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USA Today

Indoor Water Park Hotels Near Chicago

By Brittany Anas

Indoor pools are standard at many hotels near Chicago. But, indoor water parks? They’re sure to make a big splash, especially with families who are traveling with children. Of course, a major perk of indoor water parks is that fun isn’t dependent on favorable weather forecasts. Instead, hotel guests can zip down slides or float in lazy rivers any time of year. A mid-winter weekend getaway to an indoor water park could help hold the kids over until the pools re-open in the summer. At these hotels near Chicago, water parks are star amenities.

Timber Ridge Lodge and Water Park at Grand Geneva

About 90 minutes from Chicago, the Timber Ridge Lodge and Water Park at Grand Geneva is a family-friendly destination that offers, not just water slides and pools, but also arcades and mini-golf. The 50,000-square-foot water park has attractions that kids of all ages can enjoy. The Tiny Timbers features swings, mini-slides, spouts and a mushroom waterfall to engage the little ones. An activity pool has a rope climb on which kids can monkey their way across, plus basketball hoops and waterslides. Canyon River is the water park’s lazy river with single and double tubes available. The Timber Rapids and Avalanche Falls slides are synced to upbeat country and pop songs. Of course, there’s a hot tub to warm up in as well. Guests who stay at the Timber Ridge Lodge receive four complimentary water park passes with a one-bedroom suite, and six passes with a two-bedroom suite.

Great Wolf Lodge in Wisconsin Dells

First, some good news: The Great Wolf Lodge plans to open its newest location in Gurnee, Ill., just about an hour from Chicago in mid-2018. Great Wolf Lodge is renovating the former KeyLime Cove indoor water park that closed. Otherwise, the closest Great Wolf Lodge to Chicago is about three hours away in the Wisconsin Dells. Some fun attractions include the Mountain Edge Raceway that’s akin to tobogganing, except with a mat and on a waterslide; Frog Bog Log Walk that challenges kiddos to cross floating lily pads with the help of cargo nets; and the Slap Tail Pond, a wave pool. Other highlights include indoor cabanas, hot springs warming pools and lots of water slides. Water park passes are exclusive to guests.

Grizzly Jack’s Grand Bear Resort in Utica, Ill.

Bob in the waves at the water park’s rock-lined wave pool or slip and slide down the waterslides. It’s your move at this resort, which is about 90 minutes outside of Chicago in Utica, Ill. and near Starved Rock State Park. The water park also has a play structure for children, a lazy river and a hot tub. A small fire contained to the water park area prompted the water park to shut down for renovations, but it’s scheduled to re-open Memorial Day 2018. Water park admission is complimentary to hotel guests. Day passes are available, starting at $17.95 per person.

Country Inn and Suites in Galena, Ill.

The swim area at the Country Inn & Suites in Galena, Ill. falls somewhere between standard hotel pool and full-on water park. A twisting waterslide empties out into the main pool. Plus, a kids’ section has a mini-frog water slide and play structure.


The most romantic weekend getaways in America

By Terry Ward


U.S. News & World Report

5 Wonderful Winter Festivals Worth Traveling For

Embrace cold-weather pursuits and winter fun with snow ice sculpture competitions, concerts and more.

By Sheryl Nance-Nash

Forget staying home for the dark, cold days of winter. As temperatures cool down, awe-inspiring events and festivals around the world beckon to cold-weather enthusiasts. From an annual wine festival in Taos, New Mexico, to a snow sculpting competition in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, these thrilling events are worth facing the winter chill. Read on to discover spectacular seasonal festivals across the globe.

Aspen, Colorado

When: Jan. 11-14, 2018

Aspen‘s annual “toast to winter” dates back to January 1951, when locals began celebrating the town’s unique Nordic lifestyle. The four-day fest features a well-rounded mix of activities, including a Soupsköl (a soup cook-off), a canine fashion show, fat-biking competitions and more. Plus, there are plenty of ways to embrace Aspen’s winter paradise. Four ski mountains make up the terrain for the world-renowned Snowmassresort. Aspen Mountain, locally referred to as Ajax, rises up directly from downtown, creating an enchanting winter scene, and Buttermilk Mountain, home of the X Games, is an ideal spot for kids and beginners. Meanwhile, Aspen Highlands is home to the legendary Highland Bowl, and Snowmass offers diverse runs for all skill levels. Aspen’s beautiful scenery also makes it prime spot for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, fly-fishing and even hot-air ballooning. After embracing some outdoor revelry, head out for dinner at one of Aspen’s world-class restaurants. End a perfect day at Belly Up, Aspen’s 500-person live music venue, where you’re likely to hear renowned artists. Aspen’s big-city cultural institutions, well known for their summer programming, also have plenty of events throughout the winter.

St. Barts Music Festival
St. Barts

When: January 5-21, 2018

The much-loved St. Barts Music Festival is celebrating its 34th season. The island will host a collection of international music stars and dancers to perform in informal and open-air settings around the island. The artists, who perform in the leading cities around the world, will hold classical music concerts, recitals and opera performances.

Taos Winter Wine Festival
Taos, New Mexico

When: February 1-4, 2018

If you’re a wine lover, consider heading to Taos for a four-day tasting experience with wines from nearly 40 participating wineries, a selection of breweries and one-of-a-kind food provided by local northern New Mexico restaurants. The festival features film screenings, daily wine seminars, a night of tastings at top restaurants, a traditional pig roast and après-ski drinks, culminating in a Grand Tasting – the cornerstone event that spotlights more than 150 different wines from 36 participating wineries and tastes from the area’s finest restaurants. The fun (and the libations) don’t end there. The Super Sunday Champagne Brunch on Feb. 4, 2018, includes four successive plates with sparkling wines.

