The lodge has had a varied and interesting career as Colonial Williamsburg's largest hotel. Conceived as more affordable and less formal than the inn, it was given a name meant to evoke snug and informal accommodation associated with woodland parks. National Park Service head Horace Albright recommended Gilbert Stanley Underwood, known for his flamboyantly rustic Ahwahnee Lodge at Yosemite, to work with Perry, Shaw and Hepburn. Underwood's initial design is said to have resembled the Wren Building, so William Perry took over the exterior scheme, and the consultant was reduced to producing elegant neoclassical designs for bronze stair fittings and countless construction drawings. The collaboration produced a building that, in scale and materials, looks at home beside the historic area but incorporates details not found there, such as paired windows and quoins. Additions after World War II and in 1957 continued in this mode and in a more literal historicism.
Spencer and Lee of San Francisco, who had designed stylish hotel buildings for Jackson Hole, Wyoming, were hired in 1961 to plan expansion of the lodge into a conference center with additional rooms. Their work includes stylized references to eighteenth-century Virginia buildings—oversized brick arcades, large expanses of hardwood paneling, and chinoiserie frets—as well as an oversized Virginia Room, lighted by a vast fixture resembling the Starship Enterprise. David Warren Hardwicke planned the auditorium in 1967. Eldridge T. Spencer also designed the west wing, visible from Colonial Parkway, as two curving blocks with an unusual skin of timber frame and gray weatherboards. Much less delicate are a sports center and group of three-story brick buildings to the south, with inset balconies, by Juster, Pope, Frazier.