Encompass Wellness in Saugatuck is here to spice up your workout routine

encompass wellness saugatuck running club

Before she opened Encompass Wellness, April Gundy had worked at a gym for years. Over time, she became frustrated at seeing people start memberships only to never show up again.

“It’s overwhelming to be in a gym if you don’t know what you’re doing. And that’s most people, and especially women, between the ages of 28 and 60,” April said. “They want to be healthy, but a lot of them are almost clueless–for lack of a better word. They lack confidence. So Encompass Wellness kind of came about from that.”

April started Encompass Wellness with the intention of having a fitness experience suited for everyone, “whether it be a running club, or some more physical like flipping tires out in the yard, or a yoga class, or a dance class. There’s something for any level,” April said.

Cardio Drumming at Encompass Wellness
Cardio Drumming at Encompass Wellness

A great workout for every level at Encompass Wellness

Encompass Wellness offers a variety of classes–from low impact ones like barre and yoga, to higher impact ones like Bootcamp and Cardio and Core Circuit. Each one has something unique to offer, so Encompass Wellness clients can mix it up every day of the week.

April says it’s common for her clients to combine two classes to get a well-rounded and balanced workout. A favorite combination is cardio drumming and barre, which are scheduled one right after the other.

Cardio drumming is a whole body cardio workout that involves hitting a balance ball, held in place by a big plastic bucket, with drumsticks. Add some music, and you’ve got a high energy workout designed to get your heart pumping.

Lakeshore Lodging Host Alyssa Nykerk has done the cardio drumming and barre combo. She says that cardio drumming is an especially fun workout.

“Cardio Drumming is a class where you are constantly moving. By the end of the class you feel energized and refreshed,” Alyssa said. “People are laughing–sometimes you accidentally throw your stick because it just slips out of your hand, or the ball comes out of the bucket,” Alyssa said. “It’s fun; it’s not intimidating.”

Combine Encompass Wellness workouts for a more holistic experience

Once you’ve done the cardio workout, your muscles are warmed up and ready for some strength training. Barre is a zero-impact workout involving a series of exercises that isolate and strengthen specific muscles.

Yoga at Encompass Wellness
Yoga at Encompass Wellness

“After cardio drumming, your muscles are warm and you’re ready to go. You can get into those isolated moves and benefit much more,” April said.

“Barre is a great workout because it really can involve anybody, any level,” April said. “It’s zero impact, and then it’s very slow.

“When you move slower, you have time to learn the moves and what you’re actually supposed to be doing.”

The slow nature of the workout means you might not sweat, but that doesn’t mean you won’t feel the results the next day.

“A lot of our clients find barre to be a little easier, but then they are surprised when the next day they’re sore,” April said. “I hear all the time: ‘I didn’t think I was doing anything, but now I can’t walk!’”

Both classes are great for newcomers and those with more experience–the instructors at Encompass Wellness support you at every level.

“The instructor is so energetic and she makes you feel so comfortable,” said Alyssa, who attends the barre class every week. “She always tells you, ‘Do the best you can.’”

Get 2 Encompass Wellness classes for the price of 1

This spring, Lakeshore Lodging has partnered up with Encompass Wellness to give our guests the opportunity to try two fitness classes for the price of one. Snag this deal and kickstart your exercise routine and set the tone for summer. Learn more.

Recharge and reset: Get ready for summer with a wellness vacation in Saugatuck

wellness vacation in saugatuck

It can be hard to make time for wellness when you’re wrapped up in the hustle of work and life. Add to that the bummer winter weather that makes everything look and feel gray, chances are your workout routine hasn’t been your top priority.

