Harrison Hot Springs Resort: A Review

This past weekend, we took a very short trip over to Harrison Hot Springs. We were feeling the need to get away during Spring Break, to shake up the routine, and so we chose Harrison Hot Springs. It’s only 1.5 hours from our house, very doable for a short break. Given our last-minute reservation, we were only able to book one night at our hotel of choice, the Harrison Hot Springs Resort & Spa, but that still gave us two full days to explore and relax. 

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This was our first time traveling to Harrison Hot Springs as a family. While I think the area offers a ton of options for summer (lake activities, more open tourist destinations in the area), there were fewer restaurants than I anticipated, and we were sorely missing the lack of a cute cafe, quality dining or fun store options. It felt quite run down. 

Harrison Hot Springs Resort & Spa – Overall Impression

The hotel is situated right on Harrison lake, at the far end of the strip of waterfront amenities. The Harrison Hot Springs Resort photographer, I believe, should get a bonus, as the website definitely makes the hotel seem more glamorous than it was in reality. 

The hotel is quite large, and well laid out, with many amenities that you would expect from a “resort”, including the local hot springs, towels and robes, and on-site amenities including a very well stocked and friendly store and a cafe. 

Despite those features, our overall impression of the hotel was luke warm. We felt like the hotel lacked several “resort” features we have come to expect, including quality dining options, luxury beds and packages of local information that are relevant to the season. 

Our Room

As the most lacklustre aspect of our trip, we did not like our room at all. We booked a room in the Main Hotel, since it was one of the only available suite at the time that offered 2 rooms, one with a queen and one with two twin-beds. The room we were put in was anything but like what is pictured. The rooms were tiny and cramped, with barely any room to navigate around the beds. Our room was on the corner adjacent to the elevator, and let me tell you – there was no insulation to dull the sounds of people running and screaming at 10pm or getting ready to leave with suitcases in tow at 5am (WHY?!). 

The bed was super hard and uncomfortable and the amenities are more motel-like than resort, for sure. Definitely not at all worth the price we paid for the room. 

Would the other, newer, towers be better? Other rooms? I don’t know. 

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Hot Springs / Pools

There are many hot springs and pools on property and this is really the highlight of the experience. Indoors, there is a large pool and a very relaxing hot tub. Outside, there are 3 other hot springs, one of which is very family-friendly with its walk-in entrance. The kids both really enjoyed the hours spent in the hot springs, even with the rain! Damien took right to swimming with water wings on. 

Although in need of some repairs to the landscaping, the pools receive a big thumbs up from the whole family. Very relaxing.

Hotel Dining Options

The resort offers 4 dining options: a cafe, a standard restaurant, a luxury restaurant and a bar. We appreciated the options at the cafe for off-dining times, but were very disappointed in the whole Lakdeside Cafe experience. Apparently on Fridays and Saturdays, you cannot order menu items, only buffet items. The food, like the decor, is cafeteria-quality.

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The food swam in sauces or was crunchy beyond what is necessary. At the Italian Buffet, even the kids’ pizza tasted gross – I can’t blame my youngest for refusing almost everything we offered him. There wasn’t a single item on the menu that didn’t come covered in some bad-tasting sauce (ok, there was a lamb, and it was the only thing I liked!) – even the vegetables were cooked past recognition. For our breakfast, the same quality: rubbery eggs, tasteless oatmeal, limp bacon, weird-tasting pancakes. With all the trips I kept making to try to get the kids to eat something, I didn’t get to try the omelette bar – probably would have been a better option. 

Aside from the food being lacklustre, we also found the dining times restrictive. We are used to being able to go to at least one resort restaurant in off times, since our kids often eat really early in the evenings when we’re away. 

The only upside to the dining experience was really good service.

Damien at 22 Months

Damien. 2 years old in just 2 more months. My little baby is disappearing more and more each month that passes. 

