Having a hard time mentally surviving the Midwestern winters? Feeling a bit like Anna and Kristoff from the Disney movie Frozen? Minus the walking talking snowman, and plus or minus the temperamental sister with ice in her veins.
Well I’ve got a winter wonderland with action so hot it could thaw out a Yette (the mythical creature not the $300 cooler, you pretentious jag. But it probably could thaw that too :).
Wisconsin is a state known to have temperatures cold enough to freeze the nuts off a penguin. But when my family and I ventured to the Ridge Hotel for a weekend get away, we felt anything but cold.
The hotel located at 4240 State Road 50 in Lake Geneva WI, formerly know as “Interlaken Resort”, has undergone a complete remodel. The resort is just minutes away from of all the activities of downtown Lake Geneva.
The lobby is a large sprawling lounge featuring multiple fireplaces and “The Vine and Bean Coffee Bar”. It has numerous places to sit and relax, and the modern-day feel of a luxury hotel.
The check-in staff are very friendly and help get you oriented with all the hotel amenities. (restaurants, pools, spa, etc.)
We arrived on Tuesday afternoon and headed to the main restaurant “Crafted Americana”.
The décor is very modern featuring a marbled bar top, quilted high back booth/chair seating, dark gray floor tiling with white accented table tops, hanging chandeliers and dark stained wood shelving. All of the preceding took a back seat to the stunning hilltop view of Lake Como and the encompassing landscape. The Restaurant boasts this view through nearly floor to ceiling windows that make up the entire North wall, and half of the East and West walls. This ensures a great view for all diners.
We took full advantage of the half price appetizers and half price wine bottle special featured Tuesday’s and Thursday’s 11 am – close.
The rooms have all been updated and remodeled. The North side of the hotel has rooms that look out lakeside and the lower level rooms feature a walkout patio and quick access to the outdoor pool (closed for season)/bar/fireplace.
Wednesday morning we hit the indoor pool. The water was warm and comfortable for long periods of time. There is a small island in the pool with an artificial tree towering from the center. The kids loved climbing up and jumping off the island back into the water.
The two televisions on the wall were playing ESPN and cartoons. Good for parents and kids, who when tired, floated around and spaced out to Sponge Bob and golf.
The hot tub was HOT and felt great on my sore muscles. It zapped the chill from the air and my bones due to hours in the pool with the kids.
The view through a steam covered glass wall facing Lake Como was exquisite. The Juxtaposition of a gentle morning snowfall and the warmth of the pool deck created a cozy winter feel. Almost as if looking into a snow globe.
We enjoyed a poolside lunch that we had packed and brought with us. The pool area supplies table tops and chairs for families to sit around and converse. There are also lounge chairs positioned against the glass windows for optimum sun soaking if that’s more your style.
After lunch we attempted to utilize the “Ice Rink at the Ridge” and were disappointed that due to the warm weather the ice rink was closed. I wasn’t too sad though, I’ll take the warm weather.
That being said, the warm weather won’t last long and the rink should be open soon. You can bring your own skates or rent them at the desk for $8.
In the early evening we headed back to the lobby to find a guitarist picking an acoustic guitar and singing to onlookers enjoying a glass of wine. It was of course “Wine Down Wednesday” (Live music and specialty wine every Wednesday from 5:30pm to 8:30 pm. A list of performers and dates are available on-line). *link below
After a glass of wine and a song or two we set our sights on the “Igloo Experience”. The kids were super excited about the igloos. This posed a problem when we were informed they had all been reserved for the evening. We walked away, heads hanging and sad, but with the prodding of my resourceful wife I returned to speak with the management.
I kindly explained to the manager that if we didn’t have an igloo to hangout in, that I would be forced to have my children hangout in the lobby. The manager took one look at my kids running wild and said “Right this way sir, one has just opened up”. (I AM TOTALLY KIDDING)
The manager met me in the bar and I inquired as to what time the reservations had been made for. The manager stated that the reservations began at 7 pm. It was only 5:45 at that time and I explained that my children would only last an hour in the igloo, maximum. And that we would promise to be out by 7 pm.
The manager was extremely kind and agreed to let us use the igloos. The igloos can be purchased with several package options and we chose the basic option – 6 pack of beer (spotted cow), cheese curds, and charcuterie platter ($55). The igloo came with blankets, a heater, lounge chairs and a very kind server. The kids absolutely loved the experience and the ambiance could not have been better. You can visit the Ridge Hotel website to view the package options. *link below
As we promised, we packed up and vacated the igloo prior to 7 pm, and allowed the next group of winter warriors enjoy a romantic (kid free) igloo experience.
We woke up early, grabbed a coffee at the Vine and Bean Coffee Bar in the lobby, and headed to Wilmot Ski Resort located at 11931 Fox River Rd.
Wilmot, WI 53192 (about a 20 – 30 minute drive from The Ridge Hotel) where we had booked our children for a full day ski school.
* I listed some of the ski school pricing and times below. Visit the website link below for further information.
If you ever wondered what the process of taking a couple of young children skiing is like. Take a couple of lawn darts (assuming you still can find them. If not, a couple of metal s ‘more sticks should do the trick) heat them until red-hot, and press them slowly into your eyeballs until you reach the back of your skull. And that should replicate the experience pretty well.