With events taking place at high-end spas like El Monte Sagrado Living Resort & Spa and different resorts throughout the Taos Ski Valley, you’re sure to see plenty of highlights in Taos. Wander to art galleries and museums that dot the streets of the Historic Taos Plaza, follow U.S. Route 64 to explore national sites like the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge or hit the slopes and ski or snowboard the snow-capped peaks of the Taos Ski Valley. When you’re ready to call it a day, cozy up at the Dreamcatcher Bed & Breakfast or treat yourself to a night’s stay at Taos Ski Valley’s newest luxury resort, The Blake at Taos Ski Valley.

Winterfest and the U.S. National Snow Sculpting Competition
Lake Geneva, Wisconsin

When: January 27-February 4, 2018

Winter meets art in Lake Geneva every year during Winterfest for the U.S. National Snow Sculpting Competition. Talented sculptors and artists from across the country create works of art out of 8-foot wide by 9-foot tall snow blocks. Other must-do events and activities during the nine-day festival include the Abominable Snow Race (a 4- to 6-mile course made up of 20-plus obstacles at the Grand Geneva Resort & Spa‘s Mountain Top ski area), the Human Dog Sled Race, a wine pairing dinner, live magic and illusion at the Tristan Crist Magic Theatre, historic tours of Maxwell Mansion, live music and entertainment, a chili cook-off and the Cocoa Crawl in downtown Lake Geneva.

Lake Geneva also has many scenic trails and nature areas for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling and ice skating. Downhill skiers and snowboarders flock to Grand Geneva’s Mountain Top ski area or nearby Wilmot Mountain. Meanwhile, adventurers turn to Geneva Canopy Tours to zip line through the bare trees that allow clear views of the sky, and ice skaters pick from rinks found at The Abbey Resort, The Ridge Hotel, Lake Lawn Resort and Grand Geneva Resort & Spa. The best sledding hills are at Big Foot Beach State Park and near the parking lot at Sage and Mill Streets in downtown Lake Geneva.

When you’re ready to seek warmth, there are plenty of quaint downtown specialty shops, great restaurants like Sprecher’s Restaurant & Pub and Tuscan Tavern & Grill. Hunker down at The Cove of Lake Geneva or a historic hotel like The Baker House.

Banff National Park, Canada

When: January 18-28, 2018

Around Lake Louise and Banff in the winter, the annual SnowDays Festival a major event. After all, Lake Louise is one of the top tourist destinations in the world, with its beautiful crystal-clear turquoise lakes enveloped by stunning glaciers. It’s also home to the iconic Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. SnowDays includes a mix of events, shows and activities. Ice skate on the whimsical frozen surface of Lake Louise, catch the Banff Ice Magic Festival with its jaw-dropping ice sculptures from top ice artists around the globe or spend a day riding on the slopes of one of the nearby ski resorts. At night, join the festivities in town. Watch live music, ski and snowboard competitions or simply sip drinks by the fire. For more cold-weather pastimes, embrace sleigh rides, extreme winter sports, gondola riding, snowshoeing and Banff’s stunning hot springs.


Money Magazine

The 10 Best Ski and Snowboard Destinations for Your Money

By Allana Akhtar

Now that winter’s in full swing and the snow’s piling up, it’s time to get your snow pants out for a ski or snowboard trip with family, friends or a significant other. Whether you’re a casual skier or experienced racer, there are plenty of mountains with extraordinary views and challenging summits to try all over the country.

MONEY dug into its Best in Travel database to put together the following list of 10 snow-friendly cities that offer the greatest value. Each offers a variety of nearby ski resorts, a nice mix of other apres-ski attractions, and good values on travel, food and lodging for the perfect winter vacation.

1. Reno, Nevada

Total cost of a week for two: $1,625
Number of nearby resorts: 12

Reno has the perfect combination of stunning natural beauty and a lively nightlife scene for after you quit the slopes. It’s only a modest drive from the scenic summits of Lake Tahoe, yet flights to Reno for a winter trip are still a bargain. Average flight prices begin at $312, according to the flight booking app Hopper. You can even ditch overpriced resort stays for a nearby hotel, which will cost around $100 per night, according to

Make sure you hit the runs at local favorite Mt. Rose, the only mountain offering views over both Lake Tahoe and Reno, according to the website Ski Lake Tahoe. Plus, you won’t have a long trip after you fly in—the resort is just 25 miles from the Reno Airport. Lift tickets are $125 for an adult day pass and $75 a day for children, but booking in advance can score you some discounted tickets.

2. Salt Lake City, Utah

Total cost of a week for two: $2,295
Number of nearby resorts: 8

For another ski excursion with truly remarkable views, consider the West Coast’s other great lake. Salt Lake City gets plenty of snowfall, which you can enjoy at any of the eight nearby ski resorts. Flights from U.S. destinations are $258 round-trip on average, according to Hopper, while finds rooms cost about $122 per night.

If you’re a regular skier looking for a new challenge or views unlike any other, hit up Alta, one of the oldest—and one of the rare skiing-only—resorts in the U.S. The top elevation reaches 10,550 feet and the mountain drops about 2,000 feet, with five lifts. An adult single-day lift ticket is about $99, but prices vary depending on age and at what time you purchase.

