It takes six to run Twin Pines Resort
Making the move from big city executive-style corporate life working in five-star hotels with hundreds of employees to becoming the sole owner-operators- chief cook and bottle washers of a small family-owned resort may be viewed as a tadbit radical. But after 25 years, the Enos of Garrison say it not only takes two, it takes six – the whole family – to run Twin Pines Resort.
“She is a good story teller,” Bill Eno said of his wife Linda. “I’ll let her tell it.”
Both Bill and Linda have worked in the hospitality industry their whole lives, mostly working in five-star hotels across the country. As luck would have it, they both worked for the Marriott Hotel chain at the same time. Bill worked as the director of food and beverage at the Bloomington Marriott here in Minnesota while Linda was the sales manager working in Boston, St. Louis and Chicago before transferring to Bloomington.
“I was only supposed to be in Bloomington for two years and go back to Boston,” Linda said. “I never made it back to work in Boston.”
The two were more than two ships that pass in the night. They fell in love, married and started a family.
After working for a giant chain of hotels for so long, the two decided they wanted something more. “We left the house at 6 a.m. and we were home at 7 p.m. We didn’t have an opportunity for much family time,” Linda said. “We wanted to do something that would allow us more flexibility.”
Bill grew up in Savage. When he was younger, he and his dad made the trek to Mille Lacs Lake every fishing opener to fish together as well as many times throughout the year. “He has always loved this lake,” Linda said.
When Twin Pines Resort came up for sale it was the perfect fit for what Bill and Linda were looking for to provide the kind of life they wanted for their kids.
“So 25 years ago, we decided to bag the city life and bought Twin Pines,” Linda said. “We moved here with our kids: 4, 5, 6 and 7 years old.”
But when the front-of-the-house operations (sales) clash with the back-of-the-house operations (food and beverage) they found themselves falling back into their previous roles.
“He never really wants to admit that sales and marketing are important,” Linda said. “Well, he knows they are, but he won’t admit it. You need a strong front-of-the-house and a strong back-of-the-house to work together to be successful, while raising four kids.”
Looking around at the walls in the bar of the resort now one can find a plethora of photographs of smiling happy customers posing with their catch of the day over the course of those 25 years.
“I could never have done it without you,” Bill said to Linda. But getting him to say that out loud was like pulling teeth from a crocodile.”
Linda hopped up to answer the phone and Bill went to the kitchen to prepare a breakfast omelet for a customer.
“The kitchen really is his happy place,” Linda said of Bill. Both Bill and Linda love to cook, “but not together,” Bill said with a grin.
“He is really his happiest if he can be cooking in the kitchen with his kids cooking at his side.”
They are always on the go. They each walk around with a cell phone in their hands, answering calls, sending text messages, replying to Facebook posts. “Linda does that Facebook thing,” Bill said. “I don’t.”
The resort boasts a 13-unit hotel that turns into a 48-unit hotel in the winter months. The resort offers 35 fish house rentals.
During the summer months Bill and Linda run three launch boats. Each can carry 25-35 people that go out on the lake fishing three times per day for four hours.
“The kids all grew up here. From early on they all learned the business,” Linda said. “The boys were fishing with Bill every day and took turns being next to him when he was cooking. The girls waited tables. My 5-year-old daughter did all of the talking, asking people what they wanted and my 7-year-old daughter would write the orders down. They loved it and the customers thought it was great.”
All four kids were learning the business from their mom and dad as they grew into their teens and beyond. “The average life-span of a resort owner is seven years,” Linda said. “We can proudly say we’ve outlived the average and then some. We have built an amazing business, hoping one or two of our kids might want to take over. Both Bill and the boys are licensed launch boat captains.”
But in 2000 the economy started to change. “We didn’t complain. We raised four great kids. They all went to college. They all have jobs. And they all come back on weekends to help here at the resort,” Linda said. “The only reason we have survived the turmoil of the lake is that Bill is a good money manager,” Linda said, adding, he is also a general contractor, mechanic, plumber, electrician, launch captain and he wears a few more hats than that even.
Linda is the personality in the front of the house: taking reservations, talking with customers, giving free hugs, taking thousands of photos, pouring a few drinks.
“You do need a personality in the front of the house,” Bill admitted. “That’s Linda.”
Twin Pines is most definitely a family business where families are always welcome. “We rely on a close circle of family and friends to get through the times when it is hard to find help,” Linda said.
Linda’s eyes sparkle when she speaks of her family, especially her kids. “They have a great work ethic, have amazing people skills and problem-solving skills. My kids have learned a lot while living and working here and that has equipped them very well for their active lifestyles and careers.”
While the walls are lined with photos of smiling, happy people, Linda emphasized it is a lot of work and is not without emotional and physical stress.
“But nobody ever said it would be easy,” Linda said. “But our service is top-notch.”
Both Bill and Linda are passionate about their family and their business which is why they are nearly equally passionate about the politics of the lake. They are both very active and vocal about their feelings and will share their opinions with anyone and everyone.
“We have to,” Linda said. “This is our life.”
The Enos have been the proud owners of Twin Pines for 25 years. A lot has changed in those years. Some are good, some are not as good. But given the choice between living in the city running in the circles of the big corporate world or living on the jewel of Minnesota with a chance to fish every day and watch the sunrise over the lake, they wouldn’t have it any other way.
It takes more than two to run a resort. “It takes at least six,” Linda said laughing. “And a whole lot of love and support from great customers, family and friends.”