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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

We Found A Slice Of Paradise In Illinois! {review}

Every year around this time, my family likes to get away and spend some time together as a family. The winter weather and the season's busyness always seems to push us to get out of our home and relax. Now, we're not really picky about where we stay so long as our 2 children will enjoy themselves. But how many of you know that it's even better when there's something there for the grown-ups to enjoy too?

Well, this year we were invited to kick back and enjoy ourselves at Keylime Cove in Gurnee, Illinois. This hotel is just north of Chicago and is very close to Six Flags Amusement Park {more on that later}. We invited my sister and her family to join us there {she lives about 12 hours away from me} and were all set to enjoy a big, family vacation. Unfortunately, my nieces were sick and my sister wasn't able to get them out to visit with us. Truthfully, I was bummed out but I'm so happy with my stay at Keylime Cove that I'm sure we will try a group gathering there again sometime.

Keylime Cove is a little slice of Paradise. There's a "beachy" feeling that welcomes all it's visitors to enjoy themselves and with all it's lights and bright colors, it's easy to get swept up in that feeling right away.

These photos are of the main street in the hotel. I saw it as I entered the lobby. This is not only picturesque, but it's full of shops, candy, and even coffee. {I highly recommend the coffee.} In these shops, I found things that would help me if I forgot to pack something, I found great gift ideas, fun swim apparel and accessories, and have I mentioned the candy yet?  The overall design is made to make visitors feel like they've arrived in Key West, Florida. I have to admit, they did a wonderful job and I loved the attention to detail. I really did feel as if I were further away than 6 hours from my home and certainly didn't feel like I was in a resort just north of Chicago.

Now, about those rooms...

I really enjoyed the colorful walls and wall lanterns as I walked down to my room for the first time with my family. 

And here is where we stayed. At check-in, we were given wrist bands to wear. There was a specific kind for adults and another for the kiddos. The kiddos basically wear the band to get into the water park but the adults wear a wrist band that acts as access to the water park as well as a room key, and even a way to charge items to your room while you have fun in the hotel. All we had to do was rub our band on the door lock and it opened up! I was SO impressed and SO grateful that we didn't have to keep track of room keys when we headed out of our room to play. 

You better believe we enjoyed jumping on the King sized bed in the Master Bedroom! Well, we enjoyed it until Alex nearly fell off the bed head first. Then we called that game off. Luckily for Alex, he got to sleep in the second bedroom in a Queen sized bed. And when he woke up laying sideways, it was clear that he was really enjoying the extra space. For Eliana, the hotel had a Pack 'N Play waiting for us in the room. It was so nice to not have to pack something that big in the van. 

The suite actually had 2 Queen beds in that second bedroom and a door that accessed the bathroom. {Another bathroom is tucked inside the Master Bedroom also.} There was also a sofa bed in the living room making this a suite that could easily fit 8 people. I enjoyed the cabinets and wet bar in the room along with the table and chairs. We like to go grocery shopping and get foods for breakfast and lunch to save on spending and we easily found a place for our things there. 

The bright colors in the room tied in with the vibe I picked up in the lobby of the resort. Yes, I was in paradise and I was so ready to relax and enjoy myself here. 

The water park was a warm 84 degrees and I couldn't get enough of the decor. It was so inviting and again made me feel as if I were miles and miles from where I was. In the picture above, you'll see the Sand Bar for those who like Martinis and fun drinks like that while you relax by the pool. There's also a restaurant called Sharky's Big Bites where visitors can find burgers, fries, smoothies, pretzels, and more. Mmmmm. It was nice to know that I didn't have to leave the water park if I wanted to grab a bite to eat. 

There are life jackets available for little ones so I signed out a couple our first day there. There was also a few staff people making sure there were fresh, warm towels waiting for those who needed them. For the family, there are a lot of fun options. There was a kiddie pool {where I spent most of my time} with 3 water slides, 5 water slides for bigger kids to enjoy, a wave pool, a lazy river to float down, a hot tub for adults only, and a play tower {Toukie's Big Deluge} where all kinds of water play can happen and a big pineapple bucket fills itself to overflowing again and again. 