If you’re a snowboarder or looking for more outdoor options, Snowbird is another great option. During the winter months, the resort offers activities like snowshoeing, mountain tours, “cat skiing” tours and even heli-skiing, for one-of-a-kind views of the 11,000-foot mountain. Snowbird day tickets start at $119.

3. South Lake Tahoe, California

Total cost of a week for two: $3,249
Number of nearby resorts: 10

Just across the state line from Nevada, South Lake Tahoe can deliver an adrenaline rush both on and off the slopes. Heavenly Mountain Resort boasts almost 100 runs across 4,800 acres of terrain; you can feast your eyes on celestial views of Lake Tahoe while skiing the mountain’s 3,500-foot vertical drop. In the evening, warm up with some drinks and dancing at Unbuckle at Tamarack Lodge, a nightclub located 9,150 feet above sea level, at the top of the resort’s gondola.

Flights to South Lake Tahoe cost $312 on average, Hopper finds, and hotel rooms are about $155 a night, according to Buying online and advance will land you the best lift ticket deals at Heavenly, but window prices for adults are $126 per day each, while children can enter for $69.

Mt. Brighton in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Jack Affleck/Vail Resorts

4. Ann Arbor, Michigan

Total cost of a week for two: $1,293
Number of nearby resorts: 2

Ann Arbor is known more as a college town than a ski town, but the city has easy access to nearby ski resorts, and its historic landmarks and renowned restaurants make it a lovely winter destination. Flights to Ann Arbor are the cheapest on this list, at $245 on average, according to Hopper, and renting a car costs just $32.50 per day, according to data from

Drive up to Mt. Brighton and hit one of the 24 trails sprawled along the 130-acre resort. More appropriate for family outings than for mogul jumping, the resort is packed with beginner and intermediate runs; it also has some of the least expensive child lift tickets on the list, starting at $35. (And if the family gets bored, there’s also the University of Michigan campus to explore, and obligatory tours of the country’s largest stadium, The Big House.)

 5. Taos, New Mexico

Total cost of a week for two: $1,919
Number of nearby resorts: 4

 You won’t have to drive far from Taos Pueblo to hit the slopes at the nearest ski resort, Taos Ski Valley. Only 18 miles from town, the resort offers spectacular views of the Sangre de Cristo mountain range. There’s also a nearby hot springs destination, Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs Resort & Spa, that offers sulfur-free mineral waters, mud pools, massages, yoga, and hiking trails. Single-day lift tickets at Taos start at $105 for adults, $85 for teens and seniors, and $65 for children.
6. Gatlinburg, Tennessee
 Total cost of a week for two: $1,903
Number of nearby resorts: 2

Don’t forget the South. Gatlinburg’s proximity to the Smoky Mountains situates it as a perfect ski destination south of the Mason-Dixon line. One of the best known ski resorts in the area is Ober Gatlinburg. Ober’s 600-foot mountain might draw sneers from purists, but families will love one of its most unusual features: an outdoor, year-round roller coaster. Airfare to Gatlinburg is about $323, and snag adult single-day lift tickets starting at $36.

 7. Milwaukee, Wisconsin
 Total cost of a week for two: $3,214
Number of nearby resorts: 3

Beer and ski hills—what more could anyone want in the wintertime? Flights to Milwaukee are under $300 right now according to Hopper, and the city is about 50 miles away from the scenic Lake Geneva. The Grand Geneva resort gives you gorgeous views while offering cheap lift tickets—just $20 a day. On your drive back, stop to tour some of the best breweries in the state (according to Thrillist), including the Milwaukee Brewing Company and Lakefront Brewery.

8. Burlington, Vermont

 Total cost of a week for two: $1,934
Number of nearby resorts: 5

Vermont’s stunning natural beauty shines from atop the many summits near Burlington. One of the most popular destinations here is Stowe Mountain Resort, and for good reason—the 485 acre land has more mile-long lifts than any other resort in the East, and you can choose from 116 trails, with the highest skiing elevation reaching 3,625 feet. Adult lift tickets are $99 per day in peak periods (and $94 off-peak).

You can also check out the historic Mad River Glen resort, home to the famous ‘Single Chair’—one of just two single-person lifts in the country. It’s also the only skier-owned mountain in America: If you buy a share in the cooperative ($2,000 per share), you can vote on issues surrounding the mountain.

9. Minneapolis/St.Paul, Minnesota

Total cost of a week for two: $2,848
Number of nearby resorts: 3

Midwesterner ski fans shouldn’t write off the Twin Cities: Low-key local resort Buck Hill has launched the careers of World Cup ski racers Kristina Koznick and Lindsey Vonn. The resort’s low prices—lift rates start at $16 some nights—and mix of skiing, snowboarding and tubing trails make this a great family destination.

After the slopes, your family can also hit the Mall of America and other local attractions. Flights from the U.S. cost just $248 on average, according to Hopper.

10. Boise, Idaho

Total cost of a week for two: $2,243
Number of nearby resorts: 1

The last city on our list is Boise, which gets a boost from its affordable average hotel costs ($110 on average, according to You’ll need to drive a couple of hours to reach the famed Sun Valley resort or its newish rival, Tamarack, but Boise has its own historic hill much closer at hand: Bogus Basin, which features 78 runs across 2,600 acres, plus snowshoe trails, a tubing hill and night skiing.


