Ever been a little bit skeptical about Internet deals? We’ve been.
VRBO (Vacation Rental by Owner) was one such deal. But we gave it a shot and rented a house in Virginia for a weekend family reunion. There was no catch and no gotcha. The Family Rothermel had a fabulous weekend in large part due to the home where we stayed.
Groupon? Its website offers daily specials, often vacations, for a discount. Our daughter Molly has successful weekended through Groupon so we decide to give it a shot.
Offered two nights at the North Star Lodge in Killington, VT in October or November, before the ski season, we find that sounds perfect for our plans for a couple’s retreat. Focusing on our marriage by journaling and talking together in a setting away from home, we think this an ideal “getaway.” With rain in the forecast, we won’t be able to hike and will have plenty of time inside to journal and talk as a couple.
At $109, our North Star room seems just a little pricey until we see what they throw in to sweeten the deal.
We get a $40 voucher each night towards any meal we would like or two lobster dinners. Now, you may wonder as we did, maybe the meal is $100 and the $40 is a mere token. A family member told us of a time when he and his wife went on a Groupon and their voucher paid for basically two-thirds of one meal. But we’ll never know, will we? until we try it out.
And that’s not all. We get breakfast vouchers for each of us each morning. Easily worth $40 total ($10 per breakfast), which makes it quite a $109 package per night, wouldn’t you say?
Ever been to Killington, VT? Coming from our daughter Robyn’s in Cazenovia, NY, we drive through Rutland, VT on Route 4; ten miles later the Killington Road is there on our right.
From the outside, the North Star Lodge looks like condos quickly built during the 1980s building boom. Our room has a queen bed, room to walk around in, a two section bathroom (small sink in one area, shower and toilet in the other), and believe it or not a 15” bulldog of a TV from, you guessed it, the 1980s.
The room is fine, not luxurious. We don’t need luxurious for our couple’s retreat on this Wednesday and Thursday in mid-October. It’s serviceable and not 1950s depressing. It’s not depressing at all, just not fancy.
So far so good and no gotcha.
Killington loves their hay bale art. These are everywhere.
I have gone to the Internet to find couples retreat questions to write about as we think about our marriage.
- Do you have enough quality and quantity time?
- What are we most proud of in our marriage?
- What two things would improve your marriage?
- What should we do more together?
- What do you enjoy most about me as a spouse?
- How can we deepen our physical relationship?
- What three romantic dates can we plan for the coming year?
But our retreat is for tomorrow and now it’s on to our Groupon dinner.
Charity’s is the restaurant where we can use our dinner voucher, and it is a mile down the Killington Road toward the mountain. It’s off season now in October and the restaurant is half-filled.
It’s a classic ski pub. Young, shaggy, athletic dudes at the bar, some with dates, some not. It has a dark interior with a log cabin feel with many booths. Tonight is pasta night. Specials starting at $12.95. Two times that is well below our allotted $40.
My chicken parmesan (fine) and Hannah’s shrimp dijonaisse over bowtie pasta (superb) mean we have $14 still to blow. I with a side salad and Hannah with carrot cake get us close to our $ limit.
Two things with these Groupons. One, we must pay the state meals tax (no biggie) and two, what is left over on the voucher does not go to the waitress. Tips are paid separately (understandable).
But that’s not the best part. As we are being led to our table, I notice the couple in the next booth who are the ones who arrived just before us at the North Star Lodge.
As we pass their table and notice they are just finishing their meals, I comment Aren’t you the folks with the Jersey plates we saw at the North Star? I explain my Bergen County (northeast Jersey) roots and we hit it off. They are Grouponers, too.
We plan to meet tomorrow for a meal
And the next morning we breakfast together. Meeting Len and Joyce breaks down the isolation that motels can foster; in contrast, B and Bs have us interacting like we love to do.
Breakfasting and dining with Len and Joyce, we find them both interested and interesting. Lives in Jersey are the focus of our conversation.
It’s funny the turnaround Jersey has made. When I was growing up in the 1960s, New Jersey was the butt of late night TV jokes. The smells from oil refineries and hog farms in Newark when driving on the Jersey Turnpike became what the rest of the country thought of as New Jersey.
Now it’s a badge of honor to be a Jersey Boy or Jersey Girl.
I’m sure Bruce Springsteen, Jon Bon Jovi, Queen Latifah, Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Jack Nicholson, Dan and Jean Rothermel, Dionne Warwick, Victor Cruz, Danny DeVito, Michael Douglas, and Meryl Streep have something to do with it.
Breakfasts at the Buttermilk Inn are $12 to $14. Seem expensive? Not for us Groupon holders. Again, the meal is huge and there are no catches. Our skepticism of Groupons has faded away.
For $12 we get a meal skiers would love: two eggs, two pancakes (blueberry if you want and good size), two pieces of bacon, two pieces of sausage, orange juice, and coffee or tea. If not that, their omelets are loaded with meat or veggies and a mound of home fries.
It turns out Killington is Camelot (i.e., it only rains at night, or at least when we are here.) So rather than journaling in the lodge this Thursday, we succumb to our trail DNA and are off to hike the Appalachian Trail to Thundering Falls. Instead of journaling, we’ll talk about our marriage on the trail.
Flexibility! One hallmark of a good marriage.