Former Hugh Hefner Property Celebrates 25 Years Under Marcus Ownership

By Len Ziehm

This is a milestone year for Grand Geneva Resort and Spa, which is already a place with an interesting history.

The current milestone being celebrated is the 25th anniversary of the resort’s ownership by Milwaukee-based Marcus Corporation. Marcus bought what was then called the Americana Resort in 1981, and that came after Chicago-based Americana Hotels Corporation had taken over what was originally the Playboy Club-Hotel.

Hugh Hefner had created the Playboy Club concept, opening his first facilty in Chicago in 1960. Hefner, amidst much fanfare, expanded into the resort world when the Lake Geneva location opened in 1968.

The Playboy Club-Hotel thrived for a while but eventually was no longer considered a trendsetter in sex, sophistication or entertainment. That led to financial trouble and the sale to Americana. Americana rebranded as more of a family destination and thrived for a while, too, before encountering its own financial problems. That prompted the sale to Marcus. More