After leaving Thunder Bay, ON, we trekked onward. It would be our last night staying along Lake Superior — this time, it would be on the eastern shore. The biggest town in the area, Sault Ste. Marie, didn’t have any hotel rooms available. (Fun fact? There is a Canadian town of Sault Ste. Marie, AND an American town of Sault Ste. Marie, connected by the Sault Ste. Marie international bridge!) Since our “goal area” for that day wasn’t available, I did some more sleuthing from the road on my iPhone. Until then, we’d be staying with family, at a Thriftlodge, and two Best Westerns, so I decided to take a chance on a privately run cabin spot with high ratings, an hour before the Sault Ste. Marie(s).
I went based on excellent reviews online, and booked us a spot at a place called the Salzburger Hof Lake Shore Resort. The family-run resort and restaurant were founded in 1972 by an Austrian couple. The reviews online focus on the charming Austrian theme, warm hosts, and excellent Austrian food. I ended up pretty disappointed with both the resort and restaurant.
I was very disappointed by the “pet friendly” aspect of the place. When we called, we were assured the place was very happy to accommodate “puppy love” with the usual additional pet fee. Unfortunately, in my opinion and experience of staying at “pet friendly” accommodations, this was not so.
When we arrived, there was a long list of strict rules in the room about dogs. These rules included:
- Dogs can only be walked on-leash in one area of the resort, completely away from people areas. Meaning, if you are going to hang out on the grounds, the dog cannot be with you. Simultaneously, dogs are not allowed to be left in the rooms unaccompanied for any period of time – meaning if the weather isn’t conducive to leaving your dog in your vehicle car while you enjoy the grounds you paid to enjoy, then, well, you are out of luck.
- Dogs are not allowed anywhere else on the grounds, because “people walk barefoot in these places.” I walked barefoot in these areas, and encountered loads of wild goose droppings. If you’ve ever stepped in goose poop… You know it smells terrible, and the musty smell lingers even after washing. I wonder which has more bacteria, dog poop, or wild goose droppings? At least if they let dogs walk on the grounds, the dogs would clean up the goose droppings! Gross but true…
- If a dog “disturbs guests,” you will be asked to place the dog in a kennel in Sault Ste. Marie, an hour drive away. Given that the TVs of the guests on either side of us “disturbed” our sleep (the walls are connected, and paper thin), I can’t imagine how bad even a minor amount of barking would be considered.
- Dogs are not allowed to be left unaccompanied inside the units.
- Dogs are not allowed to be off-leash inside of the units.
- You are not allowed to wipe your dog’s paws, or to dry off your washed dog with the towels from the resort. Allow me to mention the towels were old, different colors, and put my own ratty old towels to shame?
I am all for rules for pets in rentals — absolutely. No one wants to stay in a place that allows disrespectful guests of any kind, human OR canine. But in this case, I felt the owner wasn’t very forthcoming on the phone, and should have mentioned at least the faintest hint of the restrictions when I asked for details on their pet policies. Can you imagine if I booked the room for a week, only to find all of this out after I arrived, and had paid? Kind of a lesson — if you are booking something like a family reunion, and there are dogs traveling with — you shouldn’t be shy about really GRILLING the hosts about the policies! I’d ask for the actual policies, not the ones on the website, but the ones found in-room — prior to booking.
The condo/cabin part of the trip was fine because we were only there one night. I felt ridiculous carrying Miles all the way down to the beach area and back, just so I could see it.
The most unfortunate part of the experience was the restaurant. I have eaten zero authentic German food in my life (layover airport food doesn’t count, does it?), and my grandfather was German-American. So I was eager to try the restaurant, as it gets excellent reviews online. My mom had her doubts, despite being crazy for “a good weinersnitchel.” She just had a “hmm feeling” about the place (probably a tad bit informed by the upkeep of the cabin…) but, I convinced her to join me in trying it out. We walked into the dining room, and given my mother and I are both under 80+ years old, we definitely didn’t fit in with the primary clientele.
There was one man whose job was strictly seating people, and bringing water. There was one waitress, who was extremely hardworking, and all around wonderful. She was swamped. The water man really, really did not have her back. The place was about 60% full, and she was swamped. It took a half hour for us to be able to order our meals, and another hour and a half to receive them. I felt pretty bad for the other “out of place” diners next to us, a mother and two small boys, who arrived just after we did. The young guys, understandably, were getting mighty HANGRY after the one-hour point of the post-food-order wait!
The food was not good, despite how desperately hungry my mother and I were by then. Really, we would have settled quite happily for mediocre or too greasy at that point, but alas, it was really just not good. Oh well. We retreated to our room, and because there was only one tv channel, and really serious long instructions about what buttons NOT to push, I set up my laptop so we could watch Game of Thrones instead. When I had called, I had asked if they had WiFi, and I was assured that they did have WiFi. Turns out, they do have WiFi, but, only outside. It was raining and cold, but I was grumpy and determined, so I walked over to a lawn chair in the dark, and began loading an episode. There was a guy next to me, doing the same thing, which made us both laugh. He left, and a few minutes later, I heard quiet footsteps nearby, and then, a soft frightened voice said, “My mom… I can’t… I can’t find my mom. Can you help me?” It was one of the little boys from the restaurant. He had come outside, but couldn’t find his room. I smiled, and agreed to help him, when luckily his mother found us! I didn’t think much of it, until it came time for me to find my room. I had given up on loading a show (I know, tiny violins, pfft), so I headed back to where I thought my room was. Only it wasn’t. There was an older man changing his socks by the window. I shrugged, and went to the next room. And the next. Then back, and around. I was completely, unquestionably, lost. I started feeling creepy, trying to see into people’s windows after the fifth try! Finally, I saw a room with three people easily visible, watching tv on the one channel. It was the mother, and the two boys! I knocked on the door, and told them I was lost now! We all laughed about it, and the mom helped me find my room. Somehow two women peering into people’s rooms felt less creepy than doing so solo?
Thanks for the help Miles — I kept hoping he’d be sitting by our door, looking for me. Nope, he was inside, chewing away on a bullystick. I won’t say where he was, but I will say the area was spotless upon our departure the next day.