To make the preceding selections, we used MONEY’s Best in Travel database to analyze roughly three dozen of the most popular winter sports destinations nationwide. Then we ranked the cities, identifying the 10 that scored highest for value delivered. Among cost factors, we gave the most weight to the price of airfare, lodging, and food, as well as the biggest year-over-year price drops. We also considered the number of ski resorts each city offered, tourist activities, and experience factors like low crime rates, pleasant weather, and ease of access to public transportation.


Architectural Digest

11 Outdoor Ice Rinks at Luxury Hotels

With views of the Pacific Ocean or the Dolomite Mountains, these are not your typical skating rinks

By Stephanie Strasnick

Equal parts warm holiday nostalgia and invigorating winter fun, it’s no surprise that outdoor ice-skating is a seasonal pastime that’s endured for generations. To the delight of many skaters, high-end hotels around the world are making it easier than ever for snow bunnies to partake in this winter tradition by building their own on-property rinks for guests to enjoy. These hotel rinks aren’t your average no-frills, frozen pond either. Hotels are thinking outside the rink to create twinkle light–filled Kinkadian winter escapes that are brimming with holiday cheer. And for those not confident on skates, a number of rinks offer on-site instruction and rinkside seating and refreshments.

From an enchanting Italian terrace with panoramic Dolomite views to a rooftop rink on the Las Vegas Strip that screens classic holiday movies, here are our picks for the world’s most festive and whimsical hotel skating venues.

Cristallo, a Luxury Collection Resort & Spa, Cortina D’Ampezzo, Italy

When winter rolls around at this posh Italian hideaway, an eco-friendly ice rink is installed on the hotel’s large panoramic terrace, offering skaters sweeping views of the nearby Dolomites.

Beau-Rivage Palace, a Leading Hotel of the World, Lausanne, Switzerland

The terrace at this historic property is famous for its awe-inspiring views of Lake Geneva and the Alps. In the winter, guests are invited to skate on the terrace’s seasonal rink, and dine on fondue and local meats and cheeses.

Hotel del Coronado, San Diego

Hotel del Coronado’s seasonal outdoor rink—the city’s only seaside skating venue—delivers prime views of the Pacific Ocean and Coronado Beach. Its ambience is enhanced by the sight of the hotel itself, which is decked out in twinkle lights and holiday decor.

The Dolder Grand, Zurich

At 6,000 square meters, the open-air ice rink at the luxe Dolder Grand is the largest in Europe. Guests can use the rink for ice-skating, or try their hand at curling or Chneble (the Swiss term for ice hockey).

The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, Las Vegas

This winter, the Cosmopolitan is transforming its rooftop pool into a spirited winter dreamland. In addition to traditional skating, the rink will host holiday movie nights (featuring such film as Frozen and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation) and will offer a curated seasonal cocktail menu.

The Chedi Andermatt, a Leading Hotel of the World, Andermatt, Switzerland

In the winter months, the Courtyard at the picture-perfect Chedi Andermatt features a sleek skating rink with sweeping views of the snow-covered Swiss Alps. The hotel serves après-skate refreshments that include mulled wine and roasted chestnuts.

Mohonk Mountain House, New Paltz, New York

For generations, Mohonk Mountain House has been a beloved weekend retreat for New Yorkers. Year-round, vacationers flock to this Victorian castle—which sits on 40,000 acres of protected land—for such seasonal activities as golf, swimming, and horseback riding in the summer, and ice-skating in the winter.

Delta Bessborough, Saskatoon, Canada

Earlier this season, the small Canadian city of Saskatoon garnered international attention with the opening of the expansive contemporary art museum Remai Modern. Travelers who are coming for the art should stay for the skating. Behind the historic and palatial Delta Bessborough hotel, a former railway hotel, is a charming outdoor ice rink with river views.

Dorchester Collection Hotel Plaza Athénée, Paris

The outdoor ice rink at this iconic Parisian hotel is brimming with holiday enchantment. Located in the property’s La Cour Jardin, the rink is staffed with skating instructors and is open to guests throughout the winter season.

Grand Geneva Resort & Spa, Lake Geneva, Wisconsin

Come winter, the family-friendly Grand Geneva Resort transforms into a snow-covered winter wonderland. In addition to sledding and skiing, guests can partake in outdoor skating on the property’s hilltop rink.

The Standard, High Line, New York

Given the city’s space constraints, it’s no surprise that outdoor rinks in Manhattan are few and far between. The Standard has brought open-air skating to the Meatpacking District with a small, but festive, seasonal rink that’s replete with hot chocolate and tasty wintertime treats.


Make It Better

6 Ski Resorts 3 Hours or Less From Chicago

By Wendy Altschuler

A ski slope in your own backyard? Total pipe dream. A mountain within driving distance? Start packing up the car — each of these five wintry wonderlands is within three short hours of Chicago.

Wilmot Mountain

Wilmot, Wisconsin (Drive time from Chicago: 90 minutes)  

Wilmot has been a destination for family skiing, snowboarding, and tubing since 1938 — and a recent purchase by Vail Resorts has seen a whopping $13 million in improvements, ensuring that its future is bright. New perks include three four-person chairlifts, a high-speed rope tow in the terrain park, two new lifts in the beginner’s area, an upgraded Base Lodge, and a new kids’ ski and snowboard school.

