Metro Detroit Mommy Blogger: Robin Slawnyk - CrunchyGoddess.com
My family and I had the amazing opportunity and experience to travel to Boyne Mountain this past weekend and spent 3 days at the beautiful Mountain Grand Lodge Resort and Spa. We went into this trip knowing absolutely nothing about skiing or any winter sports, and having never visited a four-seasons resort before. We were somewhat worried about how the trip would go with our two small children, 2.5 and 4 would go. Well, here is our adventure, and it's worth the read - I promise :)
I kept a little diary of the trip to share with you!
Day 1: Friday
We arrived at the Resort this evening and I am amazed at the beauty of this place. I mean ahh-mazed. Everything about this place is so charming, whimsical and wooden. Yes, wooden. The most beautiful wood furniture and details, everywhere. Love. It immediately feels like home, but not your own home - a home you dream of and wish you lived in. That home. And you feel that you really are in a dream home until you get a subtle reminder such as seeing the fire escape route plastered on "your" front door. Then you come back to reality for a minute. Our home for the weekend is room #312, a beautiful 1,300+ square foot suite with a full kitchen, living room w/ fireplace, 2 full bathrooms and 3 bedrooms including a 4-bed children's room designed like a castle! The kids are loving the castle and are currently pretending to be the Prince and Princess of some far-away land and enjoying every bit of that room. Our suite is called the Salzburg Suite and if you stay here with your little ones, I highly recommend booking one of these incredible suites. Well, off I go now - to enjoy some amazing Riesling with this breath-taking view of the mountain. I can't wait for tomorrow!
Day 2: Saturday
I'm pretty sure the kids woke up before the sun came out. I only say pretty sure because I was too comfortable in this amazing bed to open my eyes and look around. Luckily, they were so thrilled to be in their castle that they continued playing long enough for me to sleep a little longer :) We cooked a delicious breakfast of gluten free waffles with honey butter and fresh fruit in our full kitchen, complete with a dishwasher! This room is perfect for us, because we have chosen an organic lifestyle so we we can't enjoy the amazing food served here. Though very tempting to eat in one of the restaurants, we cooked our meals for the whole trip! After breakfast we were off for Skiing lessons. I remind you, none of us have ever been within a foot of a real ski slope, we had never seen skis in person and had no idea what we were getting into. Complete beginners. Despite this, the friendly staff helped us through the whole process and since we did an advance reservation, they already had the right size equipment out and ready for us to wear. It was a fast process and we were on the slopes in no time. Well, lots of time actually. Does anyone know how long it takes to actually learn to walk in ski boots?? :)
My Daughter Bella who just turned 4 was a student in a group lesson, where she had two great instructors and a few classmates that were the same age and also beginners. These instructors were so patient and loving toward the kids and really made the lesson fun! Bella had a hard time being separated from us to go to the class and her instructor stayed nearby, patiently waiting for her to be ready - and when she was, she had a great time! It was so awesome to watch her learn to ski and see how quickly she learned and grasped the concepts. This really is the perfect age to begin! She recited what she was taught this evening when she was re-capping the experience with us. She told us all about it with a big smile on her face and she was so proud of herself.
The kids lessons were the hi-lite of our entire trip. Watching them learn to ski when I had went into this vacation thinking there would not be much for them to do was awesome in itself. But to see how carefully and gently they were taught and instructed with such positive energy and excitement, how quickly they learned, how much they enjoyed themselves and how proud they were of themselves - it immediately became a priceless experience that I would love for them to re-live again and again. As for my Husbands lesson and my own, that was a different story - haha :)
So, my Husband decided to try his hand at snowboarding. Can we just take a moment and laugh about that? bahahaha. Ok, back to business. It was so cute to see him all geared up in his winterwear and big clunky boots. It was even more cute to see him try this sport. He had 2 instructors teaching him and he was doing great at first... until the falls came. Again and again. He took it like a champ but spent more time on the ground than on the board. Despite this, he did awesome and had a great time! I think he will try skiing next ;)
My lesson was likely the least successful but the most fun and funny. (It went a little somethin' like this) All of our lessons were going on at the same time so I was a little distracted because I was trying to watch the other 3 in their groups too. My instructors were great, of course - because they all were. Debbie is the one that didn't let me quit when I really. really wanted to. So I learned the basics, getting in and out of the skis, moving forward, stopping and starting. So we went up the magic carpet to begin our lesson. Wait, did I say I learned how to stop? Well, I totally lied. Because apparently I didn't. It became evident when I went up the magic carpet and immediately down the slope - very quickly and out-of-control-like. Oops! I tried to stop, I really did - but I totally didn't and took my first of many big falls. It didn't really hurt to fall but I was embarrassed, especially because my instructor was racing after me yelling the directions at me for how to stop my skis. "Push out with your heels! Make a wedge!" As he was pulling me up from the ground in a very encouraging manner, making sure I was ok, etc, he told me what I did wrong. He said "As soon as you started going, you leaned back (instead of forward) which caused you to pick up speed and then all of a sudden you began flailing your arms and wiped out" HAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Ok so I am not so good at this. Well, I still tried again. A couple of times and kept getting the same result. So, like a toddler mid-hill I un-snapped my boots from the boards and told Debbie I was done skiing, that I quit. She reminded me how well Bella was doing and that I wanted a new family sport and encouraged me to try again. I reluctantly agreed after she went through all of the steps again and told me that I was falling because I was too tense and nervous. She was right. When I tried again, I made it down the hill with no falls, I completed turns, slowing myself down and stopping. I felt so successful until I saw my little ones doing it with no sweat ;). I am so glad Debbie didn't let me quit because she ignited a whole new passion in me and I would absolutely LOVE to perfect this sport and go out skiing with my family. She's a new instructor there at SnowSports Academy and I am proud to be one of the first of many success stories she's going to have.