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  • Size 7 shoes
  • Has 16 teeth, though all the incisors are still not fully up
  • Loves to walk. We sold the stroller – yay!
  • Loves to run. Mostly this is great, but sometimes it involves him running away in situations that are hard (like when I’m solo with 2 kids). Science World was great with him alone, less great with 2 kids.
  • Loves to dress-up, play with musical instruments, listen to / make music, play with pretend food, play with board games (loves to look at all the pieces!), mimic sounds
  • Favourite foods: sushi, edamame, rice, quinoa, plain pasta, oatmeal (every. single. day.), yogurt, apples, bars, bagel with cream cheese, macaroni and cheese from Burgoo, muffins / cake, lollipops, chicken, eggs with cheese, homemade fish sticks, miso soup, curried quinoa and veggies, pancakes
  • Loves to hide things and ask “Where go?” – often hides a picture in a book by closing it then opening it again with excitement
  • Learned how to jump, is very proud of the achievement
  • Loves to walk around with his umbrella, even if it’s not open
  • Can fill in many of the blanks in the Phonics Alphabet Song (for letter, sound and word)
  • Is learning to recognize his bodily functions
  • Told Daddy “love you”
  • His obsessions have moved on from Elmo (aka Melmo) to also include Thomas (aka Momas) and the Wiggles (aka Giggles)
  • My favourite of his words / phrases: giggle giggle giggle (chocolate), thank (thank you), too! (me too!), where go?, ah-pa-puss (octopus)

Spreading the Sunshine

T11227134364 087bffde06he lovely Heather recently tagged me in a meme based on the Sunshine Awards, allowing bloggers to recognize people who have “charmed, supported, enlightened, and inspired the awarder in recent months.” Basically, it’s a FBBB (for bloggers, by bloggers) award bestowed upon writers who inspire you, creating a lovely and positive link among bloggers. 

First off, thank you to Heather for the tag! I’ve had the privilege to get to know Heather through our “family” at Gymboree, where we’ve been going regularly since Aiden was 6 months old – that’s 4 years of classes under our belts. It’s always been a favourite place for myself and my boys and getting to know Heather and the other teachers has made Gymboree such a warm place for us. If you don’t know Heather, she’s an amazingly positive person who brings light to Gymboree and is an amazing Mommy to her two outgoing little girls.

To answer Heather’s questions:

  1. What is your favourite piece of technology as a blogger? As a mommy?
    My iPhone! For both, it’s essential to take photos, engage on social media, even to write posts! I would never capture half the memories of my kids without my phone always handy. 
  2. What’s the craziest fad diet/workout routine you’ve ever attempted?
    I did the 30 Day Shred… for a bit. About 2 weeks? I didn’t hate it, but it was really hard to fit in the Shred and my running 3x a week and work and kids, and, well, life.  
  3. Automatic or manual transmission?
    Automatic. Hills. Enough said. 
  4. What is your ideal number of kids?
    2. I would have maybe said 3 before, but they are considerably more work than I expected. Plus, I am not a happy pregnant lady. 
  5. Have you ever broken any bones?
    I’m more apt to sprain and tear (thanks hyper mobility!), but I have broken a finger and a rib and fractured (does that count?) my arm. 
  6. What is the best old school way of writing? Pen & paper, typewriter, tablet & chisel?
    I love notebooks. I still meal plan on a pad / paper and always have a notebook by my desk. 
  7. What is the most unusual entry on your list of baby names?
    Dyson. It was Ianiv’s name and it’s the only one that stuck with me as odd. Um, not naming my kid a vacuum, even if it is a nice name. 
  8. What is the craziest thing you did as a child that you’d never let your own kids do?
    Hmm, hard one. I wasn’t a super crazy child. I have a feeling my kids will outdo me in this department. I’d have to say catching snakes was probably not a wise idea. Most of them were garter snakes… I think. 

