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03.02.18

Travel Channel

8 of the Most Incredible Indoor Water Parks

By Erin Gifford

Timber Ridge Lodge & Water Park

Just two hours north of Chicago, Moose Mountain Falls at Timber Ridge Lodge & Water Park in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin is the place to go for 50,000 square feet of pools, slides, tubes and a lazy river. A new slide, Avalanche Falls, engages all the senses thanks to colored lights and energetic playlists that let riders rock out to their favorite tunes as they slide. When you’re ready to dry off, head to Crazy Coyotes Arcade for dozens of arcade games or enjoy daily activities, like family movies and arts and crafts.

Wilderness Resort

Wilderness Resort in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin, the self-proclaimed “Water Park Capital of the World,” may not be able to claim the largest indoor water park in the country, but it is the largest water park resort. The resort’s four indoor water parks make up over 250,000 square feet of wet and wild fun, and that doesn’t even include the four outdoor water parks at Wilderness Resort. Inside, ride the waves at the country’s largest indoor wave pool at Wild WaterDome or try the Midwest’s only slideboarding ride at Klondike Kavern.

Epic Waters Indoor Water Park

The brand new Epic Waters Indoor Water Park in Grand Prairie, Texas boasts 80,000 square feet of splash-worthy fun thanks to 11 water slides, like the Texas Twist and Yellowjacket Drop, as well as Lasso Loop, the tallest indoor Aqualoop ride in the country. A lazy river, mat racer slides and a water playground with geysers, sprinklers and a 300-gallon tipping bucket add to the fun. As a bonus, the water park has a retractable roof so you can enjoy the sunshine from inside the park on especially nice days.

03.02.18

Modern Luxury Men’s Book Chicago

Adventures: Back in the Swing

By David Zivan

Jack Nicklaus. Arnold Palmer. Lee Trevino. Perhaps you’ve heard of them? What you may not have known is that each of those legendary swingers designed courses at Lake Geneva. A longtime destination for Chicagoans seeking respite from city life, the area offers many pleasures, but none surpass the variety of its golf options – 11 courses in all. There’s The Brute, for instance: a 7,000-yard, par-72 danger zone area at the Grand Geneva Resort & Spa, where rates start at $79 and a hole-in-one challenge touts a $10,000 prize. Or, along Geneva National, enjoy stunning overlooks of Lake Como – but, as ever, we recommend you keep your head down. visitlakegeneva.com

02.07.18

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.

02.07.18

MSN.com

The most romantic weekend getaways in America

By Terry Ward

01.02.18

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.

Wintersköl
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.

SnowDays
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.

12.19.17

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 Hotels.com.

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 Hotels.com 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 Hotels.com. 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 CheapCarRental.net.

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 Hotels.com.) 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.

Methodology

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.

11.27.17

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.

11.27.17

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.

10.31.17

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., grandgeneva.com


 

10.09.17

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.”