The Mountain Top at Grand Geneva Resort &Spa

Lake Geneva, Wisconsin (Drive time: 90 minutes)

There’s something for skiers of all ages and abilities at this 30-acre family-friendly ski destination at Lake Geneva’s iconic Grand Geneva Resort. Featuring three chairlifts and two carpet lifts, easy equipment rental, lessons for beginners, and night skiing, the Mountain Top is a one-stop shop for a whirlwind weekend on the slopes. For even more winter fun, try some sledding and ice skating, and be sure to warm up with a hot meal or drink by the fire at Leinenkugel’s Mountain Top Lodge.

Alpine Valley Resort

Elkhorn, Wisconsin (Drive time: 2 hours)  

Park your poles here to enjoy over 90 skiable acres with 20 runs — including Big Thunder, a steep run with a vertical 388-foot drop and Alpine, the resort’s longest run at 3,000 feet. Ski school for adults and kids is available for beginners of all ages, while experts can check out the flat bar, donkey rail, and corrugated tube at the terrain park. If that’s not enough to entice you, guests at Alpine Valley Resort can enjoy on-site ski-in and ski-out rooms (120 are available, including family suites), complete with bistro dining, free weekend movie nights, and an indoor pool and hot tub. No snow? No worries — Alpine Valley will make some.

Cascade Mountain

Portage, Wisconsin (Drive time: 3 hours)  

Calling all thrill-seekers! This hot spot near Wisconsin Dells boasts four terrain parks with several obstacles, a super pipe and halfpipe, and 10 black-diamond runs with steep descents and mogul fields. But you don’t have to be hardcore to appreciate the place, as the mountain is also home to plenty of beginner slopes (kids under 12 ski free!), a tubing park, and shorter runs.

Devil’s Head Resort

Merrimac, Wisconsin (Drive time: 3 hours)  

Fun fact: This full-service resort — home to one of the state’s highest mountains — is located in Baraboo Bluffs, which was formed by glaciers over a billion years ago. Amenities include a large ski pro-shop, twice-daily groomed trails, long and wide runs,500-foot vertical rise, accredited ski instructors, a terrain park with tubes and jumps, and available cross-country skiing.

Chestnut Mountain Resort

Galena, Illinois (Drive time: 3 hours)

Nestled right next to historic Galena and overlooking the Mississippi River, you’ll find 19 ski trails and a seven-acre terrain park with 25 rails and structures. Everything you need is right on site: rooms; an indoor pool, sauna and hot tub; three restaurants with contemporary cuisine and craft beer; children’s programs; and ski runs for all levels.


Modern Luxury CS – November 2017

A Grand Time

By Sarah Ryan

New luxury villas at the Grand Geneva Resort & Spa provide a crazy oasis that is perfect for a fall long-weekend escape from city life.

When fall sets in, long-weekend jaunts outside the city to experience the colors of the season are a must, and the charming Grand Geneva Resort & Spa in Lake Geneva, Wis. – situated merely 110 minutes from the city – offers more than its share of festive activities as the weather cools (everything from horseback riding to scenic hiking to that last round of golf before temperatures dip). While the historic property has long been a mainstay for fans of the region, a multi-million-dollar renovation, providing 29 lavishly appointed villas, has added to the resort’s appeal.

The new villas – which range from suite-like studios to expansive three-bedroom properties – have a luxurious home-away-from-home setup and cozy ambiance. Private outdoor patios, gas fireplaces, large kitchens with stone countertops and full-size stainless steel appliances (the resort’s grocery delivery service will certainly come in handy), and outdoor strange for clubs and skis make the spacious accommodations as practical as they are luxurious.

Separate from the main resort, the villas offer welcome privacy, through resort restaurants and the Geneva Club (an exclusive amenities lounge) are a short drive away. Revel in the seclusion and opt to indulge in services from the resort’s celebrated WELL Spa + Salon in your villa. Exclusive to villa clients, the North Shore package ($260) is a 75-minute service including dry brush exfoliation and a massage or facial, and the Day on the Lake package ($210) includes a blowout and makeup application, perfect for if you feel like venturing out. But with these villas, you are likely to sign up for a relaxing nights in. Studio villas form $339, one bedroom-villas from $429, two-bedroom villas from $509, three-bedroom villas from $639, 7036 Grand Geneva Way, Lake Geneva, Wis.,



Hotels Magazine – October 2017

The New Revenue Managers

By Juliana Shallcross

Data analytics may be the new future, but specialized skills – and hefty investment – are required.

Today’s revenue managers have an astounding amount of information at their fingertips to help determine room pricing and to maximize revenue, but combing through all this data in an efficient manner can be a full-time job.

A single data source can have up to 30 attributes. Indeed, that seems to be the common gripe from revenue managers about data — the sheer amount of it is so time-consuming to review that it can ultimately backfire.

“You can spend thousand of hours analyzing the data, but then you pass the time to make the right decision,” says Erick Viera, revenue director of the Fairmont Mayakoba in Mexico. A typical day for Viera involves reviewing reports about pricing, forecasting and demand, then making decisions based on those reports, studying the results and finally, communicating those outcomes with his executive team.

More automation?

The need for data analysts is a looming concern for the hospitality industry, especially as pricing becomes increasingly set using analytical models. According to a survey of revenue managers by Cornell University’s Center for Hospitality Research, analytical models are expected to be the top-rated approach to determining pricing, followed by segment-based pricing and then CRM.

Additionally, the survey found that 37% of revenue managers believe that the field will become more automated with analytics. To that end, the report found that future revenue managers will need analytical skills more than they will a background in reservations or rooms.

