On July 20, 1883, the "Hotel Alexandria" opened on the south shore of Lake Geneva. The grand opening included a grand banquet and formal dance. The Alexandria Cornet Band furnished the music. A fine, new steamer carried excursion parties around the chain of lakes for 25 cents a round trip.
A description of Lake Geneva from the Moorhead News in 1883:
"We can leave our fruitful prairie valley and in a few hours' time, at a small cost, go to one of the finest resorts that is afforded to any people. There we will find lakes of clear, blue, deep water, the banks of which are clothed with the timber of the primeval forest. These lakes afford as fine an opportunity for anglers as the most inveterate disciple of Isak Walton need wish for. Pike, pickerel, bass, white and other fish await the opportunity of being caught. The bathing is good, the beaches are white, clear sand, and resemble the Atlantic beach."
"This is a charming spot. The business man, whose system has become debilitated by close application and confinement, and whose tired brain that is ringing and buzzing with a sea of figures – discount, interests, profit and loss, margins, etc., - can here find a blissful peace, and free from care."
"The grateful shade of the forest trees, the bright sparkling water of the lake, the sylvan quiet of the place, and the gentle influence of waving branches, and summer breezes, that are perfumed with the odor of wild flowers, will soothe his throbbing temples, and cure the pains of overtaxed nature."
"Mothers, whose strength has been spent in the long daily round of household cares, and little children whose delicate paleness gives warning of declining health, will here speedily find a cure."
The Great Northern Railroad made a special stop at a shelter that had been erected near the hotel, and many guests from the Twin Cities, and the mid-west states came to vacation by rail. The hotel was sold in 1896 and renamed "Geneva Beach Hotel". Daily rates were $2.00, but weekly rates were offered at a discount. Unfortunately, the grand hotel was destroyed by fire in 1911, the day after the last of the summer guests had left. It was insured for $9,000.
A new hotel was built and it reopened in 1917 under the name "Dickinson Inn". It was sold and renamed "Geneva Beach Hotel" in 1930. It had accommodations for 100 persons with 32 large rooms and 8 large cottages. Rates were advertised at $25.00 per week in 1936. It was the scene of many conventions and social gatherings.
In 1942, the day before summer guests were scheduled to arrive, it was also destroyed by fire due to an over-heated chimney. The estimated loss was $20,000.
A new hotel was built and was sold to Robert and Evelyn Brown, who again brought the hotel to its former glory. The cottages were rebuilt and modernized with gas heat and electricity. The wooden boats were replaced with aluminum ones from the Alexandria Boat Works. Rental motors were also added. In 1948 the "cottage annex" was built, which is still a part of the resort today.
The hotel was demolished in 1971, but the resort is still a thriving summer destination. Two of the former cottages, the cottage annex, and three beautiful new lodges continue to attract summer guests from across the mid-west. The Sugarbush Lodge vacation home was opened in 2013 and sits on the original site of the hotel.
Since 1996, Geneva Beach Resort has been owned and developed by Tim and Carolyn Aarsvold.