Hot and Bothered at the Lawrence Welk Resort

It was with some ambivalence that we exchanged into the Lawrence Welk Resort. We heard it was nice, but it's for old people, right? Well, yes and no....


Hot and Bothered at the Lawrence Welk Resort

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by thecopes on September 17, 2003

As you'll read in the journal entries, the villas are spacious and well-appointed, and the golf courses and pool areas are excellent.

The Escondido location puts San Diego, Orange County and the ocean beaches all within easy driving distance.

The music playing over the PA in the village shopping area is Lawrence Welk signature "champagne music" and I was worried that it would be playing everywhere throughout the resort and would drive me insane (or worse -- I might start to like it!). I was relieved when I heard the rock music playing in the various rec rooms. In fact, at one point, I heard Santana's "Soul Sacrifice" back-to-back with Jimi Hendrix "If Six was Nine"! Just as I was feeling young and hip, my 13-year-old son reminded me that those songs are both almost 35 years old!${QuickSuggestions} Get there a little before the 4pm check-in time. We arrived at 3:30 and, although our room wasn't quite ready, we were still able to check-in quickly and receive our keys and parking pass. A little after 4pm, the line to check-in was almost out the door.

Flying in to Orange County is a little easier than San Diego. It's about the same distance away and much less crowded.

If you don't like the heat, avoid going there in August. While it's comfortable in the early morning and late evening, the rest of the time it's pretty much too hot to do anything outside except go to the pool.${BestWay} You can walk anywhere in the resort easily although it's pretty hot in the middle of the day in August. Shuttles are offered in the evenings to the theater and restaurant from the rec rooms.

To explore the area, you'll need a car. The resort is just off I-15 giving you quick access to San Diego and Orange County.


Lawrence Welk Resort Villas - Part 1

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by thecopes on September 17, 2003

Best Things Nearby:
Well, that depends on your defintion of "nearby". The resort itself is set in the middle of nowhere near I-15 about 6 miles north of the city of Escondido. So if your definition of "nearby" is walking distance, then besides the resort, the only thing nearby is a Texaco station. But if you use the more typical California definition of "nearby", i.e. "you can drive there in an hour or less", then San Diego, Orange County, and the Pacific Ocean are "nearby".

Best Things About the Resort:
This is definitely the most spacious two-bedroom condo we've ever stayed in. Each area of condos has its own rec room and swimming pool. If you're a golfer, you have your choice of two courses.

Resort Experience:
When we wanted to exchange some Florida time that we were unable to use, we were looking for something in California that was close to Big Bear Lake so we could organize a two week vacation. When the Lawrence Welk Resort was available, we hesitated. I mean, my wife's GRANDMOTHER liked LW but even my parents (the originators of the command "Turn that crap down!") thought he was square. So I checked out the resort web site and saw the pictures of the 1400 sq. ft. villas, the multiple swimming pools and that it was a gold crown resort and decided it looked great and if I had to listen to some accordion music to enjoy it, so be it.

We checked in on a Friday afternoon about a half hour early to beat the rush. We were greeted by a friendly older woman who offered us a piece of candy and inquired where we were from while we waited for the next desk clerk. Check in was smooth and quick. Since we were early we wandered the "shopping plaza" for a half hour until our room was ready. The village consists of a gift store, a clothing store, a small market, and a deli/pizza restaurant. I'm guessing the target demographic for the gift store and clothing store is not the one I'm currently in although I guess it gives me something to look forward to. Is one of the symptoms of advancing years the desire to buy a straw hat and a loud polyester shirt? If so, they got 'em! The market had the basics and also featured an ice cream and fudge shoppe, but the prices were a little steep. It was an OK place to buy a newspaper or a bottle of soda, but better to do your grocery shopping for the week at Safeway about 6 miles down the road.