I nominate the following 8 people who’ve inspired me lately: Amber, Harriet, Tod (congrats on the wedding!), Rebecca, Gus, Steffani, Tamara and Margarita

And I’ve come up with the following 8 new questions:

  1. Sum up an average day in 3 words.
  2. What’s your favourite thing about Vancouver?
  3. The best thing to happen to me this year has been _______
  4. What are your top 3 favourite books from when you were a kid?
  5. Best show on tv right now? (And I hope you say Downton Abbey)
  6. TV show that should never have been cancelled
  7. Your favourite place to go for dinner in Vancouver
  8. The place you’d most like to take a vacation to

Goodbye Stroller

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Major milestone here! We sold our stroller! 

Damien is not yet two, and it’s become more and more clear that the stroller was nothing more than a waste of space in our kitchen. For months, it sat mostly unused, except for the long treks up to the library every 3 weeks to get new books.

Ever since he could walk, Damien has wanted to walk. Even when he’s ready for his nap, he’s happy to walk from playgroups or even from our car back home. He just loves to walk. Since he was around 18 months, he’s been walking to our local cafe and back no problem – something Aiden didn’t willingly do until he was 2.5/3.

Aiden was (ok, still is) the more reluctant walker. As a toddler, he was prone to lie down and throw a fit if I asked him to walk half a block, or heck even across a parking lot. He wanted to be held or in a stroller. Ironic, considering how much he HATED the stroller as a baby. 

Damien? Never loved the stroller as a baby. Briefly tolerated the stroller (to the park or library, with snacks or toys). Never loved it. 

A month ago, we walked up to the library and I ended up, after half a block, pushing the stroller while holding Damien’s hand, with Aiden holding the stroller handle. The whole way there and back. Over 1km each way. He was happy to be out and walking.

At that point, it was clear the stroller had no more purpose and was not worth it just to cart books or sand toys around. So, we put it on Craigslist and said goodbye. Our kitchen looks way bigger now. 

Honestly, the backpack filled with books wasn’t as bad as I expected either. Even with Damien kind of whining on our last trip to the library, we still made it there and back without a tantrum. #WIN

Dealing with Night Terrors

Aiden has suffered from night terrors since he was about 6 months old, which is apparently quite young for terrors to begin. He wakes with a night terror 1-3 times each week, and we’ve learned a lot about them since. Each night terror involves Aiden waking and screaming, often with him sitting but facing the wall or acting confused. If he talks, it’s usually gibberish or makes no sense. There’s a lot of calling for “Mommy,” even if I’m the one hold him. He seems to see you, and sometimes respond with a “No!”, but often is not really responding. He never remembers them. 

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We know that Aiden’s night terrors are often predictable, based on how he seems during the day. Night terrors, for him, are triggered by being overtired, which can come from a late night or a series of grumpy days where it’s apparent he’s feeling a sleep deficit, despite a 11.5-12 hour night on a regular basis. When he was younger, a longer awake period was also a trigger for him. He’s more likely to have a night terror if he’s dealing with anything on an emotional level. Now that he’s older, he’ll also have a night terror if he needs to pee. 

Aiden’s night terrors are always 1-1.5 hours from when he goes to sleep, but not at a consistent time. We don’t know how many are related to a full bladder, or how far back that goes, but that’s definitely been a pattern we’ve established lately. Aiden doesn’t hold his bladder for long periods of time, so his body is trying to get him out of a deep sleep to pee and it’s resulting in a night terror. Aiden feels everything very passionately, and there has been one night terror where he was lucid enough to tell me he felt “mad”, but for no reason, so it’s obviously his body’s way of releasing pent up emotions as well. 

To get Aiden back to sleep, we have to wait out the most irrational point of his night terrors. We quickly take him pee, since that solves his body’s issue as well as gets the screaming further from Damien. We didn’t used to do this, but have found it shortens the duration of the night terror. Offering water or asking a question that requires an answer (vs a yes/no), can sometimes shake him out of it. Waiting them out without engaging doesn’t shorten the terror, in our experience.