In recent years, hotel giants such as AccorHotels and Marriott International have carved out specific positions for data scientists and analysts to evaluate all the information being collected from their hotels (and from their competitors), as well as to create and implement pricing models based on all that data. Last summer, Bethesda, Maryland-based Host Hotels & Resorts, which owns 96 properties with 54,000 rooms, created its own enterprise analytics division, of which revenue management is a part.

Yet smaller companies and independent hotels without such deep pockets often are stuck relying on software solutions to capture and analyze data, typically from their property management systems or their distribution channels. But even those may not do the job.

Tim Kayser, area director of revenue management at the Grand Geneva Resort & Spa in Wisconsin, says his resort has too many different areas of revenue for one solution to manage.

“You need software, but it’s difficult to find one that does it all for you,” he says.

Finding value

Matt Busch, a partner at Revenue Analytics, which creates revenue management strategies for companies using cloud-based predictive models, says that only large franchisors with 50 properties or more, along with the big hotel chains, can really get the value of an in-house data analyst.

“At the hotel level, it’s really hard to justify that type of expense of a data scientist and to attract that talent,” says Busch, who previously worked as director of global pricing strategy for InterContinental Hotels Group.

As a result, Kayser works with different department heads at the resort to determine strategies for pricing and revenue. The property also is moving toward centralizing revenue management for the various departments, from food and beverage to spa and golf.

“It lets them take care of the customer and do the job they do best,” he says. “And it lets us, people who are more analytical, do the marketing, analysis and strategy.”

Centralizing revenue for the hotel is another shift that’s expected for the future of hospitality — which ultimately means more data for revenue managers to sift through.

What’s necessary?

Whether a hotel hires a data analyst to reel in the different nets of information or whether it keeps data gathering on the list of job responsibilities for a revenue manager, one way to ease the burden is to determine which data is absolutely necessary.

“One guest with one stay can leave over 100 different data points. It can become a sea of unmanageable data,” Busch says. “If you can’t manage it, you can’t model it perfectly.”

Still, the future of revenue management may not be completely run by algorithms or machines. Kayser says the data analyst, whether it is a human or a software, gives the information to develop a strategy, but the revenue manager is the one who actually executes it. Viera, of Fairmont Mayakoba, echoes that sentiment.

“I would like a system that gives me the optimal price based on internal and external data but with my daily interaction,” he says. “This is important. Because at the end of the day, it’s just a system.”



Midwest Living

Fun-ctional Meetings

Bliesure’ travel has become more and more popular over the years. Part of this travel style now often includes bringing family members, significant others, or friends along. Those looking to intermix family fun with business travel enjoy the waterpark concept as a favorite family outing year-round.

“Families” delight in the wide range of activities offered at Timber Ridge,” expressed Mark Fenton, General Manager of Timber Ridge Lodge & Waterpark. Located in Lake Geneva, WI, this Midwest waterpark resort is impressing bliesure travelers. Its 50,000-sq-ft. indoor/outdoor waterpark, Moose Mountain Falls, is home to multiple pools, slides, a lazy river, several hot tubs, and a new, musically inspired waterslide, Avalanche Falls.

Fenton provided details on this new attractions, “Only the second slide of its kind in the country, kids can get their groove on by jamming out to favorite tunes while swooshing down Avalanche Falls. Fun song themes include kids’ movie songs, pop paradise, country waves, and favorite tunes from Timber Ridges’s mascot, Bruce the Moose. In addition to singing to their favorite songs, kids will love the colored lights on their way down for a fun, concert-like experience. Each theme will rotate three to four songs, which means that every ride down the slide can bring a new experience.”

At Thumper Pond, located in Ottertrail, MN, guests enjoy a 12,000-sq.-ft. center featuring two, three-story waterslides, an activity pool with basketball hoops and volleyball net, and an 18-person whirlpool. The center also offers a zero-entry, activity pool with water features for younger children.

Toddler swim areas have increased throughout waterparks. At Grizzly Jack’s Grand Bear Falls Indoor Waterpark, in Utica, IL, every age is accommodated. From the Kid’s Ranger Station to the wave pool and lazy river to the tube slide, generations can enjoy respite while traveling with a guest on business.

Be assured, safety and cleanliness are high ranking priorities at all waterpark facilities. As a green-certified hotel, Timber Ridge uses ultraviolet light to help reduce the amount of chemicals used in the water. In addition, the use of large fans help circulate air to eliminate the need for air conditioning and LED lighting is used throughout the waterpark for vast efficiency.

If attendees need to remain dry for a time, many other activities can be found at waterpark resorts. Timber Ridge offers horseback riding, 12 indoor rock walls and access to the Adventure Center, which provides the tools for family mountain biking, disc golf courses, hiking trails, sand volleyball courts, archery, and picnic and recreation areas. And if that isn’t enough, the resort also houses a 3,600-sq.-ft. arcade. Thumper Pond guests can engage in many seasonal activities, including golf, fishing, ice fishing, and cross-country skiing. Those in Illinois, will enjoy Grizzly Jack’s Grand Bear Resort’s many family extras, such as Annie’s Little Pots, a ceramic painting studio, family craft times, Grizzly Jack’s & Grand Bear’s Story Time, Canyon Creek Mini Golf, and family movie time.

No matter the season, family getaways help foster work/life balance. Give your attendees the opportunity to gain knowledge and create family memories by utilizing a great Midwest waterpark resort for your next meeting or event.


