Repeat, Repeat!  We’ve got a thing going with doubling back on vacation locations.  It’s a neat idea to experience the same place as a couple, and then return for a trip with the kids.  Just as we pulled into the gated entry at the Abbey Springs, the snow began to fall.  The guard asked us for our rental information, gave us our clubhouse access cards and directed us to continue on Country Club Drive to our condo 601C.  

family vacation wi

Our first trip to Lake Geneva was in the summer of 2014, we were celebrating our nine year wedding anniversary.  You can read about our trip here in write up I did ranking the top five romantic weekend getaways in WI.  Lake Geneva is a minimal drive at about an hour and a half from Madison, and an hour and 45 minutes from Chicago.  This trip would be different with our kids and dog in tow, and in the midst of the first substantial snowstorm.  

sledding in lake geneva

Family Vacation Rental

We settled into our two-bedroom townhome unit which I found on VRBO.  The unit includes full access to the clubhouse, the use of a golf cart and it was a pet-friendly unit.   That is an amenity that we appreciated because we didn’t have to pay for or arrange pet care.  We brought our Bernedoodle Irie along for the trip.  As Irie sniffed the perimeter of our temporary estate, the girls negotiated who would get the top and bottom bunk for each night of our stay.  James trudged through the falling snow lugging in our bags, silk enclosed pillows while I unpacked the cooler, simultaneously mixing up our first cocktails in our yetis.

club house the abbey springs

When we are traveling as a family, I prefer to rent a condo, townhome or house so that we have a full kitchen.  Dining out for every meal with children is not only fiscally outlandish but also quite stressful because they are snackers who don’t want to sit still. They snuck their IPads into the bag on our second dinner out, but I wasn’t having it. I did let them play old maid while we waiting for the food.

The Rental

vrbo in lake geneva

The rental was decorated with a coastal theme,  canoe paddles flank the sofa.  The clock was enclosed in a lifebuoy pool ring.    A woven headboard in the master suite trimmed the queen bed and a large linen closet was in the corner of the room, equipped with a washer and dryer.  We were able to toss our swimsuits and towels in the dryer after swimming and reuse the towels for multiple visits to the clubhouse pool.  However, the washer had a sign that said it is not in service during the winter, which we thought was strange.   There was one tiny bathroom in the rental, which had a ceiling heater fan that kept it toasty.  The double vanity was exposed in the hallway that opens up to the main living room.  

vrbo in lake geneva

The rental was not expansive but it was meticulously clean.  There was only room for one cook in the kitchen.  Our biggest issue with the unit was that each room had a wall heater unit and with the winter storm we never got it to a comfortable state.  It was either too cold or too hot- and running the heaters made the air dry.  An additional space heater was onsite so the temperature consistency is clearly a known issue. James had to rotate the heater around to keep everyone warm.  The heater in the living room kicked on and off and it was particularly noisy!

The Wows

  • Clubhouse access
  • Pet-friendly Unit
  • Golf cart included with the unit (not utilized for winter)
  • Very Clean
  • The kitchen is stocked with lots of extras spices, oil spray, glad ware, aluminum, a bag of ice, coffee, etc. 
  • Kid’s room closet had helpful extras like life jackets, goggles, dog cage, a small table with kid’s height folding chairs.
  • Bunk beds, the girls loved the bunks.  They made forts and played games with the ladder.
  • Plenty of linens extra blankets, towels, and pillows.
  • Conveniently located to the clubhouse
  • Sliding doors to the patio from each room
clubhouse lake geneva

Room to improve

  • Temperature regulation throughout the unit
  • Wall heating units are loud and do not distribute heat evenly.
  • Washer unavailable in winter
  • Pots and Pans are not coated well and could be upgraded
  • Unit is small
  • The lighting is bad.  There are no ceiling lights in the bedrooms, they are lit by lamps.  The dated floodlights are attached to a rail in the middle of the living room.  They are positioned to directly pointed at you and leave dark spots, one of them was flickering and flashing.

The Clubhouse

The best part of this rental is access to the clubhouse. There were several areas to workout.  Different rooms with very nice equipment, pickleball courts, and an Olympic size indoor swimming room.  There was a library with books that you could rent.

We spent a lot of time in the game room.  I challenged James to an air hockey game.  The office sold $10 rolls of quarters, the girls split the roll and enjoyed hours of entertainment in the Arcade.  We all had a turn trying to procure the biggest prize from the various machines and ended up with a bunch of bouncy balls.

Winter Aquatics

Misha is getting so close to being able to truly swim.  It is always gratifying to see your child acquire a new skill but still need your presence to be brave enough to dive in.  The locker room was accommodating and we stowed our winter gear away, stripped down to our suits and cover-ups and moseyed into the warm aquatic arena.   The pool is ginormous and lined with blue lounging pool chairs.

the abbey springs resort

“I’ll swim to you, okay mommy?”  With her big brown eyes smashed behind the borrowed black goggles, you could see her light up with a spark of excitement radiating from within.  She was so proud of herself as she kicked her feet frantically, and pushed the warm water making her way towards me.  With each lap to the pool’s edge, I saw her building confidence in her ability to swim.  I added a little challenge taking two then three steps backward after she plunged in.  After an hour or so she was able to go a good stretch without assistance.  A group of nine ladies entered with yetis in their hands and congregated by the hot tub.   I wondered if they were on a girl’s trip or if they were there to celebrate a special occasion?

Golf Cart Sledding

vrbo in lake geneva

We brought our sleds to the property on the recommendation of the owners and took the girls out sledding on hole 14.  We later heard from a guest that hole 17 has the best hill.  It was the highlight of our trip.  Yes, there was some complaining about the distance we had to walk through the snow to reach our destination, but after a couple of pushes down the hill, there were squeals and laughing. I even jumped in racing, of course, turned into a competition.   James broke off the handle of one of the kid’s sleds running and jumping chest first to try and beat me down the hill.

My recommendations

On Sunday we grabbed Bloody Marys from the Clubhouse grille, which was located adjacent to the pool house.  The clubhouse is the best amenity of staying at this property and for that access, I would recommend a visit to the Abbey Springs.  I wouldn’t recommend this rental in the winter. If we didn’t have the heating factor, and if we made use of the golf cart amenity my opinion would likely be more positive.  While I would stay at this resort again, I would reserve a different unit.

To Eat & See

We had a delicious dinner at Anthony’s Steakhouse.  Our server has worked at the establishment for 30 years and the walls are lined with awards.  Misha ordered the crab leg appetizer with a baked potato on the side and the portion was very generous.  Giana and I shared a 16 oz ribeye steak which was also scrumptious.  

We never made it downtown, we had hoped to see the ice castles but unfortunately, the warm winter weather prevented them from being built it in time for our visit.  We watched the Green Bay Packer’s Championship game at Gordy’s Boat House and we would recommend the chicken wings and the huge warm pretzel.  I love weekends like this!