Since 1945, Heidel House Resort & Spa has been a destination for travelers seeking fun and respite in Green Lake.

   But travelers won’t have another opportunity to play along Green Lake’s shores this summer at the Heidel House.

   Today (Friday), its owners announced that it will cease operations May 20, though Fiore continues to seek a buyer for the property that’s been for sale for some time.

   Stacy Nemeth, chief operating officer for Fiore Companies — which owns the Heidel House — made the announcement via press release.

   She noted that the allure of the Wisconsin Dells, just 50 miles away, has tarnished the shine of Green Lake as a resort destination.

   “The Fiore Companies have owned the Heidel House Resort for 35 years. We have been very committed to this property, its employees and to the Green Lake area, which is why we are saddened to make this announcement,” she said. “Unfortunately, during the last decade, we have sustained financial losses, and operation of the resort in its current configuration is no longer a sustainable business model.”

   Nemeth, though, noted that Fiore has taken steps to bring travelers back to Green Lake at the Heidel House amid “changing travel patterns and demographics in the hospitality industry,” the release noted.

   Such steps include, per the release, construction of Evensong Spa — recently rated No. 2 in Wisconsin and among the top spas in the United States — and hiring Marcus Corp. to manage the property in 2014.

   Nevertheless, “despite these efforts, the current operational model is not a viable enterprise,” the release explained.

   “Times have changed, particularly in the hospitality industry, and the resorts of yesteryear aren’t necessarily the resorts that are capturing the interest of a new generation of travelers,” Nemeth said. “Frankly, the Wisconsin Dells, which is only 50 miles away, has seen an extended period of growth and continues to be a tourism behemoth that is difficult to compete against.”

   For now, Fiore will continue to seek a buyer for the Heidel House.

   But the company is not against finding a new use for the property.

   According to the release, “Nemeth indicated that if no buyer for the resort steps forward, Fiore Companies will pursue other development options, and will continue to work with the city of Green Lake as we explore opportunities.”

   “Whatever decision we make in regard to the future, we’re confident it will have a positive, long-term economic benefit to Green Lake,” Nemeth said.

   The Heidel House property initially served as a private estate in 1890.

   It’s served customers as a hospitality landmark for guests in 1945 in a community that calls itself the “oldest resort town west of Niagara Falls.” Fiore has owned it since 1986.

   But, in recent days, numerous troubling signs had emerged.

   Fiore indicated in 2016 that it would be willing to sell part or all of its ownership stake.

   More uncertainty entered the picture early in 2018 when Fiore announced plans to significantly renovate the property in 2019.

   But rumors had begun to swirl about the future of the property in recent months.

   Then, just a few weeks ago, General Manager Kevin Karau left to take a position in Minnesota.

    What happens next may depend upon whether a buyer can be found.

Read a full story, with additional research and interviews, in the March 7, 2019 edition of the Ripon Commonwealth Press.