meet the Team
Heidi zimmer, founder
On her first visit to beautiful Bayfield, Wisconsin, Michigan native Heidi Zimmer began dreaming about developing a retreat center on the shores of Lake Superior. Through continued conversation with area artists and influencers over the last five years, the idea of Wild Rice Retreat bloomed.
Heidi is an experienced real estate developer with a compassionate and creative approach to land stewardship and development. In addition to being committed to artistic excellence, she has a deep appreciation of and connection to the Great Lakes, fine arts, music, dance and nature, along with a passion about one's living and working environment.
Heidi has been an avid yoga practitioner since 2006, studying styles including Ashtanga, Hatha, Yin, and Vinyasa. She is passionate about creating nurturing and artistic spaces to develop the mind, body and spirit. Her vision for Wild Rice Retreat includes the development of the surrounding 100-acre woods with unique and sustainable lodging options, nature trails and spaces for meditation and spiritual growth. Heidi believes in the restorative power of nature and the importance of purposeful design and a powerful sense of place.
Heidi lives in Minneapolis with her teenage daughters and husband Martin Ebelhardt, co-founder of Wild Rice Retreat’s parent organization, Superior Living Arts.
jennifer albrecht, director
Jennifer Albrecht was born and raised in Bayfield and approaches her work with a lifelong passion for Lake Superior and the great Northwoods.
Jennifer credits her father, the late Don Albrecht, with instilling a love and appreciation of the arts: dance, theater, opera, music, and visual arts. At Wild Rice Retreat, she blends this love with dedication to making a positive impact on her hometown community through active involvement, an admiration for the healing power of mindfulness, and a powerful sense of place.
Jennifer has maintained an active yoga practice since 2001 and is also a runner, adventure-seeker, lifelong learner, and perpetual student of the human condition.
MARTIN EBELHARDT, CO-FOUNDER
Martin Ebelhardt developed an interest in teaching wellness during a career in federal law enforcement. His interest in wellness was born in the late 1980’s when he began to study Aikido, a martial art which focuses on achieving harmony through the re-direction of force. He has also studied Ashtanga and Yin Yoga, has read extensively on eastern and western healing disciplines, and has a special interest in posture and movement therapy. Since 2005, he has studied and practiced Chinese healing arts including Tai Chi Chuan and Qigong.
In addition to his experiences as an instructor and senior leader, Martin’s study of the martial and healing arts, and in academia, has led him to believe that human growth and development stems from an inexorable link between the internal self and the outside world. As such, he maintains that art, in its many forms, is a foundational and necessary element for both human and societal health, healing, and well-being.
Martin also possesses a deep appreciation and connection to nature, believes that human health and the health of the planet are indivisible and synergistically linked, and that it is essential to respect the land and natural resources which sustain all life.
He lives in Minneapolis with his wife Heidi Zimmer, Founder of Superior Living Arts and two step-daughters, Sarah and Molly.
Annalisa Bermel, development consultant
Annalisa developed deep roots and a connection to the Bayfield area through childhood summers spent boating the Apostle Islands with her family. With a background in branding and marketing, her passion has always been to create unique and inspiring experiences through thoughtful real estate development. To that end, Annalisa recently helped to develop a 120-year old historic warehouse building in the North Loop of Minneapolis, bringing it back to life as an experiential boutique lodging, restaurant, and social club known as the Hewing Hotel.
After years of branding and developing real estate projects for clients in markets nationwide, Annalisa and her husband have planted their feet as full time Bayfield residents, embracing their lifelong dream of starting a lavender farm and raising their two daughters in the Bayfield community.
Annalisa discovered a special place in her life for yoga practice and meditation during both of her pregnancies. She aspires to someday become a certified instructor in order to help other mothers find the same joy and connection through yoga.
Jenna Erickson, programming consultant
An entrepreneur and visual artist, Jenna Erickson brings her many talents in recruiting world-renowned artist instructors to Wild Rice Retreat. Jenna served for many years as the director of programming for a nationally recognized art school and played a direct role in the successful development of the school’s winter workshop programs in the southwestern United States.
