A Day of Play at Great Wolf Lodge Southern California

A  Day of Play at Great Wolf Lodge Southern California

By Donna Biroczky

Last week, I got to fulfill a dream for my kids: visit Great Wolf Lodge here in Southern California! The state’s largest indoor water park, Great Wolf is a resort like no other. Fitting for kids of all ages, including us adults that love water slides, once you park your car – or leave it with the valet – you’re good to go for your entire stay, without ever leaving the property!

Great Wolf Lodge opened in Anaheim in February 2016, joining a double-digit list of other GWL water parks scattered throughout the United States and Canada. Once you walk through the distinctive entry, you’re in a new world. The entire property is themed after an enormous lodge, from the massive fireplace to your left when you enter the lobby to the decor in the rooms. And then the rooms themselves have to be seen to be believed. Rooms are designed with families in mind, and with the latest addition of 18 new Deluxe Wolf Den King Suites, larger families can now all stay in one suite together.

Great Wolf Lodge SoCal

Deluxe Wolf Den King Suites include a built-in wolf’s den with bunk beds for the kids and special animations that respond to MagiQuest wands (available downstairs for purchase when you enroll in a game of MagiQuest), a king-size bed in a private room for mom and dad, and a queen-size bed and sofa sleeper in the main suite area. Each of the two rooms has its own full bathroom, so no sharing or going between rooms in the middle of the night. There are also other levels of rooms available, extending your lodge experience all the way through your visit. Bunk beds, in-room refrigerators, wi-fi, murals, TVs and more, it’s no wonder this is a very popular family destination!

Speaking of middle of the night — Great Wolf Lodge is like a city in itself, with activities and things to do 24/7. The Northern Lights Arcade is open overnight. Another fun activity to play during the day is MagiQuest. It’s an interactive role-playing game, where players assign themselves a name, pick a wand and topper, and head off around the property to fulfill certain tasks. If you’ve never played the game, you’re in for a treat. A full game can take 6-8 hours to complete, but it’s a fun game even if you don’t complete all the levels. Great Wolf Lodge has added on a new knighting ceremony that takes place twice a day (2pm and 7pm) for those who have defeated Charlock, the evil dragon, so be sure to keep room in your schedule to attend if you do play all the way through!

New to Great Wolf Lodge in Anaheim is the Wine Down Service, designed solely for the adults in the group. The signature wine, cheese and dessert pairing program allows parents to “wine down” after a full day of busy activities once the children are asleep. Pairings include Kids Snoring, More Pinot Noir-ing (chocolate truffles and a velvety Pinor Noir) and Rekindle the Bonfire (dark chocolate-covered strawberries with a bottle of Chloe Prosecco) are sure to make your night more special once you’re in your room for the night. Even better, they don’t knock on your door so the kiddos aren’t woken up; you will receive a text to your phone announcing its delivery, so you can sneak out and grab it without any surprise visitors for your “wine down” enjoyment!

General Manager Phil Cunningham has listened to guest feedback throughout his tenure at the lodge to provide guest enhancements and new activities. The day we visited was his last day at the Anaheim lodge, but he leaves the location in good hands. My son went over to thank him for all he did, and he had an engaging conversation for several minutes. My heart always melts a little when an adult, particularly one so busy and in-demand, takes the time to speak to a child or teen and listen to his or her gratitude and joy. Thank you, Mr. Cunningham! You left an impression on my son!

Chef Hany Ali also does an amazing job of ensuring all guests do not go hungry. The Lodge Grill restaurant served us all lunch during our visit and wow, did we all eat well. The children had a buffet available, including everyone’s favorite, gourmet mac and cheese, finishing off with small jars full of candy, like gummy bears and mini M & M’s. My son ate off the adult menu but he’s still a kid inside and that jar of candy was the perfect end to his meal.

The adult food was beyond compare. We started with a butternut squash soup served inside of an acorn squash. Seasoned perfectly, with a velvety consistency, this soup was a wonderful way to start our five-course meal. Next on the menu was an arugula salad with a bread stick, goat cheese, roasted peach slices and a small personal jar of salad dressing. We were all ooh-ing and ahh-ing over the presentation of all the courses — every piece of serving ware seems purposeful yet appealing to the eye.

Our main course was grilled sea bass, which literally melted in my mouth, over risotto, and veal with microgreen topping served over buttery grits. An array of roasted vegetables, such as heirloom carrots and shiseito peppers, sat in between the two protein courses. It got really quiet for a while as everyone enjoyed the food. Dessert was a beautifully plated roasted apple tart and house-made strawberry ice cream. We were so full by then but who wants to send back a dessert plate with anything on it?

One very big deal to know about meals at the Great Wolf Lodge is that they keep everyone’s dietary and medical needs in mind. If you have a child with food allergies, please advise the staff when you book. You will be provided your own special chef to ensure all your child’s food is completely safe and meets their needs and preferences. Isn’t that amazing?

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Come Relax at Villa del Palmar at the Islands of Loreto

Villa del Palmar at the Islands of Loreto

*Special thanks to Villa del Palmar for hosting my stay. All thoughts and opinions remain my own.*

By Erin

If you’re searching for a place of beauty that defines luxury and true relaxation, look no further than Villa del Palmar at the Islands of Loreto. Filled with quiet beaches, scenic vistas, rich history and an astounding natural habitat that offers every modern amenity and a truly exceptional experience for every guest, making this a prime vacation spot to go to. Villa del Palmar is the perfect getaway for friends, couples, honeymooners, friends and families.

