Tucked among the trees, on a high hilltop overlooking the 28 Mile Marker of the Lake of the Ozarks, the old Swiss Village has been renewed.
Built in 1930, Swiss Village (formerly known as the Hildebrand Resort) was a humble spot with a killer view of Lake of the Ozarks. Small cabins served as rentals for early vacationers, and down the hill, on the shore, swimmers plunged into what some say was the first “lakefront pool” at Lake of the Ozarks: a tiny, roped-off inlet!
The 10 cabins, built and owned by the Hildebrand family, were small. But that aligned with most vacationers’ limited incomes in the Lake’s earliest days. Located off Hwy KK, the cabins sat atop a hill surrounded by Ozark hardwoods that gave a sense of truly "getting away from it all." (View a map and directions to Swiss Village.)
However, in recent years, some the cabins were looking worse for the wear: some had fallen into disrepair, and the low, flat roofs (some of the cabins had seven-foot ceilings!) made the spaces seem small and cramped.
Trevor Bechtold, though, had a vision for Swiss Village. His family had owned one of the cabins for years—he grew up near there in a house he and his brother Jeremy had helped their father, David, build. The boys learned the construction trade from their dad, who taught at Camdenton School District’s building trades program for years. Trevor, now an architect, looked at the old Swiss Village cabins and, having loved the one they renovated, decided to start buying up the rest.
He and business partner Jason Lewis bought the units, one at a time, and the renovation process began. Trevor and Jason met nearly 18 years ago when they joined the KU Waterski Team. “We developed a quick friendship, and this project gave us a reason to get back together often and stay in touch,” Trevor said.
The renovation of Swiss Village was no “slap a new coat of paint on it and recaulk the showers” gig. They jackhammered out the old foundations—which had been laid without rebar—and poured new ones. They vaulted the roofs on the flat-topped units, adding a quaint upstairs bedroom and porch to one. The exteriors were preserved, with the original rock and masonry, and even the oak tree that now grows through the deck of one unit. The cabins’ interiors were gutted and restored, now with structural soundness and decor that somehow synthesizes “lake” and “modern” and “vintage,” with a touch of "Swiss." Each unit has a full kitchen—with just the right amenities for the space. Small, retro refrigerators squat next to two-burner induction stoves and, of course, a farmhouse sink. These cabins are a far cry from the 5,000-square-foot, sprawling lakefront homes you’ll find on VRBO; but that’s what they’re meant to be: cozy spaces, with the reminder that you didn’t come to the Lake to stay inside.
HISTORIC CABIN #4:
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“My passion for design paired with his real estate investment know-how and successful entrepreneur skills has given us a great partnership and a place where we can come from both sides of the map to meet up for fun times with our families!” Trevor enthused.
It was a labor of love, and the labor was mighty. But this summer, The Old Swiss Village opened as an AirBnB community. It sits at the bottom of Linn Creek Bend in the Lake, allowing a three-mile panoramic view: excellent for fireworks, sunsets, and just sitting and watching. Well manicured lawns surround each cabin, and across the driveway is a green, expansive, shared lawn: perfect for bocce ball, baseball, or whatever other play is called for on vacation. And behind the lawn: Michael’s Steak Chalet.
“We couldn’t have done it without the support of our families and our right hand guys, David Bechtold (who did a little—or a lot—of everything) & Donnie Christian (who helped build the cabins and manages the grounds),” Trevor said, adding, “Our wives, the Lindsays (both from Iowa and with the same name, no this was not planned) put together the interior décor for all of the cabins.”
While The Old Swiss Village was undergoing its renewal, Michael’s—the Lake’s long-time, much-loved fine-dining restaurant, and the original Lodge for the cabin community—was adding on, too. On the edge of the Swiss Village lawn, behind the pool, Michael’s built a new wine-tasting room, adding to the all-inclusive nature of a weekend, or week-long, vacation.
The Old Swiss Village renewal has been well-received. In its first year, the cabins stay booked weeks in advance. One woman traveled all the way from California: she stayed in the cabins more than 40 years ago, and returned to stay at them again, now renewed for another generation of vacationers.