Connecting instructors and guests with the beauty of the Chequamegon Bay area has long been a part of Jenna’s work and passion. Jenna facilitates these connections between travelers and artists through her work with OpenAir Places, a business she founded featuring unique places to stay in Bayfield, Wisconsin and Grand Bahama Island as well as international artist travel retreat locations.
Following a car accident injury in 2016, Jenna found yoga as a form of relief from pain and stress. She practices ButiYoga, a powerful blend of tribal dance and movements, plyometrics, and vinyasa-style yoga. Through yoga, Jenna has developed an appreciation as part of a tribe of empowered women who support each other in their quest for health and happiness.
Jenna lives with her two children in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Watch for her soon-to-debut cookbook Lunch Bouquets featuring a collection of her own lunch ideas and photography inspired by her children’s daily lunch preparation.
nick lunde, wine steward
Nick loves to talk wine. Throughout the lifetime of the Wild Rice Restaurant, you could find Nick behind the bar, ready to recommend a wine or offer insight on the various tasting notes of a particular wine. Nick brings that enthusiasm and knowledge to Wild Rice Retreat.
Nick is a long-time resident of the Chequamegon Bay area and loves to take in nature while biking. He enjoys trying new restaurants, is a third degree black belt, and has danced on stage with Prince. Nick aims to stay on top of his wine knowledge and share that information with others.
LARS DUKOWITZ, KITCHEN MANAGER / RESIDENT COOK
As a highly skilled and renowned chef, Lars shares his talents with Wild Rice Retreat guests through the preparation of small bites, retreat meals, and special occasion indulgences. Lars focuses on using locally-sourced ingredients whenever possible, finding inspiration for both flavor pairings and beautifully plated dishes from nature and the beauty of Lake Superior.
Lars served as the Chef De Cuisine in the Wild Rice Restaurant for many years and was part of the team recognized with a nomination for a James Beard award. In addition to his work in the kitchen at Wild Rice Retreat, Lars also works with the Don R. and Carole Larson Food Lab within the Hulings Rice Food Center on the Northland College campus and shares his love and knowledge of simple yet beautiful cooking through his school, Cooking with Lars.
RANDY ANDERSON, FACILITIES COORDINATOR
As the former front of house manager for Wild Rice restaurant, Randy brings his knowledge of great hospitality, the Bayfield community, and the piece of art that is now Wild Rice Retreat. Wild Rice Retreat relies on Randy’s knowledge of the buildings, spaces, and grounds and his ability to assist with the upkeep of the grounds, trails, facilities, and overall beautiful space.
When not assisting with maintenance, set-up, or facility needs at Wild Rice Retreat, Randy continues his practice of creating beautiful works of whimsy in his home art studio.
david salmela, salmela architects, master wild rice retreat designer
David’s architectural practice is located in Duluth, Minnesota. His work is rooted in the principal of modernism as well as the founding influence of the vernacular of Minnesota’s immigrants. Most of his work exists from the northeast tip of the arrowhead’s wilderness, down the eastern edge of Minnesota to Lake Pepin.
Since 1985, his projects have won 13 AIA Minnesota Honor Awards, two American Wood Council Awards and in 1998 brought an Architectural Records Record Houses Award for the Emerson Residence and a National AIA Honor Award for Architecture for the Brandenburg’s Ravenwood Studio. His work has been featured in over 60 articles in regional, national, and international journals, books, and publications.
TRAVIS VAN LIERE, TVL STUDIOS, LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT
Travis and his team create innovative and transformative landscape architecture through the integration of landscape, art, architecture and ecology that is ingrained in context, clarity, craft and collaboration.
Travis Van Liere Studio’s designs focus on the relationships between design intent, materiality and sustainability, bringing extensive innovation, detail craft, and methodology to diverse projects of various types and scales.
The studio’s goal is to promote landscape architecture as a leader in our profession by creating designs that are functional, engaging and environmentally sustainable. We are a practice dedicated to design innovation, research and refinement. The landscapes we create are simple, distinct and beautiful.
Travis’ team is committed to a culture of collaboration between clients and design disciplines, and the long-term environmental stewardship of our landscapes.