I would like to point out that along with a lot of fun, is a staff that is well trained and ready for any emergency should one arise. They are tested regularly and are required to exceed expectations on their tests. Also, Keylime Cove uses Ozone Technology in its water park to ensure the cleanest and safest water for the public to enjoy. The general manager, Dale, explained to me that many hotels using just chlorine in their water parks have to close down once a year to give the water park a thorough cleaning. At Keylime Cove, they haven't had to close down the water park once in the 3 years it has been open. The ozone technology keeps the pools so clean that you could literally eat off the floor of them. 

While I'm on the topic of fun, let's talk about Leapin' Lizards, Enchanted Lagoon, Rip Tide Reef Arcade, and Pinkie's Pet Palace. Leapin' Lizards is the perfect place to bring little ones who are a bit worn down from the water park but still want to have fun. They have activities going every day, art supplies that are free to use, games, books to read, a movie to watch, and special projects that cost between $5 and $12. While Alex enjoyed the books and the games, Eliana enjoyed writing on the chalkboard and building blocks. 

Enchanted Lagoon is located just across from Leapin' Lizards and is the new spa created with little girls in mind. They have stations for manicures and pedicures but the highlight is where little girls can create their own lip gloss. True Story. They can pick the color they like and glitter as well. When Eliana's a bit bigger, I'll have to get her down there to make her own lip gloss.

You can see, these little girls were all very excited to be making their lip gloss. :) This just put a big smile on my face to witness first hand. 

In the same area, and down a few steps {or down a ramp if need be} is the Riptide Reef Arcade. The games here are the top of the line with a good variety for all who play. There are plenty of games to win tickets on and other games to just enjoy for the sake of enjoying. We had a blast playing games, getting tickets, and turning in our tickets for prizes. The person staffed at the counter made Alex's night when he gave him a race car. The smile on his face was priceless.

Now, I don't have any pictures to show you of Pinkie's Pet Palace. We chose to skip this as Alex didn't seem interested in it and Eliana is a bit young to enjoy the experience. However, I can tell you that it's a place where children can create adorable, cuddly friends by choosing the one they like best, stuffing them full with fluff, and picking out clothes for them. It's a great way to create a memory to take on the road. 

Finally, I'd like to share with you about Paradise Mist Spa. I was given a personal tour of the spa and didn't want to leave because it was such a beautiful and peaceful environment. {A mom could get used to that.} The rooms are gorgeous and the Spa offers a number of treatments for both individuals and couples. Would you believe I've never been to a spa myself? I know... The hubster must have caught on to my carrying on about Paradise Mist Spa because he came back to the room with a list of treatments and told me to call and get an appointment {Squeeee!}. I went down to get a Pure Fiji Manicure. This included all natural and coconut oil based products. I loved the hot towel soak and the hot rocks rubbed on my hands and forearms. H.E.A.V.E.N. Beyond the manicure itself, the staff was lovely and I enjoyed chatting with Jadzia about her experience at Keylime Cove during my manicure. 

I feel like I have way more to tell you but I'll end with a few more incentives that may send you out for your own piece of paradise at Keylime Cove. 
  • Visitors can get a pass to Gold's Gym {across the parking lot from the hotel} and have full access to classes, trainers, and childcare. The hubster tried this and loved it. 
  • On May 22nd, Keylime Cove is teaming up with US Track and Field to host a 1/2 marathon/8K followed by a luau. If you love running, make this your excuse to visit Keylime. 
  • And since 6 flags is 3 blocks away, Keylime Cove {the official resort of 6 flags} offers package deals and complimentary shuttle service to and from the park. Now, if you ask me, a discount on park tickets and saving $25 on parking is incentive enough to stay at Keylime Cove. 

Overall, we were very pleased with the service of the staff at Keylime and loved all the different kinds of fun they offered my family. I witnessed moments when a customer would get snippy with someone on staff but I never witnessed a moment when the staff members didn't handle themselves professionally and gracefully. {Good work, Keylimers!}

The dinners we ate there were very good and we were pleased to see that not every restaurant cost a lot to eat at. We loved enjoying our nightly ice cream scoops and morning Starbucks coffees. And did I mention the candy?

** Thanks to Keylime Cove and it's PR firm, who gave us a complimentary 2 night's stay in exchange for an honest post. I received no other compensation. My opinion is mine and mind alone. Others may not have the same experience or agree with my opinion. Thanks also to Dale, the general manager, for a personal tour of the hotel. **



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