark tied to the Sunday paper. They host weddings, receptions, graduation parties, retreats and family reunions.

One of their guests says, “Every summer our family makes the six-hour trek to the peace and beauty of the Chippewa National Forest in northern Minnesota. We know that Bryan and Sue have tirelessly prepared the cabins for us, making improvements each year…. Bryan and Sue take time to talk, and mostly listen, to those of us who get to share their resort. With the evening activities they plan, we know we may hear the sound of live Jazz, win prizes playing Bingo, or hear the yearly rendition of “The Wide-mouthed Frog.” … Bryan and Sue are genuine family-oriented people who help families like ours create memories. “

Both Sue and Bryan are active in their communities and church. Bryan has served on the board of directors for the Minnesota Resort & Campground Association for many years and was president in 2014.

SOURCE: Minnesoa Resort & Campground Association press release

Ronnie Wendt

Ronnie Wendt

Ronnie Wendt has been a writer/editor for more than 25 years, working in law enforcement, aviation, supply chain and the RV industry. She's not a stranger to RVs, however. She grew up camping, and still camps as many weekends as she can every year. She is the owner of In Good Company Communications and can be reached at ingoodcompanycommunications@gmail.com.

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