Birthdays at Keylime Cove

| December 13, 2011 | Comments (3)

My two children were born 4 years and a week apart. I never liked the idea of combining their birthday celebrations before but this year, they had the brilliant idea of staying at Keylime Cove overnight instead of having two birthday parties.

When we first moved to Lake County, IL from Maryland a year and a half ago, we would often drive by the large hotel with it’s multiple water tubes jutting from the building. As soon as my older daughter was told it was a hotel with an indoor water park, she decided that all she wanted for her birthday last year was a stay overnight at the local resort. We stayed overnight and played for hours in the water park while snow fell outside and had a fabulous time.

I have to admit that the idea of a water park resort to me at first made no sense when we moved to Illinois from Maryland. The idea probably would not have taken off in Maryland. But then we lived through our first Midwest winter. I then realized that having a local business with a heated indoor water park where walking around in a constant 86 degrees, barefoot, and in your bathing suit comfortably was something we needed to be able to keep going when the daytime highs could hit 10 degrees for a month straight.

When I asked my older daughter this year what she wanted, she proclaimed “Keyline Cobe!” while jumping up and down, which caused the toddler to do the same even though she probably had no idea what the fuss was about.

Because of that, we took our children to Keylime Cove last weekend.

I was fortunate to get a tour with one of the Sales Managers, Karlyn Verseman, while the children stayed home with my husband earlier in the day to take naps. Of course, they were so excited that they did not nap.

Karlyn explained to me that Keylime Cove was envisioned by another Chicagoland legend, Dave Anderson of Famous Dave’s. He had wanted to create a resort that was a blend of Key West, Florida and the Ritz Carlton. Also, Dave Anderson had a love for cruises and therefor the hallways are very long to be reminiscent of being on a cruise ship.

The theme certainly does come across throughout the resort, with palm trees currently decorated with Christmas tree lights, spiraled columns, palm trees tucked into corners, tropical colors, and various other small touches that allow you to enjoy the moment, whether for a birthday party, a wedding or a stay-cation.

Karlyn showed me all of the different types of rooms the resort has to offer. My personal favorite was the “Captain Dave’s Presidential Suite”, which had a fireplace, two large bedrooms, a small kitchen, a jacuzzi bathtub and two full bathrooms.

The spa was also beautiful and I plan on going for my birthday soon.
Touring the resort, I got the impression that it would be a great place for a wedding. The resort offers 3 banquet rooms that hold anywhere from 60 to 300 people and which are tucked away from the rest of the resort so that noise does not affect either the wedding (or conference or family reunion) guests or the rest of the resorts guests. A walk down the hallway to the banquet rooms still allows a peek through windows to the water park so that the tropical theme is still visible but not overwhelming.

The banquet rooms were being cleaned after a wedding when I toured them.  And one was being set up as Santa’s bedroom so that he could come to Keylime Cove to relax for the weekend but also so that his snoring doesn’t disturb the rest of the guests.

Karlyn also told me about a yearly event which Keylime Cove does with United Way of Lake County.  For 6 weeks, daypasses can be purchased (last year they were $25 each) and all the proceeds benefit United Way of Lake County and the Gurnee Police and Fire Departments.  Throughout the rest of the year, day passes are not available.  There was also an option last year to sponsor a child from the community to attend the waterpark who would otherwise not have been able to do so.  I thought this was a really heartwarming way for a local business to give back to the community and look forward to this event this coming summer.

Also, a couple of months before the start of the summer season, Keylime Cove offers packages that include tickets to Six Flags which is walking distance from the resort.  Tickets last year were $30 a piece versus $55 at the gate.

After our tour was completed, I went home, gathered up our excited children and our adventure began.

First, we checked into the resort while my children relaxed on the seats that go around the columns in the lobby and looked at the Christmas tree and lights on the palm trees.

Then, we changed into our bathing suits (I ended up purchasing one at one of the shops there since my old bathing suit was from my last pregnancy) and organized ourselves while the girls gushed over the towels that were folded in the shape of two swans kissing.
For kids, it’s definitely the little things.
We went to the water park with nothing but our bathing suits on and excited giggles.  The lifeguards at the water park were friendly and always keeping an eye out for all the guests.

