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“Absurdly overpriced summer camp”

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Earthshine Discovery Center
Reviewed 26 September 2017

First and foremost, as strange as it might seem, this - a two star review amongst the five star perfection ones - is an honest and objective review from a family that is not strange to world traveling. I wish I would have read a review like this before plunging over $2k on this place for four nights.

I will start with the positives. As many reviewers here stated, the kitchen staff is very friendly and warm hearted, and the scenery is breathtaking. Hence the two stars. Now let me share our experience. When we arrived, noticed that out of approximately 10 rooms, only couple of them were occupied. In spite of that, we got a crummy smelly room with warped wood floors, worn out bedding and very uncomfortable beds. The loft had two cots that essentially were two cheap mattresses on wood planks. Neither me nor my wife could get a decent night sleep. The bathroom was dirty (check the pictures) with worn out towels. The first impression was that this place hadn't been refurbished in ages. The room service was non-existent. I think the poor ladies from the kitchen do it in their downtime. The doors do not lock and you can hear your neighbors like they are in your room. Their so called hosts change every day, sometimes twice a day. The entire staff leaves after the “evening activity”. There is nobody at night there. You be the judge how safe it is not to have staff to respond to different nighttime situations and ensure safety of the guests. The activities range from lame to O.K. They do not offer zip-lining and horseback riding anymore. Told us that the zip lines tire the trees. The reality, I think, is that they do not have/want to spend money on maintenance and qualified staff. The fact that this place is opened only couple of months a year (the main operation), it is self-explanatory why it might be too expensive to maintain a full-time qualified staff. Bear in mind that most of them are NOT suited for children under 10 and some (i.e. axe throwing) are outright dangerous for little tots. The management should disclose this before taking people’s money. Speaking of management, you would think that these people would introduce themselves to new guests and show them that they care. For the whole time being there, we had never been asked how our experience was. The only time we met Amy (a secretary I believe) who took our money was at the end. She could care less of why we are leaving earlier.

In the end, it is so sad that such a wonderful idea was turned into an absurdly overpriced summer camp. If you think this is just one spoiled customer's venting and exaggeration, and still want to go, just pay for the room and food. That way you might be able to choose your activities and pay separately and/or not feel so bad about being screwed.

  • Stayed: August 2017, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Service
Thank Zuzkin
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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1 - 5 of 62 reviews

Reviewed 15 August 2017

Family of 5 - 3 boys ages 9,8,4 stayed here for 5 days, 4 nights. This was the best family vacation we have ever had and we plan on returning every year without a doubt. The resort is on a very pretty piece of land with great views of the mountains and clouds / mist moving through the valleys. The staff and organization was the truly remarkable part. Each staff member we met seemed happy to be there and treated us as if they were happy that we were there. Earthshine has 2/3 activities per day led by staff. The activities are fun, creative, and interactive. I asked my boys which was their favorites and they had trouble choosing the best. All were incredible. We brought with us balls, games and other things to occupy ourselves, but we never grabbed them because there is so much to do. Back to the staff and activities, they weren't just nice, they loved on my family. Example, on the rock climbing exercise they encouraged several in my family to achieve greater than they thought. This was a growing experience and several in the group achieved more that they thought they could thanks to the encouragement of the staff and safe environment. The food was exceptional. Each meal was well thought out and very good. The staff made grilled cheese sandwich for my picky 4 year old and saved pizza from lunch so he could have at dinner. The other guests were great, too and I saw my boys quickly make friends with the other kids. There was a scavenger hunt activity where the boys lost to the girls by 1 point, but all had a blast including the parents and Ellen. MK, Moe, Karen, Liz, Ellen, Sarah, Nick, James, Amy were all wonderful. Moe led many of the activities and he is exceptionally gifted for this job. Great personality working with the kids, great attitude, great teaching ability. My kids did not watch tv (there are none) and didn't play the ipads this whole week. They didn't even notice. They were busy with the activities, catching lightning bugs, hiking, playing with the other kids. Lodging: This is not a Ritz Carlton. There is not room service, baby sitting, they do not have luxury towels,...This is a mountain lodge that is kid / family friendly and safe. If you need something, ask, staff will provide. Beds are ok, towels are fine, rooms are all right. If you want a luxury vacation, this isn't the place. If you want a remarkable family experience where you can watch your kids have fun without technology, all inclusive, fun, fun, fun, this is the place for you. We parked our car Monday at 11:00a and didn't touch it until Friday at 2:00p.

  • Stayed: August 2017, travelled with family
    • Location
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Thank KSM9999
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Karen M, Owner at Earthshine Discovery Center, responded to this reviewResponded 16 August 2017

Thank you for choosing us for your vacation. Your family was so much fun! We hope to see you again next year. And thank you for your wonderful review!

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Reviewed 6 August 2017 via mobile

Absolutely wonderful! The natural world of trees, grand views,hummingbirds, rocking chairs; all the peace producing alternatives to our crazy manicured real life, abound!
But the greatest assets? The people who work here. Guests are greeted at their cars for luggage help and instructions, tours if you'd like. Lemonaid, iced tea and water are offered.
The kind, helpful, smiling staff members make the whole experience awesome, in my opinion!!

Stayed: August 2017
Thank Arianna W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 30 July 2017 via mobile

This place is a slice of family heaven. The people, led by owners Karen and Liz, are warm, generous, fun and kind. Everyone, I mean, everyone on staff, made an effort to connect with us personally. They all had an even-keeled approach to children, so that the excitement and enthusiasm of fun activities and other children left the staff not only un-phased, but often giggling and even joining the fun. The living history of Cherokee and Pioneer villages was totally hands on, engaging and engrossing education! Adventure courses challenged us and the hikes were invigorating and informative. A beautiful vista on two comfortable porches greeted us during down time. And we all enjoyed bonding with other families also staying there. The food, by chefs Nick and Sarah, was down home delicious and prepared exactly to our family's many allergies. We left with hearts and bellies full. We are so grateful to the people of Earthshine. Thank you, Liz and Karen, Nick and Sarah, MK and Mo, Cassidy and James, and Amy and Violet!!! We'll be back :-)

Stayed: July 2017, travelled with family
1  Thank Booneidee
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Karen M, Owner at Earthshine Discovery Center, responded to this reviewResponded 16 August 2017

Thank you for your wonderful review. We really enjoyed having your family here! We hope you will consider us for your family vacation next year. Thank you again!

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Reviewed 22 February 2017 via mobile

The setting is wonderfully rustic.
the accommodations are very comfortable and the food is outstanding
This is a great place for hospitality and to get a real flavor of Southern living in the mountains
I love this place

Stayed: October 2016, travelled solo
Thank lhickle
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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Additional Information about Earthshine Discovery Center

Address: 1600 Golden Rd, Lake Toxaway, NC 28747-5717 (Formerly Earthshine Mountain Lodge)
Phone Number:
Region: United States > North Carolina > North Carolina Mountains > Lake Toxaway
Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Kitchenette Restaurant Suites Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #3 of 4 Speciality Lodging in Lake Toxaway
Price Range: $225 - $291 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Number of rooms: 12
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Remember that sense of wonder and adventure that gave childhood its magic? Well, get ready to feel it again. Escape to a storybook place guaranteed to exceed your expectations. Your family can unplug and reconnect with one another in an environment free of digital distractions. Earthshine is "unforgettable." ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Earthshine Mountain Hotel Lake Toxaway

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