No judgment here. But now that our little part of the planet is tilting closer to the sun and summer’s approaching, there’s never been a better time to energize with some exercise. Devote some time to taking care of your body with a wellness vacation in Saugatuck. In addition to gorgeous outdoor areas to hike and explore, Saugatuck offers a variety of great gyms, yoga studios, and spas where you can give your health the attention it deserves. Here’s where we recommend you go:

Where to exercise on your wellness vacation in Saugatuck

Stretch your muscles and wake up your body with some energizing exercise. Take advantage of Saugatuck’s local gyms and yoga studios.

Encompass Wellness

Encompass Wellness offers a suite of great classes to shake up your workout routine. Tired of the same old cardio? Try cardio drumming or Piyo. A class at Encompass Wellness will remind you that exercise is fun. Find out how you can get a deal on two Encompass Wellness classes when you stay with Lakeshore Lodging in April.

Satya Yoga

A regular yoga practice can be a stabilizing force when life gets hectic. Kick start your yoga journey on your wellness vacation in Saugatuck. Find tranquility, balance, and breath with a class at Satya Yoga.

Blue Star Gym

Blue Star Gym offers both fitness classes and a modern training facility. It’s a great option for the gym rat, with all the equipment you need to make sure you don’t miss leg day. 

Where to pamper yourself on your wellness vacation in Saugatuck

Relax and refresh with a trip to one of Saugatuck’s spas.

Bella Vita Spa and Suites

Soothe your aching muscles with a massage at Bella Vita Spa and Suites in downtown Saugatuck, or tend to your skin care needs with a facial.

Redefine Medspa

Redefine Medspa in Douglas offers a suite of massage and facial options. Refresh your look with their waxing and injectable services, too.

Waterfront Day Spa

This spring, Waterfront Day Spa will offer spa packages that include a massage, facial, body scrub & wraps. Pre-book yours today to ensure you take advantage of this holistic self care opportunity!

Joli’ of Saugatuck

Visit Joli’ of Saugatuck for a rose quartz facial or get a skin care consult to get on the road to looking fresh for summer 2018.

Top 4 spots to bask in the glorious return of spring in Saugatuck

spring in saugatuck

Chances are, the bitter cold winter months have prevented you from spending quality time in nature. Your body is probably feeling that deprivation—time spent in natural surroundings has a direct connection to your overall health. In Japan, it’s common to prescribe “forest bathing”—or taking in the forest atmosphere—as preventive health care.  That’s not a bad idea. This spring in Saugatuck, devote some time to getting back into nature.

Come to Saugatuck to take in the smells of earth taking its first breaths after months of snow cover, the birdsong, the bluer skies, and the warmer temperatures. Take a forest bath and leave those dreary winter doldrums far behind you.

Here’s where you should go:

Top 4 natural places to experience spring in Saugatuck

Saugatuck Dunes State Park

With miles and miles of winding trails, you can spend hours taking in the natural beauty of Saugatuck Dunes State Park. Witness the diversity of forest and dune ecosystems that make up the park. See the beautiful wildflowers that pop up before the canopy of trees above them fills. Make your way to the beach and be invigorated by the crisp breeze off of the still-way-too-cold-to-swim-in Lake Michigan. Time spent in this park will leave you feeling refreshed.

Mount Baldhead

For a challenging hike that ends in a rewarding dune-top view of Lake Michigan, try ascending the 302 steps at Mount Baldhead. This park is a Saugatuck favorite, and it offers a 1-mile trail loop for walking, hiking, and running. Cooler spring temperatures mean you won’t overheat as you hike to the top and then descend through the grassy dunes to the lakeshore.

Saugatuck Harbor Natural Area

This natural area is located near Oval Beach and features 2.5 miles of trails winding through precious interdunal wetland, forest, and dune ecosystems. Discover the ways water marries land as you meander along the shores of Lake Michigan, the Kalamazoo River, and the Oxbow Lagoon. This hike can be hot in the summer, so spring is a perfect time to enjoy it.

River Bluff Park

For a lighter hike, try River Bluff Park. Take in spring in Saugatuck as you wander through its 27 acres toward the Kalamazoo River. Rest at benches along the trail, and bring your fishing gear to try your luck on the river!

