Hospitality is a passion for Bill and Bridget.

Bill is a third generation innkeeper, checking in his first guest when he was 12 years old. Bill grew up in Worthington, MN working and living at his family’s roadside Best Western. He was at the knee of his father and grandfather as he learned the business at his grandfather’s motels in LaMars, Sibley, Denison, and Sheldon, IA.

Bill and his sister, Deb, purchased the Best Western from their father in 1996, then sold it in 2000. Since then, Bill has worked a variety of construction jobs in Minnesota, South Dakota, and Colorado until purchasing The Oakwood Inn with his wife, Bridget in the spring of 2016.

Bridget grew up in Wells, MN. Her first career was a journalist for Minnesota newspapers in the Minneapolis suburbs, Canby, and Fergus Falls areas. After 10 years, Bridget changed course and began her 20-year hospitality career, starting in Minnesota at the Best Western Fergus Falls, the Rochester Holiday Inn City Center, Rochester Marriott, and The Kahler Grand Hotel. She moved to Colorado with Starwood Hotels, where she worked at the Sheraton Steamboat Resort and met Bill. They returned to the Midwest to get married at their favorite destination – Okoboji, IA.

After several more years in Steamboat Springs, Bill and Bridget moved with Starwood Hotels to Glenwood Springs, CO, where Bridget was part of the executive committee opening The Westin Snowmass Resort and Wildwood Snowmass outside Aspen, CO. Her most recent assignment for Starwood Hotels was in Houston, TX, working for The Westin Galleria & Westin Oaks hotels.

Bill and Bridget fulfilled a shared life-long dream in 2016, when they purchased The Oakwood Inn in Spirit Lake, IA.

Another passion for Bridget is real estate. Are you looking for a lake home in the Lake Okoboji area? Bridget would be happy to assist! A Realtor licensed in Iowa and Minnesota, Bridget’s personal experience in buying and selling real estate in four states will help you to feel confident when navigating the Iowa Great Lakes real estate market. Download her app to search for your NextHome at the Lakes!


The Oakwood Inn was originally part of an 80-acre homestead in rural Dickinson County, with West Lake Okoboji and East Lake Okoboji access just one mile away on each side. In 1999, the current building was built with a Victorian flair and was operated as The Wild Rose Inn. It was sold in 2014 and after some renovation, became known as The Hotel Okoboji, an extended stay property.

Bill and Bridget Johnson purchased the property in April 2016 and changed the name to The Oakwood Inn after the oak tree savannah bordering the property to the south. They updated the guest rooms and added The Den in 2018. They continue to enhance the two-acre property’s expansive gardens.