Burt Brooks of Seattle celebrated his 85th birthday in late July at Yellow Point Lodge, a tranquil spot he has been visiting for the past 60 years.
And Brooks isn’t the only one celebrating, as Yellow Point Lodge marks its 75th year in business in 2014.
Yellow Point Lodge was founded in the mid-1930s by M.G. (Gerry) Hill. He started the lodge with seven tiny cabins and a small cookhouse and dining room on the north end of the property. The cookhouse is still there, and the original cabins were floated around to the location of the “new”’ lodge in 1939 and are still in use today.
The original main lodge building opened in 1939. It was a 12,000-square-foot log cabin with nine guest rooms, a kitchen and dining room and a big living room or common area.
A fire burned the original lodge down in October 1985, but with the help of family, an excellent crew of existing staff and builders and the Friends of Yellow Point Society, the new lodge was up and running by the fall of 1986. Loyal guests were in residence during the construction, as a temporary dining room was set up in a big tent and the sitting room of the new lodge was the first thing completed. Most regular guests never missed a summer.
Brooks is one of those regular guests. He has been coming to Yellow Point Lodge every summer since 1964, and he was even there the day M.G. Hill’s son, Richard, who is now the owner, was born.
Brooks was 25 when he came to Yellow Point Lodge for the first time.
“It was kind of lucky,” he recalled. “Friends were talking about Yellow Point, and it was a lot different then. It was a singles’ place, and the average age was 20. When I came here for the first time and saw the relaxing place, I said ‘this is it.’ I saw the boats going by, and I decided I have to buy a boat. I did, and the next year, I came by boat. Most years, I come by boat.”
Brooks recalls that when he first came to Yellow Point Lodge, waterskiing was the big sport.
“People would line up on the dock and take their turn waterskiing,” he said. “I moved on and when they invented windsurfing, I bought my windsurfing board and did windsurfing here. I’ve always played tennis.”
Brooks recalls that when he first came to Yellow Point Lodge, the tennis courts were in bad shape, and after the fire, he told Richard that he and his son would help rebuild tennis courts for him.
Standup paddle boarding became popular two years ago, and Brooks does a bit of that, although he laughs and says it’s more kneeling than standing because his balance isn’t as good as it once was.
Brooks likes to walk and bike a lot around the property.
“There are miles and miles of trails; there’s a lot of walking to do,” he said. “Biking around here is wonderful because you can go on quiet trails.”
Brooks also enjoys swimming in the lodge’s 180-foot saltwater pool.
“You can’t beat a setting like this,” he says, looking out at the ocean on a bright, sunny day. “There’s no resort like Yellow Point in the world. In a way, it’s like an adult scout camp, and in a way, it’s like a luxury resort.”
For years, Brooks stayed in what is known as the Barracks right on the water. The next step up is a beach cabin, and Brooks always wanted a beach cabin, one of the original cabins. After 15 years, he got into a beach cabin for one week and stayed in the Barracks for one week. Finally, he got into a beach cabin for two weeks.
“I get to look out at night and see all the buoy lights and the tug boats,” said Brooks. “Where could you find that anywhere else?”
Richard says that, like anything, you go one year to the next, and then all of a sudden, 75 years sneaks up on you.
He is proud of the Lodge’s history and longevity, and he believes the Lodge’s homey and casual atmosphere is a big draw for the people who come back year after year.
“There’s the property and the setting, that’s one thing, but I think also it’s the way we run it the same way year after year,” he said. “Knowing your meals are included in the price, I think people can relax more.”
Richard says it’s great to see so many guests making a visit to the Yellow Point Lodge a tradition.
“That’s the rewarding part, when you see the attachment some people get to the place that they’ll come back year after year,” he said. “And the fact that you have some small part of making them feel at home, that’s rewarding.”
And when guests come for 60 years straight, it’s particularly amazing.
“Burt’s been a big part of the place for many years,” said Richard. “He’s been part of the fabric of the place. One of the satisfying things is seeing happy people, and one of the ways you think you’re doing OK is seeing them come back, and if they come back as much as Burt, that’s wonderful.”
Yellow Point Lodge is celebrating its 75th anniversary in small ways throughout the year, and its actual anniversary date is Dec. 24, as Christmas Eve 1939 was the night that Lesley Durban lit the first fire in the fireplace in the lounge.