Look for these spring wildflowers in West Michigan parks!

spring wildflowers in west michigan

As the snow melts (and it will melt again, we promise), bright little pops of color will start to push through the leaf litter, stretching toward the sky. These wildflowers will bloom as long as the budding trees above them allow enough sunlight to touch the ground. When the canopy closes, they’ll disappear, giving way to other shade-loving flora. But before they do, you can catch glimpses of spring wildflowers in West Michigan parks.

The Land Conservancy of West Michigan has put together wildflower guide to help you find spring and summer wildflowers in their preserves and partnering parks. Page through the guide to find beautiful photographs, detailed descriptions, months in bloom, and the locations and ecosystems in which you can find spring and summer wildflowers in West Michigan.

Some spring wildflowers start popping up in West Michigan as early as late February. Here are a few you might be able to find in March and April in Saugatuck’s forested parks.

3 spring wildflowers to find in Saugatuck


This wildflower is famous in Michigan–known to many as one you absolutely should not pick. Though you can find them in abundance, they are a protected wildflower in the state of Michigan and are therefore illegal to pick or transplant. Their brilliant white petals can fill a forest floor, turning pink as they age and wilt.

Wild Geranium

The purple-blue petals of the wild geranium appear to glow against the green forest growth. Their stalks grow to between one and two feet tall. Find colonies of this flower in shade or partial sunlight starting in April.

Yellow Trout Lily

The Yellow Trout Lily is so called because of the similarity the brown mottled pattern of its leaves bears to the fish. The bright yellow petals of its drooping flowers curve upward. It depends on an open forest canopy that allows in lots of sun, and it can be found in West Michigan as early as March.

Download the Land Conservancy of West Michigan’s guide for more wildflowers to find in the area throughout the season!

Best Saugatuck family reunion venues

saugatuck family reunion venues

Planning a family reunion can be stressful. Give yourself something to look forward to by choosing a location the whole family is sure to adore. Saugatuck’s beautiful lakeshore location makes it a desirable vacation destination, and with a variety of parks and venues to choose from, it’s a great town for a family reunion, too. Thinking about bringing your extended family to town? Check out these great Saugatuck family reunion venues. Then find where you’ll stay.

Saugatuck family reunion venues

Felt Mansion

This historic building has several areas available to rent for a family gathering. Choose from a quiet library, an open parlor, a covered terrace, or fine dining rooms and ballrooms. The mansion is located right by Shore Acres Park, which connects to trails leading to the Lake Michigan lakeshore. Gorgeous scenery and upscale accommodations come together at this family reunion venue. Learn more.

J Petter Gallery

This gallery has a few spaces available for rental as a family reunion venue. Its beautiful gated garden has room to host parties of up to 35, and the gallery itself has 12,500 square feet of art space. While art events are the main focus of this space, a variety of celebrations can be hosted here. Learn more about reserving either of these spaces for a family reunion.

Belvedere Inn & Restaurant

The Belvedere Inn & Restaurant is a classic, bright space with a number of rooms perfect for a family reunion. Enjoy food and wine selected from the restaurant’s seasonal menu. Parties of up to 40 guests can be hosted in the rooms at this Saugatuck family reunion venue. See what works best for your group and learn more.

Saugatuck Center for the Arts Outdoor Pavilion

The Saugatuck Center for the Arts offers a gorgeous outdoor space for a family reunion. The outdoor pavilion looks out onto a beautiful rain garden, creating a breezy and inviting atmosphere. Learn more about reserving this space.

Outdoor Parks

Nothing makes for a more classic family reunion venue than an outdoor park. Saugatuck offers a handful of beautiful parks located right by Lake Michigan. Grill out, play, and enjoy the company of your family at one of these great lakeside parks.

