The Suttle Lodge’s Chef’s Dinners are served in a convivial family-style atmosphere. photo by AJ Meeker
The Suttle Lodge’s Chef’s Dinners are served in a convivial family-style atmosphere. photo by AJ Meeker
People all across the Pacific Northwest think of The Suttle Lodge as a summertime place, a place of family vacations at the lake, of canoes and kayaks and waterskis, of hikes along the trail and old-fashioned dinners at The Boathouse.

And it is all of these things.

In recent years, though, The Suttle Lodge has also become a winter refuge for folks in Sisters and Central Oregon looking to get away without having to travel too far down winter roads.

According to Rebekah Bellingham, the staff at The Suttle Lodge has created a menu of culinary, visual, and musical arts events to "ramp up content and culture to drive people there. It's been very successful at that."

Bellingham said that it's important to the staff that people in Sisters feel like The Suttle Lodge is "their space" - a place to come and enjoy an evening even if they are not a guest there.

"The biggest win is seeing more locals come as regulars," Bellingham said. "A lot of the programing I create there is for this community."

A centerpiece of the "off-season" is a series of chef's dinners, featuring some of the culinary stars of the Pacific Northwest presenting multi-course meals, paired with the region's wines.

The dinners are served in an intimate setting inside the Lodge. While the price point reflects an extraordinary culinary experience, the staff makes sure that the atmosphere is highly convivial and unpretentious.

The next chef's dinner features Ben Bettinger of Laurelhurst Market with Timothy Malone Wines on Saturday, February 23. Laurelhurst Market is a brasserie-inspired steakhouse, full-service butcher shop, and neighborhood bar with chef-owners David Kreifels, Jason Owens, and Benjamin Dyer of Your Neighborhood Restaurant Group. Timothy Malone Wines is a small family-owned and -operated winery in the Willamette Valley. Wines are made with minimal-intervention winemaking practices inspired by Oregon's vintner forefathers, resulting in authentic wines that are reflective of a time and place.

The dinners run into April; more information may be found regularly in The Nugget and at www.thesuttlelodge.com/happenings.

Bellingham particularly enjoys booking music for the weekly Fireside Show, an intimate evening of music on Thursday nights a couple of times each month. As the name implies, the venue is next to the fireplace in the Lodge.

Bellingham picks out touring musicians who are coming through the area, and regional artists.

"If I like their music and think it will be a good fit, I bring them down," she explained.

The March 7 Fireside Show features Ryan Sollee with Autopilot is for Lovers and the March 21 show features Portland folk-singer Laura Gibson with Kele Goodwin.

The shows are set up to be accessible for the public, with a $5 charge and a 7 p.m. start and a 9 p.m. finish time to allow folks to get back home at a reasonable hour. Food and beverages are available at the Skip Bar during the performances.

The Suttle Lodge also supports the visual arts, offering residencies during the winter in one of their rustic cabins.

"Every two weeks we have a different artist come to stay with us," said Bellingham.

Those artists offer a free public presentation on their work every other Sunday, from 4 to 6 p.m.

Activities at The Suttle Lodge run through summer, featuring music on the lawn overlooking Suttle Lake on Friday evenings. The Boathouse opens up Memorial Day Weekend. That establishment, which was battered by floods and destructive weather in recent years, has been restored to the feel of an old-time fish shack, serving seasonal, locally sourced foods - "nostalgic Americana kind of food," as Bellingham describes it - by the waterside.

In all cases, The Suttle Lodge welcomes the Sisters and Central Oregon community to come out and enjoy.

"We want to welcome the community to come and use our space," Bellingham said. "They don't have to be a guest at the Lodge to enjoy our spaces."

For more information visit www.thesuttlelodge.com.