A quick comment about the employees at the resort: We found all of the older employees to be exceedingly friendly, helpful, and enthusiastic. The younger employees were decidedly the opposite -- maybe they were upset that their parents made them get a job, at the Lawrence Welk Resort no less! The domestic help is all Hispanic and while there is nothing wrong with that, my wife, who speaks some Spanish, had difficulty communicating with the maid to tell her that our son was still sleeping when she came to clean our villa.

The two story villas are divided into three sections: Broadway Hill, Melody Hill, and Harmony Hill. There is also a new section in varying phases of construction and completion called Villas on the Green (this is where the timeshare selling activity is – we declined their invitation for a tour). The original hotel is also on the site and is next to the well-known Mr. W’s Restaurant. Each villa section has its own swimming pool and spa. Broadway Hill and Harmony Hill have recreation rooms with two pool tables, two ping pong tables, and other activities. Melody Hill (where we were) has an exercise room, two tennis courts, and a sauna. The pool at Melody Hill is adults-only until 2 pm.

See Part 2 for information about the villa interior.

Welk Resort San Diego
8860 Lawrence Welk Drive
Escondido, California, 92026
(760) 749-3000

Lawrence Welk Resort Villas - Part 2

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by thecopes on September 17, 2003

Best Things Nearby:
Well, that depends on your defintion of "nearby". The resort itself is set in the middle of nowhere near I-15 about 6 miles north of the city of Escondido. So if your definition of "nearby" is walking distance, then besides the resort, the only thing nearby is a Texaco station. But if you use the more typical California definition of "nearby", i.e. "you can drive there in an hour or less", then San Diego, Orange County, and the Pacific Ocean are "nearby".

Best Things About the Resort:
This is definitely the most spacious two-bedroom condo we've ever stayed in. Each area of condos has its own rec room and swimming pool. If you're a golfer, you have your choice of two courses.

Resort Experience:
The interior of the villas is the most spacious we've ever seen. The second floor villas have vaulted ceilings that add to the feeling of space. The villa has central air conditioning as well as ceiling fans. The fixtures, furniture, and decorating in general are very tasteful.

The kitchen area was large and well-stocked with utensils and the appliances were either new or in excellent shape. The dining area featured a round table and 4 chairs. The living area contained a sleep sofa, love seat, chair, and 25 inch TV. Since we had 2 bedrooms we didn't need to try the sleep sofa so we can't comment on its comfort. Beyond the living area was a very large deck with room for a round table and chairs as well as two lounge chairs. Ours was in shade most of the day which made it a very comfortable place to enjoy breakfast and to relax and read. At breakfast each morning, I was joined by a barn owl that eyed me from a safe distance in the rafters of the deck in the unit next door (which was vacant).

The bedrooms were good sized with plenty of closet space. The master bedroom has a king bed and the other has two twins. The beds were very comfortable although I can't say the same for the pillows - you might want to bring your own. Each room has a 19 inch TV - channel selection is excellent with plenty for kids and adults, including HBO. Bathrooms are very large with double sinks, a soaking tub/shower combination in the master and a large shower in the other, and separate private toilets.

Some minor complaints: the kitchen cabinets showed a little wear, one dining room chair had a partially broken frame, one of the TV remotes didn't work, and a wooden beam on the deck was showing some dry rot. While the master bedroom had plenty of closet space there was no dresser and the armoire had no drawers like the one in the other bedroom. Although the villa was generally well prepared for us, we found a ball and a book under the beds from the previous guests and a piece of broken glass in the entryway.

Welk Resort San Diego
8860 Lawrence Welk Drive
Escondido, California, 92026
(760) 749-3000

Lawrence Welk Theatre

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by thecopes on September 18, 2003

Not many resorts outside of Vegas can boast of their own live theater. The Lawrence Welk Theatre is a 339 seat venue featuring Broadway type shows. The day we arrived they were just wrapping up Sound of Music. Opening later in the week was Annie Get Your Gun. Closing one show and opening another in the same week with two different casts is ambitious to say the least. We went to see AGYG at its third show of the run (their first evening performance) and while it was excellent, there were still some early performance jitters. In fact we caught them that afternoon behind the theater still painting backdrops. The show started late - we weren't even allowed into the theater until ten minutes after the announced curtain time.

