Double JJ Resort
|Double JJ Resort|
Location within Michigan
|Address||5900 Water Road, Rothbury, MI 49452|
|Number of rooms||162|
|Number of restaurants||Nine: The Sundance Steakhouse and Saloon, Spaghetti Western, Rustler's Roost, Miner's Gulp, The Waterin' Hole(Seasonal), The Ice Cream Parlor(Seasonal), Shooter's Saloon(Seasonal), The Silver Dollar(Seasonal), Cactus Jack's (Seasonal)|
Double JJ Resort is located in Rothbury, Michigan. It is a four-season resort which opened as the Jack and Jill Ranch in 1937. It has been the location of the Rothbury Music Festival two times, and has hosted the Electric Forest Festival annually since 2011. Double JJ has expanded to include a golf course, an indoor water park, and conference center to go along with the original ranch.
In 1914 George and Mary Stouch left their home in Central Germany and settled on 80 acres (320,000 m2) of farmland in Western Michigan. The farm included a brick home built by the Kennedy family in 1894. The land also embraced a large, spring fed lake, Big Wildcat Lake.
In 1930 daughter Roma was employed as an instructor at a private school for girls. She was the first to use the lake setting and surrounding woods at their father’s farm commercially. She presented a summer camping experience at Wildcat Lake to her students, hoping to get their parents approval. Roma would be the councilor and instruct 8 to 12 year olds in outdoor camping, crafts, swimming, drama, dancing, and sports, including horseback riding. Her project got parental approval, and her first year brought 23 girls to her camp. The camp was named “Cedar Shores” because of the hundreds of white cedar trees surrounding the lake. A stone wall at the corner of Water and Clay road stands today with an embedded bronze plaque marking the site of the first family business attempt.
The deep depression of the early thirties cut short Roma’s efforts and the Cedar Shores experience faded into history.
The beauty of the lake and ease of camping was well known in the community, and during the summer of 1933 the family invited local church congregations to send their children to the farm for a supervised, well counseled summer vacation. This was the Cedar Shores experience two years later, but with kids. To honor their young guests the family renamed the farm “The Jack and Jill Ranch.” Although the kids' ranch remained only two years (followed by a more grandiose camping experience) the name Jack and Jill Ranch was a success beyond imagination and the property was called by that name until the mid-1970s when the owners decided to change the name to the Double JJ Ranch Resort, and in 2009 to the Double JJ Resort.
George Storm (having changed his name from Stouch to Storm) was teaching psychology at Miami University, Florida in 1934. In addition to his classes in speech, public speaking, and psychology, he was head counselor to departing senior students. He learned that they enjoyed their vacations with people their own age, rather than with the wheel chair brigade or little brother tagging along. His concept of bringing people of the same age (18 to 35) together for an outdoor vacation and camping experience was a winner. He had just the place: The Jack and Jill Ranch. In 1936 George Storm, the college professor and visionary, took control and with family help embarked on his concept. He named the new venture The Jack and Jill Colony Camp…later changed to the Jack and Jill Ranch. The Ranch grew and expanded as George bought neighbor farms and extended marketing.
The resort continues its growth to this day, drawing guests from all over the world. Keeping the Western culture and heritage in place with an emphasis on treating guests to warm, friendly, family-like experience has given the resort the distinction of being the biggest western style dude ranch east of the Mississippi.
Due to concerns over the ownership of the ranch, as well as the potential sale of the festival grounds, there was originally uncertainty on whether or not a second festival would be held in 2009. A major hurdle was overcome when a federal bankruptcy judge cleared the way for a lease of the festival property between the bankruptcy trustee and Anschutz Entertainment Group. Performers in 2009 included Guster, Flogging Molly, and Bob Dylan.
The Double JJ Ranch filed for bankruptcy in July 2008. The resort was slated to be sold at an auction, however Progressive Resorts LLC stepped forward at the last minute to purchase the entire resort and re-open it as such.
The ownership has changed hands five times with each ranch host expanding and improving this destination resort. Progressive Resorts, LLC. purchased the resort from bankruptcy court in 2009, and reopened the resort that August.
Today there are in excess of 1,000 acres (4.0 km2) of ranch property, three large lakes, the Thoroughbred Golf Club (1993), Sundance Saloon & Steakhouse (1996), Back Forty resort for kids and families (1998), and most recently the 60,000-square-foot (5,600 m2) Gold Rush Indoor Waterpark and adjoining condo rental suites (2006).
- Chicago Sun Times Archived March 26, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
- Wally Wojack, Local Historian
- Rothbury Festival 2008 Line-Up Archived February 13, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
- Rothbury Festival 2009 Line-Up Archived February 13, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
- Muskegon Chronicle
- Muskegon Chronicle
- Arthur Hills Website