Wednesday, September 18, 2013

September 18, 2013

We’ve been pretty lucky over the last ten years or so when it comes to vacations. Prior to 2000, we’d only experienced two trips away. One was up to a lake in the Muskoka region of Ontario. The other had been our “honeymoon” that we took to Las Vegas on our 17th wedding anniversary. The lack of travel and vacations away hadn’t bothered me as much as it had my beloved. I’d grown up with the attitude that vacation trips were rewards you gave yourself once every few years. That attitude came from my mother, of course, and was an attitude shared by many in her generation.

My husband has almost always had a thirst for travel.

You know how some things in life have stayed the same with regard to affordability and some have come down in price? Travel really is more affordable now than it was in the early years of our marriage. Here in our neck of the woods you can get all-inclusive packages to places like the Dominican Republic for a week, including airfare for under a thousand dollars per person—sometimes as low as six hundred. If you live in any of the port cities like New York, Philadelphia, Port Canaveral, Fort Lauderdale or Miami, you can take a cruise for a very reasonable amount, too—and they are always inclusive of meals if not soda and alcohol.

We’ve traveled quite a bit these last ten years, sometimes going away more than once a year for pleasure. This year we had only one trip for pleasure and that was a week or so ago. Most of our vacation trips have been awesome, but I guess you can’t always hit them out of the park.

I won’t name the resort we went to in central Ontario. I will say that we were both disappointed. I am mobility challenged, and came prepared to use my wheelchair to get whatever distances we had to travel, to get to the lake, or the walking trails. The only problem was it turned out there were no “trails” – we would have had to navigate soft lawn or harder packed, pebble strewn ground. My chair has those small wheels, so that was not happening. Our room was on the second floor which was only a slight problem in that there was no elevator.

The food was good – we had an assigned table in the dining room for every meal (the same table each time) not far from what I presumed was the only washroom, which was down a flight of fairly steep stairs. It wasn’t until after our last dinner that I discovered, quite by accident that across the dining room and out of my line of sight was another washroom, no stairs required.

Every one of those servers saw me with my cane, and the maitre d’ seated us that first night, and not a one of them thought to mention the accessible washroom tucked away in an ell to the main room. But I will assume full responsibility because I didn’t ask, either.

I won’t say that I didn’t have a single crabby moment, because that would be a lie. To my shame, I had several.

There were some very nice things about the resort. The food, as I said, was good and some of the staff very nice. The grounds of this historic estate were beautiful and we did make it from our room to the lake, so that we sat for an interlude enjoying the waves. It was a windy day and I was glad I thought to bring my jacket. My brief foray by the water was nearly worth the rest of the time we spent there.

Fortunately, I had to focus on getting as much writing done as I could during those four days as I am on a deadline, and that I did very well. My beloved went for a couple of walks, and was just as happy to catch up—or try to—on his reading, otherwise. He made use of the outdoor pool—he said the water was fairly warm but getting out of it was a very chilly experience. With the air temperature somewhere around 70, I imagine it would be. If it had been warmer I’d have enjoyed that experience with him.

I did make it to the indoor pool our last night there. It was a fair walk from our room to the pool that was in the main building and required you to go up one short flight of stairs, and down another. The water was very warm, the pool very clean and fairly deserted. The hot tub, however, was, due to a malfunction, a cold tub (only about 85 degrees) which does not do my arthritis any favors.

Ah well, live and learn. I will make a note to myself that just because a resort looks good on its website and boasts several awards, doesn’t mean I can take what they offer at face value. And this past week did remind me of why it is that we tend to vacation outside of Canada. My fellow Canadians may throw rotten tomatoes at me for this one, but I have to be honest. We have stayed other places in some of our major cities and I can say one thing with absolute authority.

My country does many things very well, but offering truly world class accommodations that are good value for the dollar, sadly, is not one of them.


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