I am obviously over exaggerating but it can be rough. I have taken my children skiing several times now, but the first time is the hardest. The boots are awkward and can be uncomfortable at times. Bundling small ones in heavy clothes is never easy. And kids are often apprehensive to try something new.
As soon as I stepped out of the car I was impressed with the operation. When walking from the parking lot towards the resort, numerous employees directed us to the ski school.
We had registered on-line so once at the ski school we were placed in a short line where they gave us rental tickets and color coded vests to determine age groups.
We then walked a short distance to the ski school rental shop. This is usually where the nightmare begins. Often people are bumping and pushing in overcrowded dressing areas. Kids are screaming and yelling. People throw clothes everywhere. But to my surprise the process was organized and smooth. The fitting area was not crowded at all. There were nice benches for the kids to sit while fitting on boots, the staff was very helpful and the equipment was in good condition.
As soon as I returned to the ski school with my children fully equip, the instructors whisked them away to their assigned classes. I believe this is by design because kids will start to back pedal and resist if nervous. Once in groups with the other kids their age, I only saw a few unhappy campers.
Freedom! My children were in full day class. They even serve them lunch which allowed my wife and I a day of skiing alone. Something we love and haven’t done in 7 years.
My youngest (5) did call us in about an hour before lunch. We fed her and sent her back to class and she enjoyed the rest of the day. Occasionally I would come across my oldest daughter (7) who before even lunch time was riding the chair lift with other girls in her class and going down the easy hills with the instructor. She was having a blast. I could see the smile on her face from a mile away. Proud she was skiing like a big girl.
After ski school was over we met the children back at the ski school building where their instructors gave us report cards and a general run down of how they performed for the day. The report cards can be saved so if you should return, the instructors know what level to place your child in.
From there we went to the cafeteria and ordered hotdogs and hot chocolate. The food is reasonably priced for a ski lodge and there was plenty of seating. The fountain drinks and hot chocolate were free refills so that was a bonus.
Wilmot Ski Resort made skiing easy and fun for the family. My kids loved it and definitely became better skiers because of it. The normal stress of the process or trying to teach the kids yourself is alleviated and I got to enjoy some alone time with my wife. The day was a win.
Back at the hotel I had to pack up and leave for work the next day but the wife, mother in-law and sister in-law enjoyed the half price appetizers and wine along with an early bed time due to exhausted kids.
I am in no way affiliated or paid by either The Ridge Hotel or Wilmot Ski Resort. I do however frequent both places because I truly enjoy them. I recommend them because I hope that I add some kind of value to your life via this blog and I believe you will find value here.
The Ridge Resort offers numerous activities for the kids from igloo’s to skating, swimming and music. Check the website for upcoming events such as an ice fishing tournament February 2, and the downtown Lake Geneva Snow Castle Festival.
I frequent The Ridge Hotel during the summer and the out-door pool is great. They have an outdoor bar, and waitresses to bring you drinks poolside. There is a live band most weekend days out on the bar patio which is easily heard from the pool. The out door fire-place is a beautiful place to spend the night-time hours enjoying the view of Lake Como and your favorite beverage.
I have also attended a wedding at The Ridge Hotel. The rooms were gorgeous and the food was great.
As a blogger I need to be honest in my observations so I will offer you one negative that you may encounter. If you are from a large city such as Chicago for example, like myself. You may notice that the service in Wisconsin (as well as almost anywhere else I have travelled outside the major city) can be much slower than you are used to.
This used to drive me nuts. I was always in a hurry. You want your order ASAP right? I have since taken a different perspective on the slower service. In a way it forces me to slow down and enjoy the moment. While waiting for your drink to be poured, stare out the window and day-dream or get to know someone at the bar. While waiting for dinner catch up with a loved one. What’s the hurry ? You came there to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city anyway right?
Room prices begin at $125/night and the hotel offers a $25 gift card to their restaurants if booked through their website.
Wilmot was a great place for the children to learn to ski. They made the process easy and enjoyable. Wilmot Ski Resort is owned by Vail Resorts and if you purchase an “Epic” pass, you are granted access to resorts such as; Unlimited access to Vail, Beaver Creek, Whistler Blackcomb, Breckenridge, Keystone, Park City, Heavenly, Northstar, Kirkwood, Stowe, Wilmot, Afton Alps, Mt. Brighton, Perisher (2018 access) and Arapahoe Basin! No restricted dates. A definite bonus.
The Ridge Hotel http://www.ridgelakegeneva.com/
4240 State Road 50
Lake Geneva, WI 53147
+1 (800) 225-5558
Wilmot Ski Resort – https://www.wilmotmountain.com/
Half Day Lessons:
Monday-Friday: 10am-12:30pm or 1:30pm-4pm
Weekend/Holiday:9:30am-12pm or 1pm-3:30pm
Full Day Lessons (includes lunch)
HALF DAY Lesson – $55
FULL DAY Lesson – $85
Lesson ADD ONS
3-4 yr old LIFT TICKET – FREE
5-12 yr old LIFT TICKET – $22
Ski Rental Package (includes helmet) – $25
Snowboard Rental Package (includes helmet) – $25
Helmet – $8
Hope you all had a fantastic holiday season and that you find love and luck in 2019. Stay safe out there and talk to you soon.