West Side County Park

With plenty of picnic tables, a covered pavilion, and a gazebo perfect for watching the sunset over the lake, West Side County Park is a perfect spot for a family reunion. Descend the stairs or ADA-accessible ramp to access the beach.

Mount Baldhead Park

Located at the foot of Mount Baldhead, this park offers a pavilion with picnic tables. Convene with family members and enjoy a potluck in the park’s beautiful natural surroundings.

Schultz Park

This Douglas park offers a baseball diamond, soccer field, tennis courts, pavilions, a playground, picnic tables, and a hiking trail. For a day full of activity and each other’s company, you can’t go wrong hosting your family reunion here.

Find the best Lake Michigan lodging for family reunions

lake michigan lodging for family reunions

The Lake Michigan lakeshore is a perfect place for a family reunion. Pristine beaches, lush parks, and the spirit of lake life are all accents to what’s already sure to be a joyous gathering of extended family. Saugatuck offers an abundance of spacious parks and gorgeous venues to host family reunions. But where will you stay? Finding Lake Michigan lodging for family reunions doesn’t have to be a challenge. Staying in a large vacation rental or a couple different ones in close proximity is a great way to make sure everyone in your group is comfortable.

Lakeshore Lodging has several vacation rentals that are just right for family reunion lodging. These are some of our favorites:

Lake Michigan lodging for family reunions

Lake Breeze

Lake Breeze is a perfect vacation rental for a lakeshore family reunion. It sleeps 17 guests and is just a short walk from an association beach on Lake Michigan. With a spacious deck, screened porch, and backyard with a firepit, there is abundant outdoor entertainment space for family members of all ages–and a couple of dogs, too! Prep food in the large kitchen, grill out in the backyard, enjoy each other’s company and your time on the lakeshore without ever having to leave the home.

Lake Perch

This large, gorgeous home sleeps 12 guests and has ample space for a summer family reunion. It offers an enormous yard with outdoor amenities like a grill to cook out on, and a basketball hoop and tire swing. Plus, all family members will enjoy direct access to 230 feet of private Lake Michigan beach. The home itself offers plenty of space to convene or find privacy, including a family room on the lower level with a ping pong table and TV.

Kingfisher Cove Cabins 16, 27, 28, 29

These homes are part of a quaint cabin association on beautiful spring-fed Goshorn Lake. With access to the lake for swimming, kayaking and fishing, as well as access to an association pool, these homes have something for everyone. Each cabin sleeps 8, and multiple cabins can be reserved to host the whole family. Plus, each one has its own hot tub. Saugatuck Dunes State Park and its gorgeous beach are just a short drive away, as are downtown Saugatuck and Douglas.

Blackstone on the Bluff

This historic home used to be a boarding house. Now it’s a beautiful vacation rental that features immaculate views of Lake Michigan, a plush private beach, and room to sleep 14 guests. With a roomy kitchen, a screened porch with lots of seating, and a large yard complete with a fire pit, it’s a great spot to stay for a family reunion. Dogs are welcome, too. Both Saugatuck and South Haven are just a short drive from this home, but you’ll hardly want to leave.

How to master vacation rental cooking

vacation rental cooking

Cooking for friends and family is a joy. Good food is a force of connection, and the conversations had over preparing and eating meals become some of the most memorable. For many, vacation often means eating at a lot of restaurants. But when you stay in a vacation rental with a gorgeous kitchen, you can bring those good meal making feelings with you. Vacation rental cooking requires a little planning, but it can be remarkably rewarding.

We’ve got some tips that will help you make the most out of your vacation rental cooking experience.

Vacation rental cooking tips and tricks

vacation rental cookingPack the essentials

Vacation rental kitchens often have a basic selection of tools and equipment, but if you have some holy grail tools you can’t live without, pack them! And if you have a favorite seasoning or condiment that you aren’t sure you’ll be able to find at your destination, make sure you bring it along. Plan on purchasing fresh ingredients when you arrive.