While I confess to not being familiar with any of the actors, several had extensive experience, particularly in soap operas. All the singers had fine voices, and the microphone and sound system were excellent. And one actor even knew how to twirl a lasso with a good bit of skill.

Ticket prices were reasonable and with the discount for a child's ticket and an additional discount for being resort guests, the three of us went for about $70. For an additional $12-$15 you can enjoy a buffet lunch or dinner before the show at Mr. W's restaurant.

The seats are very comfortable but the slope of the auditorium is not very steep so depending on your height and that of the person sitting in front of you, you may experience some difficulty seeing without craning your neck like our 13-year-old son and I both had to do. There are only 11 rows so even in the back (we were in the ninth row) you feel close to the stage.

Our son generally shows disdain for musicals, but the fact that AGYG has several popular and hummable tunes along with some fancy shootin' made for an enjoyable family evening activity.

A little bit of that "Oh no, I'm old because I'm enjoying a show at the Lawrence Welk Theater" paranoia crept in to my thoughts a few times during the evening. The lobby of the theater also serves as the Lawrence Welk Museum and it's actually a fairly interesting (oh, no, I'm feeling old!) display of photos, biographical information, and artifacts.

Welk Resort Theatre
860 Lawrence Welk Drive
Escondido, California, 92026
(760) 749-3448

The Oaks or How To Get Your Butt Kicked By A Kid

Member Rating 2 out of 5 by thecopes on September 18, 2003

Let's just say if the course doesn't have a windmill or a clown, I probably haven't played on it. I keep telling people that I'm not old enough to play real golf. My mantra is the same as Bugs Bunny: "Gee, don't you get tired running them 18 bases?" I tried that on a kid golfing on the first tee - he was not amused.

Anyways, the Lawrence Welk Resort has a great deal on their par 3 course, The Oaks. Mom, 13 year old son, and I were able to play for a grand total of $66 which included cost of the round, pull carts, clubs, balls, and tees. Since we're not golfers, we went the day before to get all the info. The young guy in the pro shop was moderately helpful but only if we asked the right questions - he didn't exactly volunteer information. An older fellow who doled out the clubs and carts (sorry, I don't know what to call him - Greensman? Club Guy? Majordomo? Arnold Palmer?) was very helpful and made us feel welcome and encouraged even though it was obvious we were golf-ignorant.

We called the next day for a late afternoon tee time (to minimize heat exhaustion) and were told our time was 4:17 pm. Not 4:00, not 4:15, not 4:30, but 4:17. Wow, they must have this down to a science. We arrived in time to pay and get all our stuff so we could be on the course at 4:17. Along with the other two groups that showed up at the same time! So much for a well regulated start time. One group decided to just start on the second hole so they could be ahead of us. I think they could tell we were novices - I felt relieved that they didn't spit on us. The other group was two young boys who politely let us go ahead of them, probably for the comedic entertainment. The older guy we talked to the day before wasn't there. So instead we had to deal with another of the "Lawrence Welk Resort Un-enthusiastic Young Employees". He brought the clubs and then audibly sighed when we asked if he could go get the carts, too.

Once out on the course, it became more apparent that the only person with a clue was our son who has actually played a real round or two and even taken a few lessons. While Mom whacked the ball along the ground and I tried to kill nesting sparrows, Junior hit drive after drive right down the middle. He beat me by ten strokes - it could've been worse but my putting is a little better than his. I have 30 years more experience at mini-golf on him. Mom actually sank the best putt of the day - a beautiful sloping 30 footer on the first hole.

I'd have whipped them both if there had been more windmills.

