Lake Geneva, Wisconsin is a year-round resort town located less than 2 hours away from Chicago. Although at one point a playground for wealthy Chicagoans (mansions still line Geneva Lake), it is now an affordable getaway for anyone looking to get out of the city for a few days.
We chose to stay at the Grand Geneva Resort & Spa since it is dog-friendly and my yorkie, Buddy, loves road trips. The Grand Geneva resort made a good impression on me even before checking in. A few days prior to my stay, I was contacted by the concierge inquiring whether I had any questions/concerns or needed recommendations for anything. As this would be Buddy’s first stay at such a large resort and I like being prepared, I took the opportunity to ask numerous questions. The concierge was very helpful and provided me with all the information I needed.
The Grand Geneva is located on a beautiful green and hilly landscape about 5 minutes from Lake Geneva town. Even though it is close, you cannot walk to town as there are no pedestrian walkways but a free shuttle service is provided for guests. Since the grounds are also huge, there is free transport via a trolley or van within the resort.
During check-in the reception area was quite crowded because our stay was over a busy holiday weekend. Nevertheless, the line moved surprisingly quickly. We registered Buddy for an additional $35 per night and he was presented with a doggie welcome package. In addition to a Grand Geneva ID tag, he received a tasty treat, a handy map of outdoor pet areas and a clean-up packet. We were informed of the pet rules: he could walk through all buildings except one designated allergy-free but would not be permitted in restaurants, golf courses, pool areas or retail outlets. Also, a door hanger must be displayed on the door while a pet is in the room and all housekeeping services needed to be pre-arranged.
Although I’m not a fan of resort fees, I expect them at large resorts. The Grand Geneva adds a $15 fee per night which includes wireless internet throughout the property, valet parking, 2 complimentary bottles of water, free local calls and access to the fitness center. The internet service was fairly decent and we also appreciate complimentary bottles of water but did not take advantage of the valet parking. There were plenty of self-park spots located near the rooms.
We booked a Deluxe Lakeview King for just a little more per night than a Courtside room and were pleased with our decision. The courtside rooms directly face the parking lot while the lakeview rooms face the golf course and man-made lake. All rooms have a private balcony or patio but there wasn’t much of a view on the courtside to say the least.
Since we were traveling with a pet, we were given a room on the ground floor near the exit. I usually prefer a higher floor but was happy to be near an exit as it made Buddy’s potty breaks pretty easy. An added bonus of being on the ground floor was the patio. It didn’t look too private when I first saw it but ended up being a nice and quiet spot to relax in.
The guest room itself was clean, spacious and accurately represented on the website. The mini-fridge was a decent size and actually kept our drinks cold. A basket of goodies was available for purchase as well.
The bathroom was modern and featured amenities from the WELL Spa and Salon. An added bonus was the television in the bathroom mirror.
We decided to explore the grounds with Buddy and learned some interesting facts. The Grand Geneva originally opened as the Lake Geneva Playboy Club Hotel and was the first Playboy Club Hotel to open in the U.S. Proud of its history, the resort has various memorabilia on display throughout the common areas.
The inside and outside areas are beautifully maintained, peaceful and provide a number of areas to just sit and relax. There are however, a number of activities available to those who want to do more than relax. In addition to horseback riding, hiking trails and a waterpark, there is skiing and snowboarding available in the winter. A 10,000 square foot fitness center and indoor and outdoor pools are also available.
For the golf players, Grand Geneva is home to The Brute, rated as one of Wisconsin’s best and most challenging golf courses. I’m not a golfer but my husband played the course and was quite pleased.
There are a number of restaurants at the resort but we chose to eat in town. We did grab gelato at Café Gelato and highly recommend it. For a pet-friendly resort Grand Geneva was lacking an outdoor restaurant patio where you can eat with your pet friend.
Overall I was very pleased with my stay at Grand Geneva Resort & Spa. I felt that Buddy was treated as a welcome guest and would recommend the resort to anyone looking for a quick weekend trip. I was told that they are thinking of changing their policy but currently the only furry friends allowed are dogs under 25lbs.