What’s New at Aikens for 2018
Apr. 30, 2018
“Good enough, never is.”
That was one of Gerry Turenne’s favorite sayings––a mantra he took to heart with all his endeavors, none more so than Aikens Lake Wilderness Lodge. Today, that spirit of continual improvement is alive and well at Aikens.
Each year, we carefully lay plans to improve, renovate and enhance various aspects of the operation to constantly provide guests the best possible Aikens Experience. This year is no exception, and we’re proud to share with our friends and guests the three biggest improvements and new features you’ll notice when you visit Aikens in 2018.
But first, a review of a notable upgrade from last year: adding mattress toppers to both Lost Lake Outpost and GGO, so that now every single accommodation at Aikens can be made to feature a king-sized bed if wanted.
“This helps us accommodate any type of group, be it a family or couples,” Julie says. “Now anywhere in the lodge or the outposts, we have complete flexibility in configuring beds.”
With that introduction, here are our three big upgrades for the year ahead …
1. Renovating Big Guy’s Bait & Tackle Shop
Every angler at Aikens steps foot into the bait and tackle shop, so we’re enhancing it to provide more square footage, a better traffic flow and a pair of new restrooms.
“The bait and tackle shop hasn’t been touched since it was built, so it looks a bit out of date compared to the other buildings,” Julie says. “We’re remodeling the building and the deck, and the main objective is to add more space so guests and guides have more room.”
We’re adding a whole new section onto the backside of the tackle shop that will be the “packhouse” area where our bait and tackle lead, Yvan, pack shore lunches and store additional supplies. The current “packhouse” space will be opened up to become part of the front-end bait and tackle, allowing us to move the fridge and front desk further into the shop, creating more room and reducing congestion near the front door (we’re also adding a side door).
The restrooms are a practical addition, making it convenient for guests wanting to use them before stepping onto the boat, or right after returning to dry land.
A side note: Our plan was to start the renovations this spring prior to guests arriving. Mother Nature had other ideas, however, and with the late spring we will now do construction throughout the season, making sure not to disrupt day-to-day tackle shop operations.
2. Dining Room
Sometimes less is more. You know that big wood beam in the middle of the dining room? Well, it looks fine but we’d love to do without it in the middle of the floor, especially when we want to configure dining tables in unique formations to accommodate varying group sizes.
One problem: It’s a support beam, structurally required to hold up the roof. But, as you know, our head carpenter Grant is something a wizard at Aikens. He has derived a method which allows us to remove the vertical wooden beam, then install a horizontal steel beam across the ceiling instead for support.
Grant will do exactly that in May, so that guests this year can enjoy more space in the dining room. To that end, we are also removing the big TV which literally never gets used, and revamping the “living room” portion of the room a bit to add ambiance and space (the computers with internet connection will remain).
One interesting thing guests can discover this year is how Grant treats the hole in the floor left vacant by the removal of the beam.
“Grant asked me if I had any ideas, and I realized I could think super hard about it for a week, and I know Grant, off the top of his head, would come up with a better idea than me,” Julie says. “He’s so talented and creative. I’m sure the ceiling and floor are going to be absolutely beautiful.”
3. GGO Upgrades
We are very excited to add to last year’s GGO upgrades and complete the private mini-lodge’s overhaul this spring. One improvement is Pit’s idea to add an enclosed mudroom to the entrance of the cabin.
“The idea is to create a mud room before the entrance on the porch, which will make the porch feel bigger and give guests a place to hang their rain gear inside,” Julie says. "If it happens to rain, here’s a handy place to put your boots and let your jackets dry before you come inside.”
Another improvement we’re excited about is some fabulous new lighting we’ll be adding to the interior of GGO, especially above the big, beautiful bar built last year.
Because of the high ceiling, hanging a light from above is a challenge, so Julie and Janelle found the perfect light that can come from the floor of the above loft area and brighten the kitchen area.
“We worked with our favorite lighting guy (from Winnipeg’s “Superlite”) who often helps with our projects. He knows what we look for, he knows we like energy efficient, and we found some great lights,” Julie says. “We also found some really neat under the counter lights. You can’t even see the lights themselves, and they have an awesome effect.”
We’re hopeful all of our improvements for 2018 will have an awesome effect on your experience at Aikens in the year ahead. As always, there will be multiple other “surprise” upgrades made throughout the season, so keep your eyes open while you’re here and ask us if you see something that looks new.
You might have just discovered the newest project that supports our old motto: “Good enough, never is.”