Over the first weekend in June, my family and I took off to The Woodlands, just north of Houston, to celebrate the end of another school year and my husband, Roger’s, birthday. The Woodlands Resort generously offered to host us for the weekend and, during our three-hour drive east, then north (the Resort is about 30 minutes north of Houston), our kids chatted excitedly about what we’d see there and what we would do all weekend.
We all still buzzed with the frenetic energy we’d needed to get through the end of a busy school year, AKA: The Month of May. Schools and extracurricular activities rigorously test parents in May to find out if they have the mettle to schedule and attend fifty gajillion ceremonies, events, parties, volunteer opportunities, and graduations and still somehow manage to get sleep at night. Roger and I passed The Month of May test. Barely. And we were only shepherding two kids through it all. Those of you who parent more children, my hat’s off to you. Successfully getting The Month of May done is a talent that should win you $1 million on America’s Got Talent.
Never having visited The Woodlands Resort before, we weren’t sure what to expect (other than tall, glorious trees – those I’d seen when I attended Jimmy Buffett concerts at the nearby Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion in my youth.). Instead of one gigantic building, The Woodlands Resort spreads across many acres and the majority of the guest rooms are located in an arc around the Forest Oasis Waterscape which includes: two pools, a 30-foot Tower with a double-helix water slide, a waterfall, a 1000-foot lazy river, a baby pool, a splash pad, and a cafe.
In addition to fun swimming and pool lounging options for all ages, the resort offers golf, tennis, a spa, and 200+ miles of hiking and biking trails. And trees, gloriously tall, towering trees, the likes of which we don’t see in San Antonio. There’s something about the beauty of a forest that takes my breath away and replaces it with total relaxation.
Once we settled into our room, the lazy river beckoned to these two. My wish for them to burn off some energy would be granted within minutes of arrival.
We floated, swam, and splashed the afternoon away, then took advantage of poolside service as we enjoyed dinner from our lounge chairs. One of the best parts of our visit was the attentive and friendly poolside servers who cheerfully took our orders and delivered delicious food (lobster salad with fresh greens!), sinfully good frozen drinks (Their watermelon margaritas are the stuff of summer dreams. I need the recipe.), and complimentary popcorn in time for the Dive-in Movie for the evening (Toy Story 3).
We spent the entire next day by the pool. Well, almost all of us did. I snuck away for a bit to have an afternoon massage at the Spa. Located in the main building, The Woodlands Resort Spa is something you don’t want to miss when you visit. Massages, facials, manicures, and pedicures are available. And essential spa amnesties, including lush robes, a whirlpool, hot and dry saunas, showers, and complimentary toiletries, led me to stay a little longer. If it’s relaxation you seek, ask for Ruth when booking your massage. Her fingers are magic!
While I was away, enjoying my spa experience, Roger and the kids had more fun at the pool. DJ Mike was on hand from 12:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., spinning popular tunes and leading the kids (and adults) in games and contests all day, including a water limbo, hula hoop contest, cannonball splash, dance contests, and more. And S’mores are served at the fire pit at 6:00 p.m.
There’s something fun going on all the time at The Woodlands Resort. We loved slipping down the slides, floating around the lazy river, watching people get crazy in the poolside contests, and reading books in the shade of an umbrella. OK, maybe that was just me and Roger. The kids never got out of the pools.
But our best moments at The Woodlands Resort, the ones I’ll treasure forever, weren’t captured in any photos. They were our late evening swims at the pool with the waterfall, behind Cool Water Cafe. Roger would toss Waylon into the air while he giggled madly. Delaney and I raced each other across the pool and then sat under the waterfall, telling stories and sharing secrets. We just swam and played together. Simple, yet meaningful fun. No devices, no books, no photos or videos, no distractions. Just us, enjoying each other’s company without the everyday world pulling us apart through our various responsibilities. Our excursion to The Woodlands Resort was the perfect way for us to reconnect as a family.
Tips for a fantastic family stay at The Woodlands Resort
1. For the best access to the pools, request to stay in building 5000, preferably in a first-floor room. You’ll have direct access to the Forest Oasis Waterscape.
2. Don’t miss the Grand Breakfast Buffet every morning in the Woodlands Dining Room from 6:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. On our second day at the resort we had a huge breakfast there with all of our favorites: made-to-order omelettes, fresh fruit, eggs, bacon, sausage, pancakes, waffles, pastries, cereal, and more. We were so full that we skipped lunch and went out to dinner later that day.
3. If you love shopping, movies, and unique dining options, visit The Woodlands Town Center, just around the corner from the resort. We enjoyed a fantastic birthday meal to celebrate Roger at Schilleci’s New Orleans Kitchen. Don’t let the fine dining atmosphere keep you away if you’re dining with kids. They welcomed ours with open arms and even put the kids’ orders in first so they could eat right away while Roger and I took our time with the menu and sipped our wine. Our server, Cory, was helpful and knowledgeable, steering me towards one of the best Cajun seafood dishes I’ve ever had (blackened barramundi topped with crawfish étouffée). The owner, Mr. Schilleci, came by each table to be sure everyone was happy and well-fed.
4. If you plan to spend the day by the pool(s) at the Forest Oasis Waterscape, go early to grab the best spot. If you have little ones, you’ll want a shady spot near the baby pool and splash pad (those lounge chairs are located under lovely misters). And, both the main pool, the lazy river, and the baby pool are all zero-entry, which is perfect for toddlers and preschoolers who are still learning to swim. Consider ordering your kids the Endless Cool Water Quencher from Cool Water Cafe. For only $8, you get free soda and iced tea refills all day. And, be sure to take advantage of the complimentary ice water with lemon slices and little cups of frozen grapes that the wonderful poolside servers dole out to cool you off, all day long.
5. Grab an activities guide when you check in to see what’s on tap for the day. Who knows, you may win the hula hoop contest or make the best cannon ball that day!
To learn more about The Woodlands Resort, you can visit their website at: The Woodlands Resort.
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