Southeast Wisconsin was home to one of the first Playboy clubs

Posted at 7:51 PM, Sep 28, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-29 08:59:27-04

Hugh Hefner leaves behind an enormous legacy with one of the most iconic brands in American history. 

It's a history that had some of its beginnings in Southeast Wisconsin with the first American Playboy Club and Hotel in Lake Geneva.

"It was the first one," said Steve Magnuson, Managing Director of Grand Geneva Resort and Spa . "Hugh Hefner was set out to create a lifestyle branded hotel."

Magnuson runs the same location Hefner owned. However, things are much different now than they were nearly 50 years ago when Hefner turned the 1,300-acre farmland into a destination. 

"He created the resort right here out of this beautiful glacier carved property," Magnuson said. "It ran as the Playboy Club from 1968 to 1982. It was designed for couples. It wasn't a singles place."

While the adult side of things may have changed, the Grand Geneva Resort hold onto some of their Playboy past with memorabilia for guests to check out. 

But it went even deeper than that for them. They employed some former "bunnies" and other employees from the Playboy Club who have only recently retired.

They also shared a similar vision. 

"His vision was to create this resort as a destination," Magnuson said. "That was our vision as well."

Lots of Chicago residents call Lake Geneva a second home. So the Playboy Club truly was a destination for people from Hugh Hefner's Hometown.

"He had a number of clubs in the United States but this was the most successful in the Midwest," Magnuson said. "It's a destination resort, a couple hours from Chicago and Milwaukee. It's a great location."