Hotel Marshfield

Hotel Marshfield Design Story: Don’t Judge This Book By Its Cover

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Carla Minsky

The Unconventional Wisdom Behind One Independent Hotel’s Surprising Redesign

MARSHFIELD, Wis. (January 2014) – There’s a reason creative types are attracted to the ranks of independent hotels – it’s because they get to be creative and strategic, break the rules, and execute design and operations ideas that many of the brands and franchises just can’t pull off. On top of that, they get to see firsthand what good hotel design emanating from rock-solid market research can do to improve the psyche of a community.

Case in point: Hotel Marshfield, a surprisingly distinctive independent hotel in a quaint community smack dab in the middle of Wisconsin.

The Before Story: The hotel, built in the mid-1960s with several additions cobbled on over the years, was first an independent then a franchise then back to an independent when it succumbed to foreclosure, shuttering its doors in early 2012. The property went on the selling block at a sheriff’s auction in May of that same year and was purchased by local businessman Rick Roehl, president of Roehl Transport, who did not want to see the building stand vacant or worse. The owner brought on hotel development and management firm IDM Group, LLC, headquartered in Madison, Wis., to help transform the long-tired hotel into something everyone could be proud of – residents, employees and visitors.

The During Story: Two words – gut everything. The property was taken down to the studs, the floor plan was significantly reconfigured, and new furniture and fixtures were installed. The only things remaining entirely original to the building are the footprint, exterior walls and roofline. The renovation took a full year from  start-to-finish to complete.

The After Story: The hotel opened in early fall 2013 to oohhs and aahhs and instant bookings, thanks to the completely unexpected nature of the design. Word travels fast in a tight-knit community like Marshfield and in a friendly state like Wisconsin. Here’s the photo gallery.

The Facts:

  • Full-service boutique hotel featuring 99 rooms, nine of which are extended stay suites
  • New mechanicals in the public spaces plus Wi-Fi and new technology throughout the hotel
  • Lobby with central fireplace and alcoves for impromptu meetings
  • Interior courtyard with refurbished pool, plus new fire pit and surrounding patio large enough to seat 25
  • Four-season soak whirlpool, Swiss-barrel sauna and cool-down pool
  • Fitness center with views to the courtyard
  • Board room, meeting rooms, ballrooms, pre-function space, large enough to accommodate up to 500, specifically designed to deliver a better experience for the locals’ important gatherings
  • A fun restaurant and bar concept with casual public and private dining space for 100, created to serve an underserved market
  • Complimentary shuttle service, free Wi-Fi, breakfast included in overnight rate, free parking
  • Pet-friendly
  • Travel Green Wisconsin certified

Cosmopolitan Aesthetic Actually Works in Small Town America

  • While the low-slung roof, vertical windows and car-port entrance still signal its beginnings as a mid-century motel-style property, it’s what’s inside that counts. The dollars went into the interior design rather than leveling the property and starting over. This is a case study of upcycling” a building while creating an unexpected “wow” on the inside.
  • While you’d think an indoor pool would be important in this northern climate, the owners realized the space could be put to much better use for events and meetings. So the pool was filled in. Besides, the outdoor courtyard (see below) and a killer fitness center more than made up for it.
  • The outdoor courtyard, dubbed the Northwoods Backyard, has an out-west ski resort feel to it just on a smaller scale, with pool, fireplace, pergola and lots of seating. Plus, the two  whirlpools flanking the funky sauna designed  for use year-round give it an interesting twist.
  • The color palette of plum, cranberry, earthy brown and blue spruce is very cosmopolitan despite the fact that the hotel’s address is small town America.
  • While the design team drew on the history of the area for the interior design, they did it in a modern way as evidenced in the bold patterns of the carpet that are reminiscent of railroad tracks (the city has a storied rail history), the art-style photography of local landmarks, even the name and décor of the restaurant, Libby McNeill’s, named for a long-gone pickling factory.
  • The lobby is meant as a social space, beckoning guests to get out of their rooms and enjoy the open feel as well as the cozy alcoves with TVs. Plus the view to the courtyard from every angle gives it a big sense of space.
  • Furniture here takes on the look of sculpture – there are tufted leather benches in the lobbies, minimalist organic-style stools at the business center desk, and all-different-sized leather half rounds in the pre-function space that double as seating and tabletops.
  • When it’s time to turn in, guests are treated to a stellar sleep experience with pillow-top beds and high-end pillows.
  • For anyone who wouldn’t think of leaving home without their dog, they’re in luck – this independent hotel is pet-friendly with a cute doggie treat area at the entrance.

Lesson learned: Just because you live in a small community in the Midwest doesn’t mean you don’t deserve a proper urban-chic hotel. Residents are immensely proud of this property. In turn, that sentiment helped attract employees, the vast majority of whom are locals, who are very proud to work at Hotel Marshfield.

Hotel Marshfield · 2700 S. Central Avenue · Marshfield, WI 54449 · 855.583.2700 ·

The Design and Construction Team

-Architect: Dimension IV Madison Design Group, Madison (

-Interior Design: Innvision Design, Atlanta, Georgia (

-General Contractor: Don Nikolai Construction, Inc., Marshfield

-Pool Contractor: Poolblu, Lake Geneva (

About IDM Group, LLC

IDM Group manages more than 1,200 guest rooms at 14 independent properties around the Midwest and employs just over 500 people. The firm was founded in 1999 and has never strayed from its niche of developing and managing independent hotels, many of them boutique properties.  Current clients include the ultra-modern HotelRED in Madison, Wis.; historic Hotel Julien Dubuque in downtown Dubuque, Iowa, which underwent a $33 million renovation; and the Hotel Vandivort in Springfield, Missouri, a former Masonic temple set to open as a high-end property in 2014. IDM Group is headquartered in Madison, Wis. and may be found on the web at The phone number is 608.819.3063.