Sunday, October 10, 2004

Canoe Bay the Wright place to relax

By Betsa Marsh
Enquirer contributor

At Canoe Bay, you move your massage table onto the deck at your peril. The masseur vanishes, you whip the sheet around you and open your eyes - right into an intense, chocolate-brown stare. A doe has stopped mid-nibble to watch your bizarre behavior through a kaleidoscope of prairie phlox, purple coneflower and black-eyed Susans.

The eye-to-eye connection is emblematic of Canoe Bay, a resort in Wisconsin's Lakes Region. The area is dedicated to relaxation and nature, but its third pillar of faith is an absolute devotion to native son and nature lover Frank Lloyd Wright.

Canoe Bay is an adults-only sanctuary stretched out in cabins and cottages along the lily-lined shores of Lake Wahdoon, 45 miles north of Eau Claire. It's small, meant for only 20, and serene, meant for serious decompression from modern life.

Dan and Lisa Dobrowolski knew all about city stresses when they bought the old Seventh Day Adventist church camp in 1992, three months after marrying. She was a marketing director; he was a TV weatherman and talk show host - both in Chicago.

Wright, who designed contrasts and surprises into his buildings, would have chuckled at the Dobrowolskis' audacity. They'd retool the old camp buildings following Wright's tenets of organic architecture, stock a fabulous wine cellar and hire a gifted chef. The old wooden inn where Jehovah's Witnesses once took their meals and held their services would see white linens, candlelight and honeymooners reflected in the lapping lake waters.

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