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Meeting Facilities
Frog Creek Lodge provides rustic getaway for events

Frog Creek Lodge GazeboThe Key Peninsula’s rustic and pristine beauty has made the area a popular getaway for summer residents and visitors. And organizations or companies searching for a privat, relaxed setting for retreats or other get-togethers can use the Key as a backdrop as well — thanks to Frog Creek Lodge.

The 10-acre property, which includes a trail and a pond, has hosted everything from weddings and birthday bashes to yoga retreats and state agency meetings. Groups rent out the entire nine-bedroom lodge for a couple of days or more and set up their activities any way that suits them. A kitchen equipped with a complete set of appliances and tableware can be used for preparing and serving meals, and guests can make full use of onsite extras such as a piano and two guitars, an extensive book library, an outdoor hot tub and a fire pit. WiFi as well as folding tables and chairs are available.

“They come to get away — it’s quiet and peaceful here,” said Mike Ouellette, a former general contractor who’s owned the lodge for three years with his partner, Mike Peterson.

Ouellette, who had a construction business for about 30 years in the Renton area, was looking for something to do before “retirement.” Running a lodge was farthest from his mind but after visiting friends in the area, the couple decided the Key Peninsula would be a nice place to transition from city life — and Peterson’s home-based job made the move easy.

The previous owner rented out the property for events and when she decided to sell, Ouellette saw his pre-retirement opportunity. The couple made the yurt (which previously was available for booking) their home, and proceeded to add their own touches to the log cabin home and the grounds — renovating the building in between events.

Ouellette added various walls to create more bedroom spaces, changed out some of the furniture and décor to suit his taste, remodeled the kitchen and the entryway and swapped the wall-to-wall carpet for hardwood flooring, among other things. His shopping outlet of choice is craiglist.org, where he found everything from the rocking chairs in the sitting area (the chairs were purchased separately but match) to the antique piano.

“I tried to make it more group-friendly,” he said.

Although Peterson works full-time, he helps out with the business, both with ideas and hands-on work.

“Mike has a lot of ideas but I know how to implement them,” Ouellette said.

They built a trail, which Ouellette walks every day with their dog, and added a pond in a swampy area. The pond, fed naturally by a spring all year long, is populated by frogs and visited by deer and other creatures. Ouellette decorated it with giant rocks he found on craigslist for free and hauled to Lakebay. The pond had been a longtime dream of the original owner, Suzanne Dirks, and earlier this summer the two current owners hosted a big party to dedicate it to her.

The most recent addition to the property is a ceremonial labyrinth with a gazebo, created specifically for weddings. Ouellette expanded the existing labyrinth, planted white paper birches around the perimeter and added the lighted gazebo for couples to tie the knot. All the artifacts from the old labyrinth — from golf balls to inspirational signs — now decorate the tree rounds that encircle the labyrinth.

Ouellette was still putting on the finishing touches in mid-July but already had four weddings booked for September.

“We wanted to try something different. Every couple that’s come up here to view it has booked it,” he said, adding that he was also getting ready for a Buddhist conference that was expected to attract visitors from around the world.

As many as 30 people can sleep in the lodge comfortably — or up to 35 cozily — and the grounds have accommodated as many as 160 people for events with themes ranging from formal dining to barbecue.

Although most of the marketing is done through word of mouth and repeat customers, business is growing. Ouellette said that out of 52 weekends this year, so far 38 have been booked. Some groups come several times a year while others make Frog Creek Lodge (frogcreeklodge.com) an annual affair.

The lodge remains a work in progress, with a few outdoor projects still in the plan. One of them is to give a complete facelift to the exterior of the log wall — which hasn’t been touched since the home was built more than 35 years ago.

Ouellette acknowledges that being in the hospitality industry doesn’t have much in common with construction, but he has found his new “career” rewarding.

“I meet a lot of sweet, sweet people. I have a good time,” he said. “I’d rather do this than drive to work every day.”

 
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