Once upon a time, in the land of Regent, there was a squire by the name of Gary Greff, driven by a vision…a vision of mighty grasshoppers, 40-foot farmers, and pheasants built of metal and brawn.Greff later became the master craftsman behind the, now famous,
By Andy Roehl
Enchanted Highway; a collection of the world’s largest scrap-metal sculptures on a 32-mile stretch of highway in southwestern North Dakota. For the past 28 years, Greff has devoted his life, channeling his exuberant creativity, to expand upon his creations. In 2012, his imagination manifested into a hotel: The Enchanted Castle.
When the old school in Regent was put up for bid by the city, Greff saw this as an opportunity to bring something new to the area, and believed Regent needed a hotel considering the number of visitors that come to the region for hunting season every year. After winning the bid, Greff gutted the inside and, like any artist, started with a blank canvas. The only thing left from yesteryear was the gymnasium, preserved and maintained to its former glory.
When deciding on a theme for the hotel, he wanted something that complimented what was already established with his metal sculptures. “I thought, what ties in with ‘enchanted’? A medieval castle would fit North Daktota!” Said Greff.
After completing the laborious renovations, the building was lavishlyadorned with everything medieval, sparing no expense when it came to attention to detail. Every aspect of the hotel was given the royal treatment, including the amenities which present guests with hot tubs, fitness equipment, and a delightful breakfast chamber. Archaicdecorcharms the wallsas knights in armor grace the halls.There’s even an elegant fireplace that warms your welcome and really lights up the dark ages.
Greff’s manifestation of his imagination certainly continuedonthe outside of the hotel as the building was crowned with a full-fledged castle wall, complete with stone battlement, a moat, and a functioning draw bridge that would make King Arthur’s stronghold look like fadoodle.
Every room of the hotel is lovingly decorated and suited for the likes of a king and queen. “We want to treat our customers like royalty. That’s the goal!” Exclaimed Greff. No one feels like a peasant at the Enchanted Castle and weary travelers on their quests across North Dakota will find solace and satisfaction. Cozy standard rooms come with two queen-size beds, a microwave, and a refrigerator. You can always upgrade to a suite which comes with a bubbly hot tub. There’s also a luscious honeymoon suite where you can rightfully court your love in style.
Four years ago, Michael Perry, who hailed from Garrison, ND, was hired on as manager who worked closely with Greff to find new ways to expand the castle and make improvements in several aspects. A full-blown medieval tavern was established along with the Excalibur Steakhouse- all inside the castle. The tavern offers up specialty-cocktails and brews with a middle-age motif along with a scrumptious menu exclusive to the tiddlywink. Their signature rootbeer is always in high demand.There are also six high definition flatscreen tv’s on display for your viewing pleasure. This is not your average watering hole.
The Excalibur Steakhouse, a great hall where you can bust your buttons and stuff yourself silly, is nothing short of majestic. Perry, manager who also doubles as resident chef and bartender, is proud of the food the castle has to offer. “Everything is made here. Al the steaks, all the soups, all the sauces are homemade.” Said Perry. “We have exclusive menu items you can’t get anywhere else. You really get your money’s worth.” Perry meticulously prepares every dish and is passionate about the flavor and presentation. The chicken cordon bacon with cranberry butter topping alone would make the man in the iron mask rust at the mouth. Even if you’re not staying the night, the Excalibur Steakhouse and tavern are both available for everyone, fair maidens and noble knights alike! Just make sure you’re 21 if you visit the tavern.
Greff and Perry are constantly brainstorming new ideas and events that can be featured at the Enchanted Castle. Whether you want to have an ordinary time in an extraordinary place or want to party like its 1399, they believe that there’s something for everyone and always opportunity to grow and expand. Considering it coincides with the Enchanted Highway, arguably a staple attraction for the state, the castle holds a great potential for tourism. The fact that a full-on renaissance era castle hotel/restaurant/bar/and gym exists in rural southwest North Dakota is like something out of a fairytale, but it works and has not only had a positive reception, but an impact as well. Regent, a population of 160, is one of many very small towns in the state, but it sets itself apart from all the others. The allure of the Enchanted Castle has brought more tourism through the area bringing extra business not only to itself, but to the community as well. Without having some kind of allure, small towns,such as Regent, may be ill-fated to becoming something of the past. “[in small towns] Too many people are heading out, but not coming in.” Said Perry.
Greff’s priority is getting the most out of his passion to keep vitality within the region. Finding ways to keep things interesting and fresh has always been a challenge for Greff. “It’s the older generation’s responsibility to make things interesting for the younger generations to keep them here.” Said Greff. “We’re gonna keep upgrading and doing things to add to it.” Greff wants his work to inspire others to take some risks and express themselves.
The Enchanted Castle see’s no signs of slowing down. Greff himself is constantly on the move, working on something new day after day. Exciting plans for 2018 include the construction of two new, metal sculptures: a knight fighting a dragon right outside the front door. The structure will be approximately 60 feet tall. Guests can experience some thrills as the menacing dragon will literally breathe fire with bright, glowing eyes! Greff plans to put speakers inside the dragon so you will actually get to hear him roar as he fights the brave knight. It’s set to be a pretty epic show of art and entertainment.
Greff and Perry also want to accommodate more hunters for the area and plan to create an all-inclusive package for the hunting season. The package will include lodging, food, and more amenities yet to come exclusively for hunters.
In addition to their annual dodgeball tournaments, more events and upcoming feasts are being planned. And, of course, medieval themed conventions can find themselves at home at the Enchanted Castle. A 20-acre field is available for live action role playing, pitting make-believe armies of orcs, trolls, archers, and knights against each other in a battle royale! Afterwards, they can enjoy some victory mead in the tavern before retiring to their chambers for the evening. Or if you just want some excellent prime rib and rootbeer after a dip in the hot tub, you’re more than welcome to do that.
The Enchanted Castle is brimming with atmosphere and pampers you Middle-Earth style. Best of all its Black Plague free!
A lot of growth and expansion is underway and further into the future the Enchanted Castle aspires to become more of a living, breathing, interactive place to be. Greff and Perry hope to build a renaissance themed park complete with characters and shops. Although it may sound unrealistic, the castle itself already exists so more expansion isn’t so unbelievable.
“We’re not going to stop dreaming. We’re not going to stop constructing.” Said Perry.
You can find the Enchanted Castle at 607 Main St. Regent, ND 58650. Check them out at EnchantedCastle.com or give them a call at 701-563-4858. You can also like them on Facebook