As if we don't travel enough in our professional lives my fiancee and I traveled to the "Iowa Great Lakes" area known as "Boji" by the natives, http://www.okoboji.org, this past weekend for a mini-vacation with my brother's family. We stayed at Arrowwood (formerly Village East) which has historically been a lovely resort but I fear that "something is broken" since I left with the impression that guests are not getting value for money (or the owners are draining out as much cash as they can) as noted in these observations:
- The resort's on-site restaurant, Minerva's, was a bad experience for breakfast with slow service, cold food, and an unresponsive staff when I lodged my complaint thus they receive my first ever "0" rating out of 5.
- The lifeguard at the indoor pool was either sleeping or listening to music so from a liability and cost standpoint the resort would have been better off simply posting a "Swim at Your Own Risk" sign
- The on-site health club is nice but seems to be fading due to lack of new equipment and the need for some modernizing decor.
- Upon check out I complained about the restaurant quality again to which the desk staff simply smiled and said "ok" which was sad since I am a native Iowan and expect better.
- Arnold's Perk -- a local coffeeshop complete with mis-matched furniture and all things organic. The staff here clearly loved their work and the patrons all acted like one friendly family with other patrons including the two grandmothers who shared a couch with us and provided an overview of Boji for my fiancee. I got a chuckle out of this coffee shop's sign in the front door which said, "Friends don't let friends drink Starbucks" :)
- Nutty Bars -- a simple recipe of vanilla ice cream dipped in chocolate then rolled in crushed nuts but really damn tasty!! There are few things much better during the heat of July.
- Arnold's Park -- the local amusement park on West Lake Okoboji complete with rides for "kids" of all ages. My victory in the go-kart race against my brother will be cherished as my own version of NASCAR :)
- Gepetto's -- a fine dining restaurant that replaced Maxwell's in the Central Emporium. We had an excellent meal here of -- halibut, crab cake, filet mignon, and mushroom demi-glace chicken. The service, ambiance, and overall location were excellent. I rate them with a "4" on my 5 point scale.
- Taco House -- not the same without my buddy Kent dining with me at our old stomping ground but we our families had a great meal of soft shell tacos plus their famous "brown sauce". I am completely biased so will reward them with a "4" rating since it is an institution that I always have loved about Boji plus they have the largest collection of low cost Mexican art in the State of Iowa I believe :) Again, great staff here who enjoy their jobs -- amazing that this restaurant was not created by a government jobs program isn't it??
Enjoy your vacations,