Sunday, September 27, 2009

Saskatoon Inn review

It's not often that I am so pleasantly surprised by my accommodations that I race to the computer, eager to commend the venue and its staff. This week while staying in Saskatchewan at the Saskatoon Inn and conference centre, 2002 Airport Drive, I couldn't help but do just that. From check in to check out the service here was exceptional. To begin with I arrived much earlier than check in time on a Wednesday, not intentional just the way flights worked out. A convenient airport shuttle was perhaps a five minute wait and baggage appeared without delay at Diefenbaker Airport. Despite the fact that I was a good two or three hours before their suggested check in time of 3 p.m. my room was ready and much to my surprise, it was larger, cleaner and generally exceeded all of my expectations. While in town for the FASD (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder) conference put on by the Saskatchewan Prevention Institute, I ventured around town briefly to see the downtown area and visited the Midtown Plaza. An apparent highlight of the shopping tour is the city's new Lululemon store, across the street from the mall. The conference organizers did an expectional job here selecting this Inn. The setting was beautiful and the food was good. There is a fitness centre, small but worth a visit, a winding shallow pool that looks more like a river and a good deal of natural materials went into the internal architecture of the building. The only tiny complaint I could begin to think of was the slow speed of room service. But the restaurant on site Botanica was lovely and service there was very good. Not a whole lot of variety there though. While I loved this spot for business and couples travel it is not ideally suited to family, unless your children are quieter travellers than mine.

thriftymommagogo recommends the Saskatoon Inn as a $$$$ 1/2 out of $$$$$.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Ontario Science Centre - review

This summer my daughter, now eight, repeatedly asked to do science  experiments and she would often tell anyone who inquired that her favourite subject was science, so we thought it would be the ideal time to plan a trip to Ontario Science Centre. We visited the centre on Labour Day weekend. Admission was free with our membership to London Regional Children's Museum. A very big bonus incentive for us to visit. And visiting on Sunday meant we could park on a side street nearby for free as well. We stayed at a motel for the night so we could also visit family nearby. This was the only cost incurred other than the price of gas and the meals while we stayed in Toronto. I have not been to the science centre since I was about 12 or so and was anxious to see if it was the same trip I recalled or if things had improved, changed, etc. A highlight for my nephew Taiga, now one, and my daughter Ainsley, 5, was Kidspark, an interactive children's section with toys, a rock star stage, musical instruments and even a toddler area. Less exciting was the space section and we didn't spring for the Imax movie this year, but perhaps another time. The Ontario Science Centre currently has a Lizards and Snakes Alive exhibit that is interesting for all ages and a short film on the topic is quite informative. The Sports exhibits and the Spy area are wonderful interactive ways for children of all ages to enjoy and discover science in the every day. The Spy area is different than I had pictured it but a great opportunity to role play for younger children and there are some stations that my eight-year-old explored and were equally engagaiung for myself, my husband and my brother as well. There are chances to crack codes, discover beginner cryptography, create secret identities and examine spy gadgets. But the highlight for both my children was the Human Body exhibit. Many stood in line for hours to undergo photoaging, a glimpse into how they might look decades from now. And almost every child who visited the Human Body had to be hauled away from the sneezing girl who taught them about germs and zits. The iconic electricity exhibit in the Science Arcade hasn't changed much in 25 years and is still fun for everyone. If I had one criticism it would be simply that I would hesitate to recommend this as a trip for anyone not yet school aged. It is simply too overwhelming and over the heads of most younger children.

Visit the Ontario Science Centre open 7 days a week, from 10 am to 5 pm. Closed December 25. Located at 770 Don Mills Road on the corner of Eglinton Avenue East in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Regular admission for adults is $18. Seniors are $13.50. Youth aged 13 to 17 are $13.50. Children aged four to 12 are $11. Imax movies are over and above the admission rate.

Otherwise thriftymommagogo gives this $$$$$ out of $$$$$ as it is good fun, inexpensive and educational for all family members.