Longtime resort offers the best in accommodations and scenery
By Jillian Chandler
First opened by the Elkins family in 1932 as a summer fishing camp, today, Ekins Resort on Priest Lake is a year-round paradise.
Purchased in 1983 by Bob and Sharon Davis, daughter Tracie began working for her parents that first summer of operations. Fast forward four years, and Mike Syzbnski, a soon-to-be senior at Gonzaga University, decided to take his final summer before focusing on his career and spend it working at Priest Lake. He was hired on at Ekins Resort, where he and Tracie would meet—later the two would marry. The couple would become co-owners of the resort in 1995.
Sitting along the sandy shores of Idaho’s Crown Jewel, Priest Lake, Elkins Resort has earned the reputation as the finest year-round vacation destination in the Northwest and one of the best resorts in the West!
Guests will be treated to the amazing views of the Selkirk Mountains and Chimney Rock when visiting the resort. Lodging features individual cabins that sleep anywhere from two to 14 guests, all with full kitchens, bathrooms, living areas and satellite TV. “Our individual cabins set us apart from most resorts, as couples, families or groups enjoy quality time together,” says Tracie.
Moorage and water rentals round out the amenities at Elkins Resort. During the summer months, explore Priest Lake with any of the boat rentals, including pontoon boats, runabouts, whalers, stand-up paddle boards, canoes and kayaks. The summer and early fall months are also ideal for hiking or mountain biking the area trails, engaging in a great round of golf, swimming, fishing or sunbathing. And when in season, don’t miss the opportunity for some huckleberry or mushroom picking.
There is also a full-service restaurant onsite, which focuses on both quality of food and service. Here, Head Chef Graham Byxbee delivers delicious cuisine that looks as good as it tastes! In addition to the long-time favorites of Pepper Steak and Herb-Encrusted Halibut, Graham is in charge of developing new favorites and ensuring an unforgettable dining experience in an unbeatable setting. Currently open during weekends, the restaurant is open daily June through September. The restaurant is open to not only guests staying at the resort but visitors who are looking to enjoy an unforgettable meal.
When the Davises first purchased the property nearly four decades ago, “It was pretty basic,” laughs Tracie. All but two of the log cabins on the resort were originals, built in the late ‘20s and early ‘30s. The cabin floors were covered with parquet linoleum squares, the space heated with oil stoves, and metal-framed spring beds were the norm. Over the years, and with Mike leading the way, the cabins would be updated, expanded and beautified.
“Mike is the driving force behind Elkins Resort,” affirms wife Tracie. “His sense of vision and determination is what has made Elkins Resort what it is today.”
It is seeing the smiles on happy customers’ faces that fills Tracie with joy and fulfillment, knowing that she and her team had a part in creating and maintaining a wonderful place for friends and families to come together and spend quality time with one another in this year-round playground.
Tracie is grateful for not only the guests, but the community in which she lives and works. “The people here are genuinely nice,” she says. “Our community still waves as we drive past each other, stops to say hello and helps each other out when needed. It doesn’t matter if it is an individual, family or business that needs help.”
At the end of the day, Tracie is proud of the service she and her team provide and the memories they help create. When asked what is most rewarding to her, she replies, “Making customers happy.” And that’s what she’s been doing for nearly four decades—and will continue doing for many more years to come.
If you are looking for a place to disconnect from the busy world and enjoy the beauty of North Idaho, Elkins Resort is waiting. And if you are in need of that ideal location to host a larger gathering, such as a family reunion, wedding or retreat, let Tracie and her team help in creating the perfect event.
Be sure to call ahead for lodging or dining reservations.
Elkins Resort on Priest Lake
404 Elkins Road
Nordman, Idaho 83848