When you arrive: Take stock of your rental’s offerings

Before you go grocery shopping, explore your vacation rental’s cupboards. Find out what seasonings, condiments, and tools are at the ready. Plan your meals around what you have, and make a list of what you’ll need. This way you can avoid purchasing a surplus of groceries, and your menu is kind of shaped by the space you’re spending vacation in.

vacation rental cookingKeep it simple

When it comes to vacation rental cooking, simplicity is key. You’re on vacation—don’t stress over a complex meal! Plan on using fewer ingredients so grocery shopping is quick and easy. You want to avoid ending up with too many leftover, unused groceries. And plan meals that don’t require a lot of tools. You won’t want to be bogged down with a lot of dishes to clean up.

Plan ahead

Plan all of the meals you’re going to make during your stay in advance so you can limit the amount of time spent in a grocery store. When it’s time to shop, get the essentials at a local supermarket or take advantage of a grocery delivery service like Shipt (now available in both Saugatuck and Douglas!).

vacation rental cookingWelcome serendipity

Add local flare to your meals with things you find in your travels. Visit the local farmers market, buy supplies for your own artisanal cheese platter at a local shop, and forage for herbs in the wild or in your vacation rental’s garden. Spend the day at a U-Pick orchard and make a dessert from what you gathered. These are the kind of things that will make your meals unique to your vacation and totally unforgettable.

Enjoy the process

Cooking is fun. Take your time when you’re putting together your meals and relish in the process. Get everyone involved by assigning different people to chop vegetables, cut bread, or prepare appetizers. Make an event out of cooking your meals, and you’ll make loads of delicious memories while you’re at it.

5 farm to table Saugatuck restaurants to inspire your palate

Choosing to eat locally produced food has a bevy of benefits. The most obvious being that your food is guaranteed to be fresh–none of it will have spent days traveling cross country in a truck. For that reason, eating locally is also ecofriendly, because it reduces emissions from shipping. You can experience the difference yourself at a variety of farm to table Saugatuck restaurants.

Farm to table restaurants strive to source their ingredients locally. They develop personal relationships with the people who produce them and are invested in the freshness and quality of the products they use. That means you don’t have to wonder where your food is coming from, and you get to enjoy a fresh, delicious meal you can feel good about. These are our favorite farm to table Saugatuck restaurants to support.

Experience farm to table Saugatuck

Growfarm to table saugatuck

Grow is a great spot for breakfast or brunch. Their menu is filled with inspired plates made with locally sourced ingredients, making it an obvious choice for a farm to table meal.

Everyday People Cafe

This Douglas restaurant is a long-time favorite. Its diverse menu features farm-sourced ingredients where possible. It’s a great spot for brunch or dinner, and their diverse selection of fine wines and craft beers make this cafe a must visit during your stay in the area.

farm to table saugatuckSalt of the Earth

Salt of the Earth is located in Fennville, a rich farming community. The restaurant invites visitors to “savor the bounty of the Michigan farm, beverage, and roots music communities.” If a taste of the local terroir is what you seek, Salt of the Earth is the place to go.

The Southerner

Located right on the river, The Southerner serves up great views, warm hospitality, and spicy southern inspired dishes. They source ingredients from a variety of local producers, which you can read more about on their website.

the southerner farm to table saugatuckKismet Farm Bakery

For ethically produced breads to pair with your home cooked meals or desserts to follow them up with, Kismet Farm Bakery is a must visit.  They pride themselves on using all organic dairy and fruit, sourcing them locally whenever possible. Their website proclaims: “ecovore and locavore customers can rest assured that we have made the best choices for each ingredient, in each amazing product.”


#BookDirect with Lakeshore Lodging and save


If you usually book your vacation rentals through websites like HomeAway, Airbnb and Booking.com, you’re probably paying too much. 

