Beware the B&B and Other Tips About Planning a Winter Getaway!
I have this vision in my head of the perfect winter getaway. My family is whizzing down a powdery, snow-covered mountain in a large inner tube. We tip and tumble but the soft, forgiving snow catches us and we emerge smiling, unscathed. And just when our weary legs can't head up the mountain one more time, we're whisked away by a horse drawn sleigh that carries us through the snow to a cozy fire where hot chocolate and s'mores are waiting for us.
Is this a fantasy? Or is this snowy dream out there, just waiting to be discovered?
After several days of online research, I can offer three things I've learned:
1. You can find winter bliss, but it comes at a price.
A certain upstate ski resort has come highly recommended from several families. So I searched for a room for 2 adults and 3 kids for the first weekend in February. The cheapest room they had, which has two queen beds in an antiquey style room, was a thousand dollars a night.
A THOUSAND DOLLARS A NIGHT.
Now I should point out that the price includes most activities and 3 meals a day (which for my kids is cereal, half a grilled cheese, and macaroni and cheese. Multiplied by three that's what, 7 bucks?). I'm not sure what is worth a thousand dollars a night. Perhaps one of the activities is cutting diamonds and you get to take yours home.
2. One mom's dream hotel is another mom's nightmare.
I checked out a few other NY and PA resorts. They looked charming enough from the pictures, but the comments from past visitors swing from love to hate with each review. "Picture Perfect!" "Run down and dirty." "You will love it!" "Worst place I have ever been to!" How do you decipher that? A review of one that looked promising said, "Reminds me of THE SHINING." I can dig that, but my husband, a self-proclaimed chicken, drew the line there.
I've now started looking at smaller places, but I have to tell you, I have a deep fear of B&B's.
3. Beware the "B&B"
When my husband and I started dating I was still in college. We wanted a romantic getaway (in other words, sex without worrying about roommates walking in) so we booked a weekend at a B&B in upstate NY. We looked through a B&B registry (this is pre-internet) and found a place called something like "The Cozy Inn". So we copied down the info, made a reservation and got directions.
I pack a bottle of wine, a cute going-out-to-dinner dress and a sexy teddy I bought just for the occasion. Mike picks me up after work. It's late and we're hungry so we grab fast food on the way and head out to the interstate, eagerly anticipating our stay at “The Cozy Inn”. We follow the directions to a tee and find ourselves in a suburban neighborhood with split level homes built in the 60's. There are no restaurants. No cute Victorian Inns. No signs denoting any public establishments of any kind. I check the address and it matches the house in front of us.
We are in a SUBURBAN CUL-DE-SAC.
I said, "There must be some mistake. Just turn around. We'll head back to the main road and try to find the downtown." But before we could turn around, out of the house comes this woman running across her lawn to our car, welcoming us enthusiastically.
"Hi! Welcome! We're so glad you could join us for the weekend!" My then boyfriend and I looked at each other with wide, panicked eyes.
"Um," I stammered. "We were just leaving. We're supposed to go to a bed and breakfast."
"Yes, yes. Come on in. We've been expecting you. Do you need help with your bags?" I looked around. We're at someone's home. Is there a bellhop? We were trapped and felt like there was no way to back out. We got our bag and followed her into the house.
She asks us questions and tells us how she's divorced and how she opened her "bed and breakfast" when her kids moved out.
"Well it's late. You two must be tired. We'll show you to your room." And by "we" she meant she and her.
She leads us upstairs to a bedroom decorated in red, white and blue. The Colonial soldier wallpaper, the same one my older brother had in his room in the 70's, is yellowed and peeling at the edges. There's a dresser with some die cast metal miniature cars and soldiers, and a Colonial soldier drummer lamp on the nightstand. The bed, where I planned to unveil my new teddy, is actually two twin beds that have been pushed together and covered with a queen-sized sheet.
The teddy stayed in the suitcase.
I pretended I didn't feel well the next morning and high-tailed it out of there, but not before she gave us some of her homemade jam in an old Welch's Looney Tunes grape jelly jar.
I'm off to do more research. I think I'll stick with resorts.