Saturday, June 09, 2007

Vacation - Summer 2007

We're back safe and sound from our mini-vacation. Karen said I never do anything spontaneous, so I decided to spring a vacation on her. On Wednesday morning we left for Toronto. The trip was uneventful, although traveling with a 3 year old has its challenges. In truth she was a lot better than the last car trip we took, but then again it's pretty easy to improve on screaming for 6 hours non-stop.

We stayed at the Residence Inn in Vaughan. Only 5 minutes from Canada's Wonderland, this hotel opened about 6 weeks before. Everything was really nice. We had a room with a full kitchen, 2 bedrooms and 2 baths. Really nice when you have kids. The sound proofing in the rooms was really good, and there were 3 large flat panel TV's. In the evenings there was a small snack (we had some lasagna the first night, and brought along some tortellini for the second night). In the mornings was a full buffet.

Now for some notes directed to the hospitality industry. IMHO, most places should manage to give you a clean room and not mess up your reservations. That's a given. If a hotel can't do these things right, they should give up and try some other type of business. But it's in the little things that a good hotel really excels, and the Residence Inn is a good hotel. It's in the little things. A pillow-top mattress. Popcorn for the microwave. Downstairs, 24 hours a day, coffee, four kinds of tea (with slices of lemon), hot chocolate and fresh fruit. The Manager actually wore a suit (sounds small, but it tells me he places his professional responsibility above his personal comfort). And only once did I hear my personal pet peeve, one of the staff telling me “No problem” instead of “Thank you.” (I know it's no problem. In fact, it's your job.)

This was my first trip to Canada's Wonderland. The park itself was nice and clean, and since we went in the early spring season, the crowds weren't too bad. I can't imagine going there in the middle of the summer with 10,000 more people in the park, long lines and 32 degree heat! The kids had a good time. There were lots of rides for them to go on. I took Hannah on “Swan Lake” which seemed to be her favourite. Karen went on a couple of roller coasters, but not the horrible ones like Top Gun. But the surprise was Bethany and Joel, both of whom went on a roller coaster and really enjoyed it! The look on their faces was amazing; worth the price of the whole trip (almost).

The downside of the park was paying over $50 for lunch. Karen and I had roast chicken and the kids shared some pizza. The chicken was fine, and came with a cob of corn (somewhat original for fast food), but I wonder where they found such small chickens. The portion was half the size of Swiss Chalet, but it cost 50% more. When on vacation, I don't worry too much about how much I'm getting soaked for food, but I do expect decent portions of good food for my money.

Before our trip home I bought a portable DVD player for the car. This worked out well, until Hannah woke up in a snit. Then she started kicking it. But it still works and for a while Karen rode beside Hannah. All told, the trip went well. No motion sickness. No unexpected surprises. And a good and memorable experience.


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