Lawrence Welk Resort Villas
8860 Lawrence Welk Drive
Escondido, California, 92026
(760) 749-3225

Palomar Observatory

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by thecopes on September 18, 2003

If you are not into astronomy or winding mountain roads, you can probably skip the Palomar Observatory. My wife and I enjoyed the somewhat harrowing drive up Palomar Mountain and, while neither of us are big astronomy buffs, we found the telescope interesting –- we spent most of our time there trying to figure how it worked. Our 13-year-old son, however, was decidedly under-whelmed. It wasn’t as bad as the Griswolds driving 2 hours out of their way to see the world’s second largest ball of twine, but it may have been close in his mind. It probably had more to do with this being our last day of vacation, having to wake him up early so we could check out of the resort, and school starting in a few days.

It takes about an hour to drive there from Escondido. From I-15, drive east on Highway 76 about 25 miles and then continue on County Road S-6 for a winding and twisting 8 mile climb to the observatory. The drive on Highway 76 is fairly pleasant and scenic, passing farms and ranches (and some abandoned buildings). At one point, you enter the Pala Indian Reservation where you pass the HUGE Pala Casino. What’s interesting is that you see the "Entering Pala Indian Reservation" highway sign at one boundary of the casino property and the "Leaving Pala Indian Reservation" highway sign at the other boundary of the casino! Looks like they made good use of the land – the place looked packed. Once you get on S-6 the drive gets real interesting. It’s curves and hairpin turns rival anything we’ve ever driven in the mountains of the Northwest. The views are terrific but what made it fairly harrowing is that apparently everyone in Southern California who owns a racing motorcycle chose this day to ride up and down the mountain. The brightly colored Suzukis and Hondas were everywhere, like a swarm of bees, zooming by us, and making those racing bike turns where the driver’s kneecap is one inch from the road. There wasn’t a hog, touring, or dirt bike anywhere in sight.

Most of the motorcyclists were headed to the nearby Cleveland State Forest Park, so the final few miles to the observatory was a bit calmer. Even though the observatory is at 5500 feet elevation, it was still pretty hot (this was August – they advise in the wintertime that you need to watch for ice on the road). There is a spacious parking lot and small shaded picnic area. You proceed up a short walkway to the observatory which is open daily from 9 to 4. There is no admission charge. The "tour" is self guided, meaning you walk up the stairs and look through the glass windows at this, uh, technical thing. There are a few posters describing what you’re looking at. One poster described how Cal Tech (which runs the place), Cornell, and Jet Propulsion Labs vie for time on the telescope – I loved the comment that said if it’s cloudy on the night of your assigned time, that’s tough! When we arrived, there were perhaps a dozen people looking through the window and their reaction varied from fascination to "This is it?" One obvious problem is that since they only use the telescope at night, there isn’t anything happening there during the day. It seemed to me it would benefit things if there was a Bill Nye the Science Guy type person there to at least answer questions. But the impression is that the Palomar Observatory is a reluctant tourist attraction – they’d probably prefer no visitors but it’s kind of hard to ignore this big white dome on top of a mountain.

Back down the walkway, there is another building with a small sign saying "Gift Shop". Don’t pass this by. The gift shop is just one small room and surprisingly well stocked with astronomy books, photos, and posters as well as souvenirs (you NEED a Palomar Observatory Frisbee, don’t you?). But next to the gift shop is the unadvertised museum, a big room with lots of terrific photos of various heavenly bodies (no, not Marilyn Monroe) and phenomena. There is also a video playing continuously about the construction of the telescope and observatory. Creating the 200-inch mirror back in the 1930’s was an engineering marvel. I later found out that the company my grandfather worked for built the cradle that the mirror rested in as it was transported across the country by train.

Even if you aren’t enamored of technical things, the Palomar Observatory is an interesting diversion just for the drive alone. You could always go to the State Park instead. At the junction of the S-6 and S-7 (the road to the park), there is an eclectic general store and restaurant/bakery. It’s not often that you see Twinkies, star charts, and wind chimes sold in the same store. The restaurant offers homemade soups and sandwiches and while we didn’t have lunch there, we did enjoy an excellent giant oatmeal raisin cookie from the bakery.


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