About the Lakeshore Inn

The New Owners

SylvanInn4Cedar residents David and Theresa Gersenson are the new owners of the Sylvan Inn, the guesthouse at 6680 Western Avenue in Glen Arbor. They closed the deal Feb. 11, almost three years after moving to Leelanau County from Nederland, Colo., a small mountain town located about 15 miles west of Boulder.

“Theresa is from (mid-) Michigan, so she knew about Northern Michigan and Traverse City. We were just going to come here for a month to test it out. Instead of testing it, we did the complete opposite,” David said of the family’s first trip to Leelanau County in 2012.

Instead of visiting, the couple and their two children settled here. “Home” is now the Alpine Trout Pond, the former trout fishing business located on 40 acres in Solon Township. The Gersensons also own Island View Cottages west of Traverse City.

David is the founder and former owner of Door To Door Organics, which provides home delivery of organic and natural foods to one’s front door. He founded the company in 1997 in Bucks County, Pa., while still in his 20s. In 2011, he stepped down as CEO and sold his interest in the business and took some time to reconsider his situation.

“For years I’ve been looking for something else I could do and I wasn’t really finding anything,” David said.

SylvanInnAnd then they visited Leelanau County.

“I love vintage,” said David, a collector of model trains and baseball cards featuring pre-Hall of Fame players.

The Sylvan Inn certainly falls under the vintage umbrella. Built in 1885, the inn has provided bed and shelter to a wide range of guests. And even today, the structure’s modest lines suggest a graciousness capable of transporting one to a quieter time. The illusion is helped by the gray Dodge truck, a working artifact from the mid-20th century. It’s parked in front of the inn.

“When I told my family the truck came with the place, my son got giggly,” David said.

The Sylvan Inn was remodeled in 2011 by former owners Rose and Ralph Gladfelter. Now, the 4,876 square-foot structure offers 14 guest rooms, a spa, sauna and continental breakfast. It is within easy stumbling distance to Lake Michigan, and open year-round.

“The building is unbelievable,” David said. “I like how well organized and well maintained the property is. It has been run so perfectly.” Operating on the don’t-fix-what-ain’t-broke principle, the only change to the inn is a switch from continental to warm breakfast, he said.

Leelanau County residents Benji Popa and Allison Nesbitt will manage the Sylvan’s day-to-day operations.

“But you’ll see me here on a daily basis,” David said. Theresa will tend the property’s grounds and gardens.

The Gersensons spent 36 hours moving their household to northern Michigan from Colorado. Theresa drove a Subaru with both children, Shiloh and Juniper, now 8 and 5, one of the family’s three dogs, a cat and et cetera. David commandeered a truck, pulling a pop-up camper, and kept company by the other two dogs, 11 chickens and et cetera. The Convoy Gersenson also included a moving van with the rest of the family’s holdings.

“The chickens were the easiest to move,” he said. “They were stacked in the back of the truck (in transport crates) and I had to keep their water (bottle) filled.”

And so, the Gersensons are here and ready to do business smack dab in the Land of Delight.

“I’m nuts about the county,” David said. It’s a change from the arid mountains they left behind; but he “adores” Glen Arbor. “And I love the 22-minute commute from my house to Glen Arbor every day.”

The list of things he likes about this village on the lake, David said, “could go on and on.”

By Sarah Bearup-Neal Sun contributor