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Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Taking Chances with Vacation

I must admit, when it comes to vacations, TheWife and I have a less than steallar track record. It is kind of funny (or is it "sad") that we have time and again, selected a vacation based on the information in brochures, on web sites, etc.

It really struck a chord with me when Busy Mom, in her post on the Mondo Condo said,
"So, armed with my established set of unrealistic expectations (our previously
mentioned accomodations were very, very nice), I set out to find us a new place
to go. It was weird having to fork over money for a place I'd never seen

I was struck because, despite liking to think myself an intelligent consumer, that this is exactly what we had been doing, and yet I never really thought twice about it. I had always based out disappointments on our "unrealistic expectations" rather than really considering the fact that perhaps the proprietors had "puffed up" our expectations with claims in their brochures that less than accurate.

So, have a learned a lesson through this? Ummm... sort of. I have learned to really pay attention to what a brochure is saying, and be wary appropriately. But other than that, I guess not. Because this year, if only in my own mind, we are taking what is the biggest "risk" on a vacation/resort being exactly what it claims to be.

They say (whomever "They" are), "You can never go home again." But what I am wondering is if you can vacation there. Back when I was a lad (you know in the days when Maxwell House was the king of coffee challenged only by Folgers which had "Flavor Crystals" and "Mountain Grown Aroma", watching a highly technical cop show meant Columbo, and Tuesdays were owned by "Happy Days", and wood panelling apparently belonged EVERYWHERE!), back in those days, the family would once a year escape the NY/NJ Metro area for a vacation in the Pocono Mountains at a resort called Sunset Hill. For a city boy like me, it was (oddly enough) a week in heaven. A week without television or newspapers or virtually any contact with the "outside world." It was a self-contained entertainment vacation with everything to keep the entire family busy on 100 acres of pristine land. As a kid you never wanted to leave, and since there were enough activities and the place was self-contained the parents were free to relax as the kids when from activity to activity and were actually rested by the end of the week. Sadly, when the proprietors retired, the place was shuttered.

Well, in looking for a vacation spot this year, and looking for something "different" from the usual trips down the Jersey Shore, I decided to look towards the Poconos once again for a vacation. In the barage of information I was subsequently sent from seemingly every spot in PA., I spied Chestnut Grove. And while once again forking over money without having seen the place, this is a bit different (I hope). You see the expectations they set here are not as sky high as some others. Take a look a the pictures of the rooms on their site. They are not promising some huge 5 star hotel kind of accomodations, what they are showing you is a simple room (with that same 70's style Wood panelling I mentioned earlier) where you can sleep at night. Nothing more, nothing less. The schedule of activities is virtually identical to those that I did way back when, right down to the resort softball game against a "rival" resort.

Emotionally, I am betting a LOT on this vacation. Financially not so much. Besides being quiet, it is actually far less expensive than many options within driving distance. But, I am hoping that this place can not only deliver on what they promise, but that it can live up to memories of vacations from my youth. I guess that qualifies as "unrealistic expectations" but I am willing to take that chance.

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