Southern Living

Midwestern Getaways Your Southern Girlfriends Will Love

By Perri Ormont Blumberg

Deadwood, South Dakota

Frontierswoman Calamity Jane first rolled into Deadwood in 1876 with some of her friends, and women have been heading there to recharge ever since. The town has been designated a National Historic Landmark, and there’s so much to do: gambling girls can enjoy testing their luck at Gold Dust Casino & Hotel and the active crew can hit The Mickelson Trail via bike, horseback, or foot under the watch of spruce and ponderosa pine forests.

For more information, visit

Columbus, Ohio

It’s not a stretch to call Columbus the “Nashville of the Midwest.” Beyond a vibrant songwriting community (catch rising stars at Natalie’s Coal Fired Pizza), you’ll see live acts at many restaurants, jazz clubs, and various venues around town. Musicians also dot the street during Gallery Hop, a monthly tradition of celebrating art after hours in the Short North Arts District. For lodging, swap Music City’s trendy Germantown for low-key German Village. There, you can stay at German Village Guest House in the heart of this district where brick-lined blocks hug historic buildings. The girls can take a floral crown or bouquet class at newly opened Flowers & Bread which combines both of those favorites fresh from the soil and oven, respectively—plus coffee—under one roof. We’d be remiss if we didn’t send you to Katalina’s, a hybrid of Southern and Latin food, where the Nutella-filled pancake balls will convince you to book your encore trip.

For more information, visit

Stillwater, Minnesota

The inviting mid-1800s downtown, which runs parallel to the St.Croix River (read:sunset booze cruise), has more than 70 stores pedaling crafting supplies, antiques, home decor, spices, candy, and more. Take Stillwater by foot with a guided food tour or throw on apron and cook up a storm during a hands-on class at Cooks of Crocus Hill. Take a knitting or crocheting lesson at Darn Knit Anyways, and don’t miss the homemade turtle fudge at Tremblay’s Sweet Shop. For lodging, snag a block of rooms at The Lowell Inn, which was founded in 1927, and is on the National Historic Register.

For more information, visit

Door County, Wisconsin

Dangle your Southern toes over the crystal waters of Sturgeon Bay as the crew gathers at this lively vacation spot. In addition to a wealth of waterfront activities, a fan-favorite in “The Door” is cherry picking, since the climate and soil here are as good as it gets. Speaking of the fruit, you’ll never forget a Cherry Train Tour on Washington Island, a year-round island with a quirky culture and traditions ranging from fish boils to literary festivals. Book a stay at Ridges Inn in the town of Baileys Harbor and grab a drink at former general store and butcher shop, The Blue Ox. For an unforgettable excursion, rent bikes or mopeds from Edge of Park and cruise over the gravel on the (relatively flat) Sunset Trail in Peninsula State Park.

For more information, visit

Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Time has a way of slowing down amidst the ten acres of grapevines at Cedar Ridge Winery & Distillery. Let afternoon tastings linger into dinner over a few wood-fired Three Little Pigs and Truffled Mushrooms pizzas. Catch a show at the splendid Paramount Theatre—upcoming acts include The Avett Brothers and comic Rodney Carrington. If your travels take you to Palisades-Kepler State Park consider booking a cabin or two (each hold four) where the group can cook supper together after a day on the trails. If connecting with nature isn’t your thing, try the Belmont Hill Victorian Bed & Breakfast reminiscent of a grand 19th-century estate you’d spot in Charleston. Meet y’all at the farmers market!

For more information, visit

Petoskey area, Michigan

Natural beauty is at every turn in a motley collection of Great Lake State resort towns, including Boyne City, Petroskey, Harbor Springs, and Bay Harbor dotting Lake Michigan’s Little Traverse Bay. If you love a good Main Street, head to Boyne, which is also the perfect excuse for booking a spa treatment at Boyne Mountain Resort. Don’t miss the Victorian architecture, the Historic Gaslight District, and the scenic water views in Petoskey proper. To stay a stone throw’s away from it all, check into Stafford’s Perry Hotel. For our favorite group excursion  for the gals, venture on the Ernest Hemingway’s trail. Sure, it’s no Key West, but the writer had a summer house on Walloon Lake and there’s a lot of fascinating history to unearth.

For more information, visit

Winona, Minnesota

You may be more familiar with Southern stretches of the Mississippi River, but Winona gives travelers plenty of reasons to explore its Northern bluffs. Snap a group picture at Garvin Heights Overlook while the dirt on your hiking boots is still fresh. For lunch, enjoy a spread on one of the picnic tables or stay at ground level and enjoy an old-fashioned meal at Lakeview Drive Inn, where the root beer is served in an old-fashioned frosted mug. For a city of around 27,000, Winona’s Minnesota Marine Art Museum well exceeds expectations with waterway-themed paintings from Van Gogh, Monet, Matisse, Picasso, and others. For a midday pick-me-up, it’s hard to outdo a fresh doughnut at Bloedows (we recommend the Bavarian Cream-filled pastry). And for a solid night’s rest, you can’t beat the Alexander Mansion B&B, which dates back to the 1880s, and may very well inspire some Victorian-style renovations at your own home.

For more information, visit

Abilene, Kansas

On June 22nd, 1945, Dwight D. Eisenhower said, “The proudest thing I can claim is that I am from Abilene.” After visiting this welcoming small town, you’ll see why. If you can time it, visit during the twice yearly (April and October) Reitz & Rust Vintage Market. There, you can scout over 200 vendors selling antiques and art, as well as tour quirky vintage campers during the Vintage Camper Show. If you can’t schedule your trip around market-time, there is still plenty of antiquing to do (Abilene is home to more than 150 antique shops). Other local favorite to-dos include the Abilene and Smoky Valley dinner train (arrive early to see the Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum) or dine at Three One One, called the “Key West of the Midwest”, which serves hits like mahi mahi tacos and yes, wonderful key lime pie. Another evening, book a table at Brookville Hotel for their famed family-style fried chicken dinners rounded out by baking powder biscuits and sweet-and-sour slaw. Come bedtime, get comfortable at Engle House Bed and Breakfast, a restored home from 1910.

