cragun's on gull lake resort

Cragun’s Resort Review

I just got back from a three-day stay at Cragun’s and I feel like I have to take a vacation from my vacation. The food is disgusting. The accommodations are outmoded. Everything feels muddy and grimy. I know it’s a lake resort, but the inside shouldn’t feel like the lake.

The first night, I was woken at 2:30 AM by the people next door, loudly clapping and drunkenly singing. We immediately called the front desk. They did nothing.

I know they did nothing because the walls are thin enough I would have heard a knock at their door or a phone call. But they continued for another hour. And this is after they had gotten a first noise complaint at ten o’clock for their loud music. This tells me the staff is undertrained and undermotivated.

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The resort layout is confusing, and there aren’t enough maps or signs to guide you. I have never seen so many people wandering the halls and asking me where something was. Cragun’s caters to large groups like reunions and weddings. The rest of us are left on our own.

My room was on the first floor of one of the Lakeside Lodge rooms. If you bring any of your own lake equipment (such as paddleboards or inner tubes), the first floor is convenient to store belongings on your balcony, then take them to the beach. But the second or third floor can only hang their beach towels to dry.

Sheets, towels, and other amenities are not changed every day–according to “policies agreed upon by the hotel association”. I’m fine with that–it saves the environment. But there is no place to hang them up. Between swimsuits, beach towels, bathing towels, life vests, and other clothes, you will run out of space immediately. This may be a Covid regulation, but the hotel is forcing the burdens on the guest. The television guide was outdated and the internal TV guide didn’t work.

Rooms with Fireplace, Lake View & Loveseat | Cragun's Resort

Speaking of entertainment, television was preferable to the “many” activities. Because, while there were a lot, we didn’t want to do any of them. Anything you want to do, they nickel and dime you. Disc Golf costs $5 per person just to “rent” three frisbees. That’s $20 for a family of four. Twenty dollars for Disc Golf! On a small unkempt field full of weeds and deer poop. Paddles for the Ping Pong table had been stolen and the pool table had been jammed with baseballs. And ping pong balls come from a vending machine.

Anything that’s free is just a glorified scavenger hunt. The board games are basic. The crafts are meant for preschoolers. So if it rains, bring your own entertainment.

Restaurants in Brainerd MN | Cragun's Resort on Gull Lake

Food is substandard. There are two breakfast restaurants. One is a buffet. The first day we were there, they ran out of bacon. As soon as they resupplied the bacon, they ran out of plates. When they restocked the plates, they ran out of coffee cups. Then potatoes. The sausage in the sausage gravy tasted like cut-up hot dogs. The eggs were square-shaped. The orange juice was “Juicy Juice”. Do you know what the first ingredient in “Juicy Juice” orange juice is? Hint: It’s not orange juice.

The other place has breakfast burritos and breakfast sandwiches that are reheated and taste processed to hell. The meat in the sandwiches is “meat of the day”. I don’t know how they expect to compete with chains with service and food like this.

Cragun’s is only good if you bring your own lake gear (e.g. a boat, jet ski, paddleboard, etc.) or plan to golf the entire time. This resort can’t get the little things right. And if they place so little value on the little things, how much can they care about the big things?

Eric Juneau is a software engineer and novelist on his lunch breaks. In 2016, his first novel, Merm-8, was published by eTreasures. He lives in, was born in, and refuses to leave, Minnesota. You can find him talking about movies, video games, and Disney princesses at where he details his journey to become a capital A Author.

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