Sunday, November 11, 2007

Shoehorned Into A Tourist Brochure

Summer. The Muskoka Resort Experience. It's one way to smooth down those big city jitters, shoehorned into a tourist brochure. Ahh, the good life. The satisfaction rating is 90%. I know from friends who work in the industry. The other 10% gripe all the time about everything, usually to get an upgrade, a discount or a freebie. Mind you an oasis of grass in the woods, does depend on its own infrastructure, and is subject to things like storms that knock out power, so no TV, no Internet, even cell phones can go dead. Water can start to gurgle out of your tap and go rusty brown, cold and brown and trickle to a stop. Toilets don't flush. The local fauna can also intrude. A strange animal in the night scratching your window, a creepy nerve wracking growl, a friendly mouse scurrying over your bed, and especially in spring, wasps, mosquitoes, blackflys and noseeums can find their way in. Even with all that, spring is as busy as summer, and if you don't have a reservation, you could spend all night and all day looking for another place. Accommodations vary greatly. In keeping with the cottage theme, you can get bungalows masquerading as double cottages, or strips of motel units dolled up like the royal stables, or in the better spots a real cottage of your own, or at the lower end a corner of a 4-plex cottage or maybe a cottage suite with Muskoka room they didn't explain, wasn't cottagey, except for the Muskoka room, and not in the woods but in the reception center, the actual hotel part. All this can be forgiven once you're there, especially if they give you an upgrade, a discount (very rare, so don't make a scene) or a freebie. Another thing that can knock your socks off is the high end pricing for everything extra, whether it's orange juice and a bag of chips at the tuck shop, or of course the restaurant, where you can't say no thanks to the prices. Beware the ruinous game of golf at their club, usually somewhat discounted since you're a guest. And there are rules. If you've rented a powerboat, your resort might not let you dock it. They're noisy after all. If you're thinking of dropping in on another resort down on the same lake say, well their guests come first, so wait in line or don't bother because they're very exclusive. Even with blazer and captain's cap and your yacht in tow many won't let you dock for lunch. If you're driving it's not going to help unless you squeeze a reservation out of them on the phone first. The smart thing to do is, if you're in the lurch, tip big. The fun thing I'd say would be to hang out at two resorts and golf courses, so split your party and put your friends in the other one so you can pull off the guest of a (temporary) member.

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