Hear people talk about a long weekend in Door County and your mind goes to the obvious attractions—small town Wisconsin charm, cherry pie, art galleries, and abundant festivals of all descriptions. Scenes from this region conjure postcards throughout the year, ones that depict rustic cabins in the woods, old-fashioned B&Bs, and vintage cottages on the bay.
Before visiting Egg Harbor and the surrounding towns recently with my family, that’s exactly what I envisioned. But the waterfront property we were lucky to discover took our Door County experience to the next level, adding a layer of luxury and sophistication.
The peaceful walks in the woods and s’mores by the bonfire were the same, only ours were enjoyed from a 7,000-square-foot vacation home that felt more like an exclusive retreat. With one acre of private woodland, 6 bedrooms, 6.5 baths, and a large, 1 bedroom, 1 bath coach house, it offered everything our large family of eight children needed to spread out and soak in the natural beauty of the area.
From car shows to frozen custard in Fish Creek (my kids loved Not Licked Yet) to watching the sun set over the bay from the spectacular terrace, we enjoyed every moment there.
It may not surprise our readers to learn that the owners of this and a neighboring vacation rental (almost identical in size and layout) have Chicago connections. Bill O’Neil says that when he and his Winnetka friends Kevin Plunkett and Carter Ruehrdanz bought the three-acre parcel in the 7500 block of Mariner Road in 2012, it had been the site of an old hotel with a series of small cottages spread along the waterfront.
“We razed the dilapidated cottages and divided the land into three lots,” O’Neil says. “We sold one lot and built two mansions on the others, enlisting renowned Winnetka architect Doug Reynolds to draw up the plans.”
O’Neil’s wife Cindy Erickson did all the decorating with only high-end furniture, linens, and amenities, all which added to the luxury experience. To say that we felt pampered is an understatement.
Every floor had radiant heat, including the garage and coach house. The kitchen was very high end, with Wolf Range and Subzero refrigerator, and the great room with a roaring fireplace and big screen TV quickly became a favorite family gathering place. My kids especially enjoyed the large yard and private access to the waterfront. To be honest, there’s so much to do right there on the property that we almost didn’t even need to go into the nearby small towns.
However, I’m glad we did—venturing out to Fish Creek and beyond almost every day. We enjoyed all the qualities the area is known for, from the cozy feeling of the people to the quaint shops and restaurants. But by the end of the vacation, my perception of a rustic Door County getaway was elevated beyond my expectations, and that’s exactly what O’Neil and his team had in mind.
“Our goal was to develop the land to provide a luxury rental experience,” explains O’Neil, adding that it’s almost that time of year when the water begins to freeze over for winter activities. “We would enjoy seeing more renters from the North Shore, whether it be for family reunions, business retreats, or small, intimate weddings.”
My family and I can’t recommend it enough.
For more information about the rental properties at 7501 and 7505 Mariner Road, visit 7501mariner.com.