For more information, visit

Mackinac Island, Michigan

Enjoy a slower pace on this Lake Huron oasis, where you can only get around on foot, bike, or horse and buggy. For group getaways, consider timing your travels around the  annual Lilac Festival, which runs every June for 10 days.  In addition to wine tastings, live concerts, a 10k race, and giant parade, you can also wacth the coronation of the Lilac Queen and Court, much like San Antonio’s famed Fiesta. Don’t skip town without paying a visit to Fort Mackinac, an 18th century fortress on the bluff, which offers regular tours and exhibits. For our absolute favorite way to spend an evening, relax on an Adirondack chair and savor the sunset at Mission Point, an 18-acre resort. For larger groups craving more privacy, consider their pet-friendly Straits Lodge, which is also located closer to town.

For more information, visit

Oak Park, Illinois

You’d never guess you were only 10 miles outside of downtown Chicago in this town brimming with architectural marvels, independently-owned shops, and small-town hospitality. Check out the world’s largest collection of Frank Lloyd Wright architecture at the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio,  and then scope out Unity Temple, one of his recently restored works. While in town, bookworms should definitely plan a visit to Ernest Hemingway’s Birthplace and Museum, a marvelously maintained Victorian home where the novelist was born. Meanwhile, green thumbs should consider a trip to the Oak Park Conservatory to delight in a vast assortment of flora and fauna. Everybody will enjoy a meal at Citrine for Mediterranean-inspired bites and $6 cosmos and martinis on Wednesdays for Ladies Night. Southerners will also feel right at home at The Carleton of Oak Park, where orders of crab cakes and gumbo fly out of the kitchen at Poor Phil’s.

For more information, visit

Rapid City, South Dakota

There’s more to the Rapid City and Black Hills area than checking Mount Rushmore off of your bucket list, though you can certainly do that, too. Kick off quality time with a festive dinner at kōl, where you can watch your food being made in a 10,000 pound coal-fired oven. For a night cap, we’re torn between Blind Lion, a basement speakeasy inspired by the roaring 20s and Vertex Sky Bar, an elegant rooftop bar at the recently renovated Hotel Alex Johnson. The next day, hit the rolling prairies and take in the views at Custer State Park via an open-air Buffalo Jeep Tour. End your trip with your best girls by your side and 7,500 stars above at Badlands National Park for a stargazing session.

For more information, visit

Hayward, Wisconsin

Snow lovers will enjoy this easygoing Northwestern town in the Badger State. In the winter, set your sights and skis on the Birkie Trail, a 62-mile path that weaves you through breathtaking forests. In the fall, swap skis and snowshoes for mountain bikes or sneakers as you take in the foliage. There are plenty of great camping spots in Hayward, or for a wilderness-lite experience, reserve a few rooms at LCO Casino, Lodge and Convention Center. Wherever you stay, enjoy a taste of home at Old Southern BBQ, with some of the most glorious ribs North of the Mason-Dixon.

For more information, visit

Indianapolis, Indiana

If you’re in Indy on a Sunday during football season, you’re tailgating. Start by wandering down Georgia Street—even if you don’t have a ticket to catch the Colts, it’s always a can’t-miss party. Afterwards, head to Slippery Noodle Inn, a historic venue with live jazz and blues nightly. Once a stop on the Underground Railroad, you’ll want to head to the back bar for the best people watching and dancing. There’s no finer way to recover from a spirited evening than sitting on the patio at Gallery Pastry Shop with hot chocolate and macaroons. Rest up in the Broad Ripple neighborhood (it’s only 10 minutes North of downtown) at Hotel Broad Ripple. They frequently host movie nights in the backyard and have a cozy wine bar / living room downstairs perfect for reliving memories from yesteryear with old pals.

For more information, visit

Lake Geneva, Wisconsin

That time your crew went ice skating, hopped aboard a Christmas train, and caught a magic and illusion show all in the same day? Safe to say you’ll be talking about it for years to come. In this friendly resort town you could also easily spend a few days never leaving your hotel. Try the Grand Geneva Resort & Spa where a three bedroom villa with fireplace is perfect for lounging. When you’re ready to toast your bond of friendship “off campus,” journey to Apple Barn Orchard & Winery, an open orchard and farm where you can pick your own strawberries, apples and pumpkins seasonally.

For more information, visit

Corydon, Indiana

First stop: Get your sugar rush at Butt Drugs, a charming old-fashioned pharmacy with soda fountain. Explore Harrison County’s wonderful wineries, with a country backdrop that rivals the best of Southern wedding dreams. Count sheep at Kintner House Inn (if you’re squeezing in last-minute girlfriends, one roll-away bed or cot is free), ideally situated in the downtown area. If you dare to venture below street-level, take a tour with Indiana Caverns of Indiana’s longest cave. When you resurface, gather your spelunkers for tea and scones at the Darling Old Capitol Tea Room.  P.S. It’s no surprise that Corydon will remind you of the South, it’s only a half an hour outside of Louisville.

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