R&R at Grand Geneva
For nearly 50 years, people have flocked to Lake Geneva to this premier hot spot.
Originally home to the prestigious Lake Geneva Playboy Club and a state-of-the-art recording studio, Grand Geneva Resort & Spa in Lake Geneva remains a popular attraction located just over the Illinois border and McHenry County line.
Housed on 1,300 acres complete with enchanting lakes, trails and ski hills, its charms have continued to draw in people both near and far over the course of nearly a half-century.
Where women once donned bunny ears and cottontails, they now lounge by the resort’s pool or pamper themselves at the WELL Spa + Salon. But the resort isn’t just a place for women to unwind — people of all ages enjoy taking advantage of a variety of Grand Geneva activities such as golfing, fine dining, swimming and skiing.
An Evolving Property
The Lake Geneva Playboy Club came into existence in 1968 and was the first Playboy resort built by Hugh Hefner.
After the Playboy Club went bankrupt and closed in 1981, the facility was then converted into the Americana Resort and was later purchased by Marcus Hotels — at a cost of $30 million — in 1993.
Close to 1 million people visit the resort every year, with a little more than 700 hotel rooms available to accommodate guests.
Ringing in 45 Years
The resort celebrated its 45th anniversary in 2013 with the publication of “A Grand Tale,” which details both the history of the resort and of Lake Geneva. It discusses how the facility was first contrived, what made it special, why the Playboy Club ultimately closed, and how the resort has continued to change and flourish over the years.
Former employees of Playboy and Americana shared artifacts and photos for the book.
A Lake Geneva Landmark
Some people believe Grand Geneva’s history as the Playboy Club helped shape the resort into what it is today.
When Playboy came to Lake Geneva, it put Lake Geneva on the map nationally, and Lake Geneva has continued to be a popular national tourist destination in the summer and today is known as “The Hamptons of the Midwest.”
Though fewer than 8,000 residents live in Lake Geneva year-round, thousands of people flock to its beaches and Geneva Lake during the warm summer months.
Many of these visitors also frequent Grand Geneva and enjoy lodging or dining at the prestigious Geneva ChopHouse.
“When the Playboy resort was here, it was very well-known in Chicago,” said Lake Como resident LaDonna Palicki, a former resident of the Chicago suburbs, when asked what she thought of the resort and the changes it has gone through over the years. “[Today] the Grand Geneva is beautiful and the grounds are beautiful, especially at Christmas.”
“The corporation is the largest employment company of Walworth County,” added Terry Guthrie, a Lake Como resident and Grand Geneva employee, when asked why she feels Grand Geneva is important to the town.
“The Grand Geneva provides a lot of jobs for people in the community. People will often come back year after year, for weddings and anniversaries and to see how it’s changed and how the atmosphere changes.”