CHECKING IN AND RESERVATIONS (3 of 5 Stars)
My family and another family stayed here this Memorial Day. We stayed in one of the log cabins, went on the horseback ride and did the first half of the 13 mile float trip on the Courtois River. I noted that they were somewhat more expensive than other sites, but all costs were up front on their website and their accommodations sounded better than some of their counterparts. As noted in other reviews, make sure you check their cancellation policy, it is very unforgivable if changes have to be made to any part of your trip (1 of 5 stars here). Upon our arrival, all vehicles had to be registered to be on the premises, which was free to do so but a little bit of a hassle, be sure to put the registration ticket visible in your car, security will stop you if you don't! We were surprised by the size and amount of people at the resort, it is huge and busy--looked perfect for a safe family vacation, but probably not the best spot for a romantic quiet getaway. Special touch was the hummingbird feeders and purple martin houses on the premises, I loved watching the birds! The security and cleanliness of the resort was exceptional (5 stars for this part). Check in took about 15-20 minutes to get through all of the paperwork, and we were then told that the cabins had no linens, something we weren't told when we made the reservations. The customer service rep apologized and said that the rep should have told us on the phone and linens were provided for us. The rep was very courteous, especially for how busy it was, but again a bit of a hassle just to check in (2 of 5 stars for checking in).
THE CABIN (4 of 5 Stars)
The cabin was very nice and clean on the inside and was even landscaped. There was a grill right outside and plenty of seating for seven of us that stayed, would probably be a bit cramped for more than 10. The only issue was the upstairs loft was a lot warmer than downstairs, I asked the front desk and they said that one of the beds might be blocking the upstairs vent, so after moving all of the beds around we found it and that solved the problem. There was a stove, oven, microwave, and fridge in the cabin, but no paper towels, eating or cooking utensils something we assumed would be included. I take partial blame for assuming this, but this fact is only listed at the bottom of one of the pages on their website in smaller print and we were not told by anyone when we made the reservations that we would have to provide these items made it quite a hassle for us.
HORSEBACK RIDING (4 of 5 stars)
I've done quite a bit of what I would call "tourist horseback riding" at a lot of national parks and resorts like this, that being said these horses were a bit more frisky than a lot of typical trail horses, but nothing too terrible. There was an older gentleman in our group and they had stairs for him to get on the horse with as well. One of our kid's horses kicked another one of our kid's horses during the ride and we had a couple people in our group really struggle to keep them in the trail line. For us, this made the ride more fun, but for someone with no riding experience at all might be a little scary. The trail guides were very nice and answered all of our questions and gave us a little info on the area but not more than a minute or two of information and history on the area, something I guess I was spoiled to from the national parks guides. There were turkeys and chickens at the stables and we got a real kick at listening to the turkeys gobble at each other, it was a very good time.
FLOAT TRIP (5 of 5 Stars)
All of the service people were incredibly friendly, from the bus driver who took us to and from the river, to the young men who we dropped off our canoes with. One of the members of our group left his lights on and the bus driver took his keys back, turned the lights off for him and left the keys at the front desk so he didn't have to go back and do it. We also noticed that as we were leaving the main lodge that the workers were having a safety meeting which is reassuring. We chose the 13 mile float on the Courtois River, but decided to get off at the half way point because of the weather, but we had an absolute blast. The canoes were fiber glass and very light, and the river was beautiful. We left at about 9:30 and we only saw two other groups the whole time on the river, but when we got out there were about 30-40 people being dropped off, so I suggest going early if you want to avoid the crowd. 2 of our 3 canoes tipped at one point during the trip in some of the faster and narrower points, but not a difficult route to maneuver. We were able at one point to reach in the water and pick up a red-eared glider (turtle) and the kids caught several tadpoles not to mention seeing huge fish in the water as we floated by. It was a great time. When we got back I changed at the boat house and was able to take a nice hot shower (it was a little on the cold side). The showers were coin operated, but the first one in line came on without putting quarters in so that's the one I used.
OVERALL VISIT (4 of 5 Stars)
Just a few changes by this resort and this place could easily be one of the best in the nation, period, but for now the few unnecessary hassles we faced I have to give this place a 4 of 5. We had a great time and are already planning on a longer stay next year, and now that we have an idea of how the place runs, we will be able to be much better prepared. Hope this helps!
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