Sunday, July 3, 2011

Grizzly Jack's Resort Review

We spent two days at Grizzly Jack's Resort in Utica, IL. It's off 80 - if you are going to Starved Rock, it's the same exit. Admission to the indoor waterpark and amusement park are included with any overnight stay. Please see below for a detailed review.
  • Gorgeous area - it reminds me a lot of Grayling, MI (which is 5 hours away and this only and hour and a half) or OLD Frankfort. Speed limit is 40mph, farms, etc.
  • We checked in and staff was pleasant. The only thing I didn't understand was that they held 40% of your room total on your credit card for other expenses. I can see providing a credit card to charge other expenses but to actually hold your account - that bothered me. The way I understood it that 40% is in addition to your room costs. So basically we had $1100 being held on our credit card. I don't get out much so maybe this is now standard in the hospitality field.
  • We got into our room and unpacked. But had to call the front desk for bug spray because there were a bunch of ants on the counter and on the side of the fridge feasting. I don't mind ants but we had brought a bunch of snacks and didn't want to have to toss everything later. An employee came rather quickly and although he was nice his attitude was that we are in the woods and this is how it is. I agree but feel had the fridge been properly cleaned in the first place the ants would not be having a party there. He started sprinkling an ant killer powder, which is not safe around my almost 2-yr-old. My husband pulled the fridge out from the space since this man had not. "Oh yeah. There is a bunch of stuff back here. When you check out, I'll have the housekeepers clean this." Oh. Well shouldn't they clean it now, I thought to myself.
  • Ten minutes later we see a roach walking across the kitchen floor. I call again. And put a bowl over the roach so when the staff person arrives they can take a look. Adam and I have have seen our share of roaches so we were pretty confident that it was a roach. We called back and asked to be moved to another room. They sent the head of housekeeping to our room. She was so nice. She did say the bug was just a beetle but you never really forget what a roach looks like so...this was my response. "Well it's not like we are from the city. I mean my husband and I have seen our share of roaches." What kind of thing is that to say!? I have such pride that we moved from the city and before I knew it I acted like I never owned a pair of city shoes. But I was embarrassed. I used to work at a hotel and since that experience I never wanted to be a high maintence guest. I had been there 20 minutes and felt like one. I was also annoyed because over the last two hours we packed the car, unpacked in our lodge, then repacked and now have to unpack again. But I had to change my attitude. So I said, "Thank you for being so nice about everything. I feel bad that we are moving because I know since having worked at a hotel, your staff has to re-clean this room just because we set foot in it. And they probably just finished cleaning it." Her response was awesome: "We don't mind at all. This is how we keep our jobs - taking care of guests."
  • The resort has a shuttle or train that picks up guests and takes them wherever they wish - waterpark, amusement park, etc. It was very convenient and of course a huge hit with the boys.
  • We went Tuesday through Thursday so the resort was pretty ghost town-ish. Worked out well for my kids because they were more comfortable swimming, going down slides, etc. Sometimes they can be timid in large, chaotic groups. I think total the park had three small slides and maybe one big one - I could be wrong on that. Jaxon loved the Ranger Station play structure and tot pool. The other two boys just wanted to swim in the wave pool.
  • The indoor amusement park is pretty small and cheesy. Brant went on one ride - Mason was too short to ride anything. The kids didn't ask to go back.
  • Every night these robotic charactors, Grizzly Jack and Grand Bear, tell a story. But they are up pretty high, perched on a fireplace (I think) in the main lobby so it's hard to hear.
  • Bear Island has a fully equipped park, which was nice. There was also a walkway that we heard led to a waterfall but we didn't get a chance to find out.
  • I'm a food snob. And I certainly know my pizza so I was hesitant to try one at Lumberjack's Pizzeria. But Oh.My.GOSH. Was it AWESOME. It tasted like it was made from scratch - on the menu it states to please allow for 30 minutes for a pizza. The sauce, the thin crust, the toppings - all was great. We had a cheese and sausage pizza one night and the next night we had the taco pizza. So good I couldn't believe it.
  • The Grizzly Bean Cafe has an early bird special. It's a buffet - $7 for adults and $5 for kids three and older. Felt like I was back eating at the Purdue cafeteria, the food was so crappy but what do you expect at that price? Two thumbs up on the watermelon though - Coffee gets a big thumbs down.
  • Apparently there is a Charactor Breakfast photo opp but since we stayed during the week we didn't get to meet the "silly Grizzly Bear" as Brant called him a.k.a. Grand Bear. Brant is deathly afraid of mascots anyway so I'm actually glad we missed it.
  • Our best bet was just to use the kitchenette in our room. We made eggs, french toast, etc. I brought the french press with us so we were all good in the coffee category. There is a Jewel about 10 minutes from the resort which helped.
Overall I don't think we would go back. It was perfect timing for my kids because they are so young. But had we stayed another day, they would have been over it. We went to Starved Rock for maybe and hour and a half, nothing hard core. Brant LOVED it, the other two boys grew tired pretty quickly. I was happy to have gotten out of the house. I really liked how spacious the villa we stayed in was and really liked the area in general - reminded me of REALLY old Frankfort.

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