Friede News & Updates

Building the Ultimate Spa: Sundara Woodland Retreats & Quiet Room

[fa icon="calendar"] Feb 12, 2019 7:23:00 PM / by Scott G. Truehl

Scott G. Truehl


Wisconsin Dells | Sundara Inn & Spa | Friede & AssociatesFriede & Associates had the recent opportunity to add to what we—and our client and their guests—believe is the ultimate Midwestern spa. When Sundara Inn & Spa at the Wilderness Resort in Lake Delton opened 15 years ago, it quickly became one of the true gems in the state of Wisconsin. Rated not only one of the top spas in the Midwest and the U.S., it also ranks one of the top spa destinations in the world by the readers of Travel + Leisure Magazine. Our recent work there involved the new construction of woodland retreats and a quiet room designed to build on that legacy.

Sundara worked with Friede & Associates, and its design partner General Engineering, to create two four-unit buildings set apart from the main resort. Designed to take advantage of an elevated wooded ridge that runs behind the existing spa and alongside the executive golf course, the 4,000-square-foot units feature private balconies and large custom-built outdoor hot soak tubs with adjacent fireplaces. The setting is spectacular and offers stunning views. Inside, the units can be utilized as either one- or two-bedroom units, and offer a large great room, complete with a wet bar, dining area, and designer showers. One amazing enhancement is the elevated 80-foot skywalk providing an indoor connection to the main building.

Maximizing the Treasures of the Site

Sundara Inn & Spa | Friede & AssociatesThe project team worked most of the summer and early fall with Sundara staff during the design process to create the units and to find the most economical bridge system for the building connector. Special attention was paid to the actual location of the buildings to maximize the views and the sense of privacy that guests would expect and enjoy.

Friede crews began the site work just before Thanksgiving. By mid-December, we began the installation of the massive footings and foundations required for the first building because of its exposed basement. The large basement was needed for Sundara staff to service the large private soak tubs. The project team worked together with Neumann Pools to locate most of the aquatic equipment in a mechanical room under the first building.

This would allow pool maintenance equipment and any pool chemicals to be delivered via a service road located below the units, thus reducing the possibility of guest interruption. This service road would also provide emergency access for fire and EMS services to this relatively remote location.

Once the concrete work was completed on the first building, the wall framing began. The Friede team once again chose to utilize a wall panel system that could be constructed off-site to reduce both the construction time and costs. By mid-February, the first building was enclosed and watertight and interior work had commenced.

Construction of the second building was designed to begin approximately one month after the first to allow both concrete and carpentry crews to be working simultaneously. One of the challenges of building through the winter was the need to reduce the exposure of large parts of the buildings to the elements. So, all subcontractors were scheduled in a manner that allowed smaller excavation tasks and other building projects to be completed to minimize winter conditions and costs.

Sundara Skywalk Bridge | Wisconsin Dells | Friede & Associates

The Skywalk Bridge Comes in Spring

In early March, the skywalk bridge system was delivered, and a three-story tower structure was assembled on the eastern end of the main spa building. Once the wall panels were assembled around the bridge structure, the sections of the skywalk were lifted into place and connected to both the building and the hallway of the retreat units. Once the interior finishes were completed, the Friede crews broke through the third-floor wall to allow for the interior connection from the new units to the main spa building.

The hot soak pools were then installed and completed in early June, and the first four suites were turned over for occupancy. A month later, the remaining units were completed. 

Sundara Inn & Spa Hot Tub | Friede & AssociatesOnce the retreat units were completed, the project team focused their attention on completing an additional new amenity to the spa—a 1,200-square-foot reflection room or quiet room. This multi-purpose room can be used for special events, yoga classes, or for the enjoyment of spa guests wanting to take in the wildlife and beautiful woodland while nestled in cozy chairs. Through large glass windows, guests can enjoy the adjacent pine forest. This space was completed at the end of July and became an instant hit with guests who marvel at the up-close look they get at the many deer that inhabit the forest and wander into Sundara’s viewing area.

The $3.7 million project was completed in July 2018. The project took advantage of a panelized wall system which allowed Friede crews to self-perform nearly 40 percent of the project, all while building through the winter months. Despite the challenges of constructing these units while enduring Wisconsin’s frigid winter, we’re proud to have completed this project in just eight months.

EDITOR'S NOTE: We are thrilled to announce that the Sundara Woodlands Retreat & Quite Room project has just earned the 2018 ABC of Wisconsin Projects of Distinction Gold Award for the New Commercial Construction Category.

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Topics: Lake Delton, Sundara Woodland Retreats, Wilderness Resort

Scott G. Truehl

Written by Scott G. Truehl

Executive Vice President & Partner—With more than 30 years of experience in site selection and commercial development, Scott is responsible for assisting clients with not only their project development, but also their site analysis/acquisition, municipal approval and development needs. Scott is an active member and presenter at the international Construction Leadership Network and is a speaker at both national and state contracting conferences on topics including: creating a positive corporate culture; marketing construction services; design-build construction; and working with Realtors and developers. He also routinely participates in “Meet the Generals” programs around the state of Wisconsin and speaks to hundreds of trade contractors each year on how to effectively work with general contractors. For more than three decades, Scott has served the Wisconsin community in various roles: as a city councilman in Madison and Stoughton, as well as on numerous municipal boards, committees and economic development commissions.

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