Even though I personally am not a tropical island or beach person, I could actually relax a bit as my toddler and I splashed around in the gated wading pool area. An added feature that helped me to relax was the life vest that we could borrow for free from the towel station which actually fit my toddler.

My husband and older daughter hit the water tubes and Keylime Creek for hours before they came back to get their sister and played in Toukie’s Big Deluge.  I relaxed on a lounge chair while the giant pineapple filled up and splashed everyone below.  I do have to admit to actually falling asleep for a bit.

Finally, it was time to eat. Warm towels from the towel station and some cheeseburgers and french fries later, we were ready for more adventure.

A feature of the resort which really allowed us to relax was the Smart Band® RFID wristband. It acted as the key to our hotel room and our wallet at the same time so that we could go from the hotel room to the water park to the restaurant to the arcade and wherever else our hearts desired without worrying about keeping a wallet safe.

We don’t typically eat cheeseburgers or french fries as a family so it was a treat to enjoy them at D.W. Anderson’s. They actually have a variety of meals and we later enjoyed the Toucan Portabello, the Island Chicken and Spinach and Artichoke Dip all shared together as a family at The Crazy Toucan Margarita Grille.

We spent some time at the Enchanted Lagoon Kids Spa where my older daughter made her own lip gloss while her little sister and Daddy spent time playing with blocks and crayons and singing songs with the staff at Leapin’ Lizards right across the lobby.

Part of the VIP Savings Pass which we purchased included a free Pinki’s Pet Palace animal and outfit. My older daughter made a pink poodle named Glitter dressed as a purple fairy while we also purchased a monkey for my younger daughter who named him “Monkey No!”

At Leapin’ Lizards, the girls were also able to color in a t-shirt, make jingle bell bracelets, paper snowflakes to decorate the window, and have a rambunctious time while the staff helped to keep them entertained so that my Mama brain could stop for a bit and just enjoy my children without worries.

The children were encouraged to write a letter to Santa Claus and place it in his mailbox.

We came across Serpent Safari, a vendor which regularly comes to Keylime Cove with some of their smaller animals such as snakes and reptiles. My children actually saw one of their animals, a 3 year old American alligator named Spike. Another animal they had with them was an albino python. My children loved petting Spike and holding his claws in their hands.
Another vendor at Keylime Cove during our stay was Aloha Brush Art which had a display of various artwork.

On Saturday night, right before bedtime, Santa Claus came to Leapin’ Lizards with one of his elves and read the story “Twas the Night Before Christmas”.

My older daughter took my husband the next morning to wake up Santa with an elf and other children by shouting “Wake up, Santa!” Later, Santa joined us for breakfast.

My husband ordered for us the Breakfast Buffet on Sunday morning and the girls enjoyed their fill of fresh fruit, bacon, and scrambled eggs while I had an omelet from the omelet station made by the same man as last year.

I really think one of the main reasons why our stay both times has been so enjoyable has been because of the friendly staff. Both years, the same staff members have greeted and interacted with my children with friendly smiles and have taken time to stop and have a conversation with them and make them feel special during their stay.

One thing we did last year which we didn’t this year and regret not doing was ordering the “It’s Your Birthday” package which included balloons and birthday sign on our hotel door, a birthday cake, pizza and 4 drinks. We definitely plan on ordering it again next year.

Disclaimer:  I was given a Media/Blogger discount for our hotel room.  The discounted price for our hotel room was paid for by myself.  All other expenses such as food, the VIP Savings Pass, etc. were full price and paid out of my pocket.

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Category: Birthdays, entertainment, New Posts

About Kasia: A Mama born in Poland with "Gypsy Blood" living on the American Prairie with her East Coast hippy husband and their daughters, two future Miss Poland and Nobel Peace prize recipients. Interests include green living, cooking, travel, Nature, History... View author profile.

Comments (3)

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  1. megryansmom says:

    Welcome to The Chicago Moms! Great 1st post.

  2. Great post. We haven’t been there in a couple years but they didn’t used to have the wristbands like that. that is a great idea as I’m always paranoid about my purse!!

  3. Rita says:

    Great post! I’ve always wanted to go there, it looks like so much fun!

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