The Abbey is one of those places I have often driven past and wondered about. But my family was always more of the rent-a-rustic-cabin type, so we never stopped.
When the resort invited me to come for a visit to check out the property, which recently underwent a multi-million-dollar renovation, and its fabulous Avani Spa, I jumped at the chance.
There are many things for families and kids to do at the resort; we didn't do any of them. Instead, we spent a long, luxurious day at the spa.
The Avani Spa
We had relaxing massages then wrapped up in our comfy white spa robes and settled in lounge chairs next to the spa pool. We ordered drinks, opened our books and held hands. Periodically, I would rouse myself enough to suggest that we take a dip in the spa pool. One time, we even did it. But mostly we rested, rejuvenated and held hands, exactly the sort of thing two exhausted parents need.
All around us were other couples doing the same thing as well as groups of girlfriends who came to The Abbey to reconnect, gossip and get their nails done. The girlfriends were so planted in their lounge chairs that they even ordered lunch to be delivered poolside so they only had leave when they were summoned for another spa treatment.
Dining at The Abbey
We had our anniversary dinner in the Fontana Grill, which offers a prime rib buffet on Saturday nights, accompanied by Tom Stanfield on piano. Our table overlooking the harbor was the perfect complement to an all-you-can-eat gourmet buffet. If you want to try the buffet, plan ahead and make reservations.
There's another brunch on Sunday mornings, with champagne and just as many choices. In a kid-pleasing mode, the restaurant has a new breakfast menu featuring…. wait for it…. candy pancakes. Yep. You read that right. Candy pancakes. As in their favorite candy added to the pancake batter. Monday is Hershey's; Tuesday, Mounds; Wednesday, York Peppermint Patties; Thursday, Reese’s; Friday, Whoppers; Saturday, Starburst, and Sunday, Snickers. OK, so the next time I visit I might have to try those Snickers pancakes. All in the name of research, you know. Wonder if kids will put syrup on that? Most likely.
Away from The Abbey
Unlike the girlfriends at the spa pool, we did venture outside the resort to explore the small neighboring towns.
In Williams Bay, we discovered the family-owned Daddy Maxwell's Antarctic Circle Diner, where the strawberry pancakes are well worth the calories. We walked off the breakfast on the 77-acre grounds of the Yerkes Observatory in Williams Bay. We could have toured the observatory if we had arrived a few minutes earlier (or eaten a little less) since the free tours are offered only on Saturday mornings.
There are lots of tourist-y shops in Lake Geneva, but we prefer shopping as a treasure hunt. So we headed to Delavan where we browsed through second hand "antique" (junk) shops and spent more than an hour roaming the dusty aisles of Bibliomaniacs, the quirky used book store complete with a friendly feline.
And don't miss a stop at the Elegant Farmer in nearby Mukwonago, Wis., to pick up one of the best apple pies you'll ever taste. They're baked in a bag and chances are the pie will still be warm from the oven when you take it to the checkout counter.
Visiting The Abbey with kids.