So, believe it or not - we all made it through our lessons. Afterward, we had a visit with Santa and then headed to Avalanche Bay - the Indoor Water Park. I have never worn a snow-suit and swim-suit in the same day before today!
This park is the best waterpark we have ever been to - indoor or outdoor, hands down. I looked at this park from many different perspectives. I considered every situation that could bring us there. There was something fun for every age group to enjoy. There was a slide for every age group and thrill level. Unlike any water park I have ever been to, they had a "big" slide that they allow you to ride down with your young child on your lap! There were a total of 6 slides including a small children's slides in the child splash area with a padded landing that broke their fall. I could not get my kids off this slide, that is until we discovered the big purple one - then we really couldn't peel them away! We also enjoyed the lazy river, the pool and the bigger slides. My favorite was the Vortex. I was totally too chicken to try out the new thrill slide, The Big Couloir, with a steep drop! You stand in an enclosed case-like thing and the floor DROPS away! Like gone! Then you shoot through a dark tunnel that goes outside the building and around! I totally wanted to be the trooper that gives you an awesome review on this slide but I couldn't do it - so someone that is brave enough will have to report back and let us know how it is! So this is the largest indoor waterpark in Michigan and I would vote it the absolute BEST, too! There are lots of great features, like this Rip Zone Surf Simulator, We had a great time in there, and us adults had just as much fun - if not more! than the kids. Until now I had been really excited to check out Great Wolf Lodge, but for our next indoor water park adventure we will absolutely come back to Avalanche Bay!
So as if we had not had enough adventure today, we came back for dinner and decided to venture out onto the grounds to check out shops and ride the horse drawn wagon. We then went to the "Family Movie" that the resort was showing downstairs. There was an option to roast s'mores over a roaring fire in the courtyard but we were all partied out and came back to our cozy beds. It has been an amazing day and there is so much excitement running through my head that I am sure I have somehow forgotten some amazing detail of the day. But, we have another fun-filled day planned for tomorrow so I'd better get my snooze on.
Day 3: Sunday
Well, I'm writing this from home. We are home. I am so happy that we are home safe but soo sooooo sad that we are home. I nearly cried when we left because I did not want to leave. I didn't want to leave our castle room, and the new friends we made. I didn't want to leave the cozy and relaxing environment and all of the amazing beauty. I did not want to leave all of the fun. Before I walked out of our room, I stood there and closed my eyes - trying to store every second of our trip into my memory bank. I hope I never forget a moment of it.
Anyway, back to our day. So this morning after breakfast we went down to the Solace Spa and got relaxing and indulgent pedicures. Hubby and I had 50 minute seasonal pedi's where we received the royal treatment by the amazing staff. Out littles received a mini-pedi and polish (with natural and vegan polish, of course!) we sipped refreshing cucumber water and enjoyed great conversation and relaxation. We decided to spend the rest of the day enjoying the grounds, shops, and to spend our time sight seeing. It was a blissful day and totally worth the drive.
So, the next time we come we definitely want to check out the golf course, zip-line adventures, snow-tubing and go back to the slopes and avalanche bay. We also want to be sure we get to swim in the indoor/heated outdoor pool and hot tubs! We will need a little bit more time so we will probably stay another night. I had absolutely NO IDEA how MUCH there was to do there beyond skiing! I was pleasantly surprised. It is a true four-seasons resort with so much beauty, so much adventure and so many activities to choose from. There is absolutely something for everyone and it was such a GREAT time! I am so glad and thankful that we went on this trip. It's hard to imagine that even though there is no snow in your own back yard, that there would be enough snow there to have an amazing winter adventure but there IS! I would encourage every one of you to give this incredible place a shot because there is something for every member of your family to enjoy - and who knows, you might leave with a new passion for a new sport, just like we did.
Oh suite, spa, mountain, shops, grounds, courtyard, pool, waterpark.... how I miss you already. I am back to reality and couldn't even wait to unpack my suitcase before I updated my last blog of the trip. I cannot wait to be back there, and will be counting down the days! I can't believe I went into this trip thinking there would not be a lot for my littles to do and wondering if we would enjoy it as much as we did. This was the best getaway we have had yet!
Here are some photos to enjoy from our trip! I will likely blog again with some of the history of the Boyne Resorts that I found intriguing and interesting. Michigan sure is lucky to have this gem and I am so glad we discovered it, and so eager for you to as well.
Here's to hoping I never forget ours! Cheers!
Metro Detroit Mommy Blogger: Robin Slawnyk
Robin is a busy Wife and Mom of 4 and owner of CrunchyGoddess.com . She considers herself a stay-at-home Mom even though she is a Photographer and Holistic Practitioner working in her community. Robin homeschools her children and leads a very natural and organic lifestyle. You might consider her the "crunchy" one of the group, as her focus will be on the natural products and services available to us and like-minded families.