We made a last-minute decision to come up to Villa Roma during four days surrounding Christmas, based on some research a friend did and the fantastic price. We are a family of four -- me, my husband, and my daughters (ages 6 and 8), and the price of our room and the included meals for three nights came to around $1100, which involved one kid being free. We went for it with our expectations fairly low because of the cheap price.
We were certainly not disappointed! First of all, we made a point of ensuring that we received a recently renovated room. Our room had two queen beds, a desk, a cube refrigerator, a dresser with flat-screen TV, a night table between the beds, two wing chairs with a round table between them, and a bathroom with double sink and full bathtub. The room was very clean, and while the desk had no chair upon arrival, one was brought for us right away upon request. There is secured Wi-Fi access. The room was equipped with a heating/air conditioning wall unit that worked fine; in fact, the heat worked so well that typically, after having it on in the evening the room was so warm that we simply turned the unit on to "fan" and used that at night while we were sleeping. The only disadvantage to the room was that it adjoined the room next to it with a door, and you could hear EVERYTHING -- every word. Running the fan at night allowed us to sleep undisturbed, but I think that was partly because the family in the adjoining room were friends of ours and tried to keep quiet. I can only imagine how horrible it could be if it was a noisier, less cognizant group of people next door. Our bed was very comfortable, and while one of the other families we had traveled with had issues with their bed being noisy, the staff replaced it upon their request and they had no problems with it thereafter.
The breakfasts were probably the highlight of the food experience. We had Robert as our waiter the whole time we were there, and he was absolutely outstanding. Gratuities are included in your price, but we made sure we left him more from our three families. All together, we were a party of 13 people -- six adults and seven children (ranging in ages from 3 to 12), and he handled us with seamless professionalism. We all agreed that while the dinner fare was fine, it was mediocre if you compare it to fine dining experiences in regular restaurants. But it was certainly edible, and some of the dinner highlights were the chicken and wild rice soup, and the chicken with the tomato-wine sauce. We enjoyed the Caesar night on Christmas Eve, and there was live keyboard music by a talented fellow.
The best thing about this resort was the variety of activities, many of which involved no added cost. Our kids enjoyed the "horse racing" the evening we arrived, which involved someone rolling dice and the kids as "jockeys" moving numbered wooden horses over a tarp marked with duct-tape lines. Adults enjoyed betting on which numbered horse would win based on the dice throws. After dinner we checked out the area near the game room, which had a ball pit/climbing area for kids, as well as indoor shuffleboard and bocci. The first night there was a magician/juggler/comic in the lounge that was enjoyed by kids and adults alike. The next day, which was Christmas Eve Day, we went over to the building with the fitness center after breakfast, where there is a "fun place" with a bounce house, "spider climb" with inflatable slide, and a rock wall. Both kids and adults enjoyed the rock wall. Some of our group went for a tennis clinic for all ages next door, for which I was told the instructor was outstanding. After lunch, which we enjoyed at the on-property Ronnie's Pizza and Deli, we put the kids in the free Kids Camp for a little while, where they enjoyed crafts and decorating holiday cookies, while the adults hung out in the mezzanine lounge. Later we got the kids and took them to the turtle racing, which they enjoyed immensely, putting numbered live turtles in the center of a circular tarp and watching to see which one ran to the edge first as the adults rooted for the turtle they placed bets on. That day we also took our girls ice skating, which was the first activity we paid anything extra for ($15 with a skate rental for 90 minutes). While the rink is very small, it was not crowded at all, which was perfect for my little fledgling skaters. As it was near the end of the day, though, the ice was very choppy,and they don't use a zamboni to smooth the ice, but only a couple of shovels. But I wouldn't say this was a real problem. While we were skating, my husband and the other two men went off to play racquetball, for which they had brought their own racquets. Racquets are available for rental for raquetball and tennis, and you can either bring your own balls or purchase them there. The racquetball and tennis courts are available for a $16 fee for 90 minutes. After the Caesar dinner, we went to the mezzanine lounge and enjoyed listening to Doc Holiday and the pianist from dinner perform Christmas tunes. Santa was on hand giving out candy canes to the kids. Then as it serendipitously began to snow, we went across the road to the lawn, where there was a bonfire and free s'mores making before we called it a night.
The next day (Christmas Day) after breakfast, we went to the indoor pool. The kids loved the tube slide there, and my husband and I enjoyed the whirlpool. He also went for the sauna. There are massages available too, for a fee, of course. We then went for lunch at the Roman Garden Cafe, where the soup was delicious and the kids' mac-n-cheese was served in a dinosaur character souvenir bowl. After lunch, we put our girls in the kids camp, where aside from typical games and crafts, they would be making jewelry for a $6 per child fee. While our kids were in the camp, my husband and I went horseback riding (also a fee, of $40 per person for an hour). It was beautiful, with the light dusting of snow from the night before, and we saw lots and lots of groups of deer along the trail. We then played Bingo in the lounge, which was fun for adults and kids alike. Christmas dinner was served family style, and since we had some dietary concerns, the staff was extremely accommodating, serving a platter of fish instead of ham. The sweet potatoes were terrific, as was the mashed cauliflower with cheese. The turkey and fish were mediocre. After dinner, one kid in each of our families was in the "Kids Say the Darndest Things," run by Doc Holiday and his wife, Joy. He was wonderful in asking the kids questions, whose answers delighted the crowd. We then put the kids in the Night Camp, which was only $5 per kid from 9-12 pm, while the adults went to see Brad Zimmerman, the comedian. He was hysterical, and as we were chatting after the show and he was on his way out, he stopped and chatted with us for a bit.
The day we left, some of us went back to the rock wall area, while my older daughter and I went bowling. There was a nominal fee for this, and after playing two games plus shoe rentals, the bowling cost me about $12. I actually enjoyed the fact that I had to keep score the old-fashioned way, with a pencil and paper. The alley also had bumpers for the kids. We then went ice skating with the kids again before heading on the road for home.
One of the most outstanding features of this resort was Doc Holiday. The free entertainment throughout our stay was enjoyable and varied, and he had a wonderful personality and made us all feel truly welcome. His wife was lovely, too. Even though the weather conditions did not allow for sledding, tubing, or skiing, we still had enough to do for the amount of time we were there.
The only negatives were the frigid hallways, which also had a slightly unpleasant sort of dirty-sock odor. Not sure why, since it appeared new-ish, and was very clean. I think that this place was originally designed as a summer-only resort, so that there is no heat in the halls. It was slightly unpleasant to walk from warm rooms and lounges into such cold hallways. But it didn't really impact our overall enjoyment of our stay. I did not get to use the fitness center, partly because its location in a separate building made me less inclined to drag myself out of bed to work out.
If you are looking for a fun-filled family vacation for a reasonable price that's not too far from home (if you live in downstate New York or Long Island, as we do), then I highly recommend Villa Roma. There aren't too many Catskills resorts like this left with quality family entertainment. We're thinking of making Villa Roma an annual family tradition for this time of year!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The Villa Roma Resort and Conference Center is proud to announce that we have just received the Fodor’s Choice 2010 Award. The Awards are given to the "best of the best," in hotel/resort destinations providing remarkable experiences in price range, destination, or category. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Villa Roma Hotel Callicoon
- Hotel Roma
- Villa Roma Resort And Conference Center Callicoon, NY - Catskill Region