On our most recent mini-break, we ended up quite sick and hardly left the hotel – the Holiday Inn in Barrie, ON. The kids sobbed when it was time to go and declared it the best vacation ever.
That right there is everything you need to know about family travel and the importance of quality time together. And also the importance of a family friendly hotel that makes you feel welcome and meets your needs when things don’t go exactly (or entirely!) as planned. My kids taught me we don’t have to go anywhere exotic or do exciting stuff all the time. Mostly they just want to hang out.
This has been a particularly brutal and frigid winter. As with last year, we had every intention of making the most of it – bundling up and getting outside to play in the snow. Extra EXTRA cold temps made that extra challenging, but still we skated almost every weekend and tobogganed when we could. But thanks to the invitation from Holiday Inn, we had extra special plans for Family Day weekend in February. We were heading to Barrie! The kids were going to get up on skis for the first time, we were going to try snow tubing, it was to be a textbook Canadian winter weekend of fun…
But a rotten cold virus had other plans for us, so we hardly left the hotel at all.
Luckily my mother-in-law came along, and our connecting rooms allowed us all to have the space we needed to sprawl out and also the necessary privacy as well.
In between alternating doses of Advil and Tylenol, we’d head down to the pool (“the best pool ever!”) for a swim, warm up in the hot tub, and then back upstairs to bed for a nap and some Olympic Games watching. And then back downstairs to the pool once we were all rested up again. Tattingers is their in-house restaurant that offers up a great buffet breakfast, and a prime-rib buffet on Saturday nights. Breakfast was included for us and kids eat free at Tattingers off the kids’ menu, or they will do a half-portion of any menu item for half price.
All our needs were met within the walls of the hotel, but we were going a bit stir crazy. None of us could fathom the idea of being cold for any length of time, so we decided to go see a movie. Ironically, Frozen. For our last night we decided to eat out, and since the restaurants were all so busy in town we were actually wishing we’d just decided to head back to Tattingers for dinner.
So our super-fun winter wonderland weekend was a wash out, but it was not a bust. Our rooms were spacious, clean, and comfortable. The wifi was strong and free (just like the True North!). The pool was really great and the kids declared it the best ever (they’re a fickle lot, though, they said that about Jamaica too). But the gut-wrenching sobs from the kids when it was time to go home told me that our weekend was actually a big success. We spent quality family time together. We rested because we had to. And even though that blasted cold virus clung to me for almost a month afterwards, we realized that we probably needed the rest.
We are sufficiently winter-ed out, so it looks like next year will be the year the kids get up on skis. In the meantime that doesn’t mean we have to wait until next winter to head back up to Barrie. Nearby Horseshoe Valley has a great set up for summer fun. And there are lots of things to do that don’t involve snow or sliding down it. And since Barrie is just over an hour from Toronto we can make the most of our days off by not spending hours of transit time in the car.
And full disclosure – this was not the first time I’ve stayed at the Holiday Inn in Barrie. For Canada Day 1992, I was working at the now-closed Molson Park at Edgefest – the one where Spinal Tap played. Needless to say the hotel has been extensively renovated since then. So while I may wish I still looked like twenty-year-old me, the Holiday Inn does not resemble its 1992 self. It has been nicely renovated and totally well-maintained. This year marks the 30th anniversary of This Is Spinal Tap and there’s rumours of a tour. Think we can get Molson Park going again?