Hazy future for famous lodge
by Chuck Anderson and Peter Burke | Press Banner |
Nov 01, 2007 | 375 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print

The once-grand Brookdale Lodge, grown ragged around the edges in recent decades, could be headed for a renaissance — or maybe not quite — after its sale by owners Bill and Lee Ann Gilbert for $5.34 million.

Long known for a dining room straddling a babbling brook, eclectic musical performances and ghostly happenings, the legendary lodge faces an unknown future.

The new owner is Rajiv Kakkar, an experienced Bay Area hotelier, whose intentions are an open question.

Employees said the computer and telephone systems are scheduled to be replaced and live music is on its way out. Most workers plan to stay on, although some long-timers are departing.

“It’s gonna be a weird change,” said bartender Lynn Leland, who is leaving the lodge after 15 years.

“I’m gonna miss the place.”

In its heyday, the hostelry was widely known and admired. It had been visited by Marilyn Monroe, President Herbert Hoover, Shirley Temple and other famous figures.

The lodge still trades on that legend, but today the clientele is not so famous. While scores of out-of-town guests still dine or spend the night, area residents also have complained about motorcycle clubs and drug users frequenting the 6.8-acre grounds.

Reviews on Internet travel Web sites over the past few years reflect spotty treatment of guests and less-than-consistent food quality in the lodge’s single most well-known feature, the Brookroom dining room.

Additionally, some of the original log cabin-style buildings are shuttered and uninhabitable. The once-famed Mermaid Room and its underwater window into the indoor swimming pool is closed, as is the pool.

Behind the Highway 9 façade, a complex crowded with small apartments provides affordable housing for working-class renters including hotel employees.

These days, the lodge has been better known as one of the area’s three major music venues. Recent performers included Cubensis, a Grateful Dead tribute band, and The Tubes, a San Francisco rock band highly popular in the 1970s and ’80s.

The David Nelson Band notes on its Web site that its Nov. 17 country rock show “will be the last concert to take place at Brookdale Lodge as new owners will be taking over and have other plans for the place.”

The Gilberts, real estate investors from Woodside, had owned Brookdale’s largest enterprise since 1989, when they bought it for $1.8 million following winter floods that damaged the Brookroom and much of the valley.

They reportedly have invested $1 million into improvements but more recently decided to concentrate on other projects. They put the lodge up for sale in May.

Kakkar reportedly had tried for several years to acquire the lodge and, although his bid was lower than the asking price of $5.45 million, the Gilberts gave him the nod. Real estate agent Harry Altick said there were several other offers at full price.

Melanie Gilbert, granddaughter of the sellers and manager of the lodge, did not return phone calls.

The lodge’s most enduring legend is paranormal. In the 1940s and ’50s, legend has it that gangsters inhabited the lodge. During this era, Sarah Logan, 6, drowned in the Brookroom creek.

There have been numerous reported sightings of a ghost resembling Sarah in various areas of the lodge.

Also, in 1972, a 13-year-old girl reportedly drowned in the Mermaid Room pool, and voices and music have been heard in the room when no one else is there.

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