Many people who book vacation rentals do so through these online travel agencies (or OTAs). These websites make it easy to see a variety of homes your vacation destination has to offer. But you may not realize that such a service comes at a cost–one that is attached to the price you pay to book the home and can add up to hundreds of dollars.

There’s a simple way to avoid paying that extra cash: Book directly with the vacation rental manager who listed the home. Today, vacation rental managers like us are celebrating #BookDirect day—a day designed to inform our guests about the benefits of choosing to book direct.

How to #BookDirect

Online travel agencies don’t link to the property managers’ websites for obvious reasons–they want to discourage you from avoiding the fees they charge. But a simple Google search of the property manager’s name (e.g. Lakeshore Lodging) will take you right to their website, where you’ll not only find the property you’re looking for at a better price, but a variety of beautiful homes you might not have seen otherwise.

There’s plenty of reasons to choose to book directly with the property manager you’re staying with. Here are our top three.

3 reasons to #BookDirect

Save serious cash

The fee OTAs add to reservations made through them can add up to hundreds of dollars. But the service you receive from the people you book with is the same. Why choose to pay so much more for the same service? You have the freedom to avoid those costs by simply choosing to book direct.

Find homes you might not see on OTAs

Vacation rental managers don’t always list all of their rentals on online travel agencies. You might miss out on a home that’s even more perfect for your vacation than the one you found on HomeAway or Airbnb. Be sure to visit the vacation rental manager’s website to see all of the available offerings.

Support local small business

The vacation rental managers who list their properties on OTAs are often small businesses who call your vacation destination home. When you book direct, you’re choosing to directly support their business.

Evening in Saugatuck: Drinks, Dining, and Lake Michigan sunsets

When the buzz of the afternoon starts to fade and the light becomes a little softer, the energy in Saugatuck becomes pleasantly muted. Now’s the time to wind down (or prepare to crank it up, if you’re a night owl). Either way, you’ll want to spend the golden hours with music, tasty cocktails, and beautiful views. Here are some of our favorite ways to spend an evening in Saugatuck.

How to create a perfect evening in Saugatuck

evening in saugatuckCatch a musical act in the park or at a venue

West Michigan is brimming with great musicians, and there’s no better way to kick off an evening than a great set in a great setting. Every summer Wednesday from 7-9pm, catch a different musical act in riverside Wicks Park. And on the weekends, you can almost always find musicians playing at places like Saugatuck Brewing Company, Borrowed Time, or Fenn Valley Vineyards.

Drinks at Red Dock

Fans of Red Dock call it a taste of Key West in West Michigan. The outdoor bar and eatery puts you right in the harbor. A cheeky sense of humor pervades the island-style decor, and your bill will come to you on a mouse trap. Pair your cocktail with water views, a light breeze, and a sunset when you hang out at Red Dock.

evening in saugatuckDine with class

Evenings are a great time to get a little dressed up and treat yourself to a meal of the highest quality. For a culinary experience that will leave your taste buds inspired, you can’t go wrong with Bowdies Chophouse. Or try one of the unique dishes and cocktails put together at Hercules. Visit J. Paul’s at The Kirby for a farm-sourced meal paired with a delicious selection of wines.

Catch the sunset over Lake Michigan

No two Lake Michigan sunsets are ever alike, and that’s why spending the day’s waning hours on the lakeshore is always a good idea. With totally unobstructed views of the sky, the reflective artwork of the waves, and the limitless creativity of the clouds’ refractions, you will begin to understand the true meaning of the word “awesome.”

evening in saugatuckBonfire at your vacation rental or on the beach

By the time you return to your home base, the sky’s fiery reds and oranges will be fading into dusky blues and purples. The air will feel a little chillier. The chorus of chirping crickets and peeping frogs will begin to crescendo, and fireflies will start to decorate the yard. Join them in ushering in the night: convene with friends and family around the crackling warmth of a bonfire. There’s no better way to say “goodnight” to a summer day in Saugatuck.

Featured Image: John Winkelman