Off the Sea of Cortez lies a very magical place, one that hasn’t turned into an overpopulated tourist trap.  Villa del Palmar at the Islands of Loreto  is just south of Loreto, Mexico along the eastern coastline of the Baja peninsula overlooking Danzante Island. It is the perfect escape from Los Angeles. Loreto is a quaint little fishing village with a small population with a large desire to preserve its astounding beauty. A very peaceful and quite town that you can relax in and take in all of the beauty surrounding you. Less than a two-hour flight from Los Angeles and featuring an abundance of activities for the mind, body and soul. Upon arrival you can have some welcome drinks. You will never want to leave this paradise!

The resort is set within Danzante Bay and the indigo waters of the Sea of Cortez once dubbed “The Aquarium of the World” by Jacques Cousteau. Featuring 4,447 acres of unspoiled beauty, both stunning ocean and mountain views, three outstanding restaurants, five swimming pools, a 39,000-square-foot luxury spa, beautiful beaches, tennis courts, miles of hiking trails, glass-bottomed kayaks, sport fishing, and a soon-to-open Rees Jones-designed golf course, Villa del Palmar has something for everyone to enjoy. Here’s some of my favorite things to enjoy during your stay that everyone must experience!

Whale & Dolphin Watching

The Sea of Cortez is swimming with sea life, I have never seen so many whales and dolphins all in one place! Whale watching in Loreto is a must, you will be entertained for hours and make memories to last a lifetime. Marine animals can be spotted here throughout the year including the humpback whale, the blue whale, the California gray whale, killer whale, along with different kinds of dolphins. Our small boat that we took from the hotel glided over the waves as we watched and followed the whales surface to the top.

Later we encountered dolphins by the thousands! We watched with glee as dolphins surrounded our boat in the middle of the sea, flying and jumping in all directions, around and under our boat, leaping and catching themselves a good dinner.

Dining

The dining options here offer many delicious sensations for your taste buds to enjoy. The cuisine completely compliments the splendor of the magnificent views that surround you. Dining options here are created with so much passion and everything is so fresh!

  • Danzante Restaurant: Fine dining steak house and seafood with Mexican fusion, offering a large wine selection and a variety of cigars.
  • The Market Restaurant: A brand new concept where you will be able to make your own dishes! Just imagine being home & prepare your own lunch or dinner with the help of our chef. Open for breakfast and dinner.

  • Casa Mia Restaurant: Authentic Italian food with fresh pasta and pizza. Open for lunch & dinner.
  • Room Service: Breakfast, lunch, dinner and overnight menu featuring international cuisine & snacks. 24 hour service.

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5 Reasons to Make a Trip to Renaissance Indian Wells Resort & Spa

5 Reasons to Make a Trip to Renaissance Indian Wells Resort

By Erin

Located in the heart of the prestigious desert community of Indian Wells is the Renaissance Indian Wells Resort and Spa. 13 miles from Palm Springs and nestled at the foot of the majestic Santa Rosa Mountains, makes for an easy getaway weekend for those in Southern California. For those outside that area, Palm Springs International Airport is a quick 16 miles away. I was invited to come and stay here for the weekend to check it out, share my thoughts and show you my favorite spots. I hope you enjoy this beautiful property as much as I did!

 

Renaissance Indian Wells Resort & Spa

The Pools 

One of the biggest draws for me to want to stay at a hotel or resort has always been the pools! As soon as I saw what the pools here looked like at the Renaissance Indian Wells Resort & Spa , I could not wait to get here. The resort boasts the largest hotel swimming pool complex in the desert region including three distinct pools, a pool bar, cabanas, a waterfall and hot tubs. A poolside sandy beach entrance is perfect for traveling families–It is a special favorite among families/children and beach lovers. An amazing pool cabana experience featuring flat-screen TV’s, sofas, loungers, ceiling fans, personal coolers and refreshments.

Our cabana for the day and refreshments. It was so relaxing to just sit by the pool and enjoy the beautiful day with family.

The pool is just as beautiful at night and perfect for some hot tub time!

Room with a View

Very spacious, modern, upscale guest rooms – among the largest and most comfortable in the area. The best part I think is, those VIEWS! How amazing is it to wake up in the morning or go out at night and see THIS view from your room???

The rooms are very spacious and comfortable. As you can tell by the views above, I especially loved our patio!

Star Suites, featuring specially commissioned celebrity artwork and retro decor inspired by legends of Hollywood including Marilyn Monroe, Frank Sinatra, Lucille Ball and Bing Crosby to name a few. Our room had some neat artwork in the bathroom on the wall.

The bathrooms were very spacious as well, more than one person can get ready at a time. All the amenities you could possible need are here.

The Spa

Spa Esmeralda, features both indoor and outdoor treatment and spa pool offerings, as well as a salon and fitness facilities. The spa is beautiful and the perfect place to get away to relax and enjoy a facial, massage, body scrub or wrap, waxing and nail care. I enjoyed a luxurious facial during my time here and enjoyed every second of it.

One of my favorite places at the spas was outdoors. Such a beautiful outdoor spa. Very private, quite and serene.

The Food

There are numerous food and beverage locations and dining experiences throughout the resort – including amazing sushi, SPC serving casual, modern Italian cuisine, and Cava – serving a broad menu of American and family favorites. Vegan and gluten-free options are available.

During my stay here we tried the seafood buffet that they serve at Cava on Friday nights. We also had breakfast here both mornings during our stay.

Just a few of the many options to enjoy at the seafood buffet. Everything is served up super fresh and was oh so delicious.

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