For some reason I didn't get a ton of responses from people who want to admit that they've stayed at the Sybaris or Champagne Lodge so today I'm sharing their responses with you supplemented by a few choice reviews from TripAdvisor. (To be fair there are more than a number of very positive reviews for these hotels but those aren't nearly as fun.) Enjoy and pack your antibiotics!
"I stayed at a Sybaris years ago the whole thing was pretty cheesy, like there was actually a mirror over the bed. And every surface that wasn't the bed or the tub was covered in an sort of soft-but-industrial carpeting. Oh, and there were no windows, so that no one could peek in on you doing your sex things. And... the in-room hot tub had some black gunk around the drain that broke loose and floated around when we went to fill it up, which totally ooked us out. But there was a neat steam-shower thing, kind of a sauna-on-demand."
"There's a place in the south suburbs that looks a lot like that Champagne suites place. And if I ever went to one of those, once, years ago, I would tell you that you only ever encounter the front desk lady who looks like she doesn't give a crap. The rooms are in these little duplex or fourplex buildings and they have their own outside entrance so I think everyone just parks near the door and scurries inside. The buildings all have mock windows to make them look like normal houses condos from the outside, but inside there are no windows, and it sort of feels like you're in someone's super-tricked-out basement. There is quite a bit of stereo equipment. Occasionally you find yourself opening the door and peeking outside to see what it's like out. Maybe you discover it has snowed out and then you look down at the snow on your doorstep wondering who is going to shovel."
"We used to call Sybaris "The Syphilis" because a good friend came back from a long weekend at Sybaris with an STD. He vowed never go into the water/hot tubs/waterfalls"
"First we requested a non-smoking room and as soon as we walked into our room we realized that someone had smoked in it. It smelled so bad that we had to wash all our clothes once we got home because they smelled like smoke, and while we were there my eyes started to hurt. It was clearly just a room that they made non-smoking by putting up a sign that said "Non-Smoking Room". Putting up a sign does not make it a non-smoking room. When we filled up the jacuzzi tub (the entire reason we went the Champagne Lodge over a regular hotel) we found that only 2 of the jets were working. We didn't even bother using it. I had booked their nicest room to celebrate our wedding anniversary and requested their wine and cheese plate. The wine was basically grape juice (I cannot fault them if the wine isn't something I enjoy but this was just plain disgusting, I've had better $8 bottles of wine!) and the cheese tray was the $15 Hormel one you can get at the Jewel - they charged me $45 for it. It was still in the Hormel packaging in the fridge. We didn't get any silverware, plates, napkins or anything to eat the food with and we had to go get our own (cheap plastic) wine glasses from the front desk because there weren't any in our room and no one would bring them to us. We weren't given a bottle opener, and then we had to use our car keys to open the plastic on the Hormel cheese tray, and the plastic on the champagne glasses. Eating a party tray snack on the lid it came on after opening it with your teeth and car keys is not exactly the romance I was going for. It was such a disappointing experience that we didn't even stay the night. When I sent an email telling the staff how disappointed we were all they offered was 50% off their cheapest room to come back - I had paid over $300 and only spent about 3 hours in the room because it smelled so bad and the jacuzzi didn't even work, why would I want to come back??"
"So my boyfriend and I of 5 years went to the Sybaris once in January 2010. We stayed in the paradise room. We had a bad experience that time. There was a hair in the shower, the heat was all screwed up, the hot tub was broke, the ground around the pool was rocks, and they were all broken up and they like cut your feet, so we complained and got it for free. Well this time which was our free stay was in the paradise room again...This time it was beyond nasty and horrible. The carpet looked like it has been in there for 20 years, just stained and discolored, there was like throw up/puke around the counter edge, all those little rocks around the pool inside the pool cutting up your feet, no hand soap in or around the bathroom to wash your hands, PUBE/PUUBIC HAIRS IN OUR BED! Now that is gross! We went to pull all the covers back on our bed, and we noticed a few hairs so we looked a little closer, well they were black pube hairs. Also there were crumbs all around the edges of the room, and it is SUPER dusty in there. So we called the front desk and complained and they came over and looked at the room, and upgraded us to the majestic. So we packed our things and went to the majestic. When we got there we checked our bed again....MORE PUBES in the bed! Do not go to the Sybaris. You could get something better at a cheap Motel!"
The following review is titled "PORN PALACE":
"You pull up outside and it looks like a housing project all the small outbuildings are concrete block and all of the windows are blacked out-creepy. Not a good first impression. Then you walk into the reception area and they sell lube and other items that you do not find in a normal hotel. So being as we had already prepaid we checked in and then we got into the room. There was a lighted blacked out mirror thing above the bed with fake stars that lit up being as they had no windows, must be for the view that doesn't exist. Then the bed is only the mattress on the frame no box spring and horrible pillows. Then you turn on the TV and they have free hard core porn. NICE YEAH. We stayed for our stay but needless to say it wasn't the romantic getaway one is supposed to think it is, this hotel has one purpose and one purpose only. Not to say that isn't a good thing on your honeymoon (which we were on) but if it makes you feel dirty to even be in the hotel then it's just not the same you know."
I did not correct any of the spelling in this review:
"Untill I found a used condom in the pool area, vomit in one of the fake plants that decorate the room. and evidently someone must have hit a deer before they went down the slide ( i stayed in the chalet) the fuzzy white bed spread was total stained ( with what ? I don't want to know)
When we went to the front desk to just check out and get a refund. Since I was not paying such aoutrageous price to stay in filth. The girl was extremly rude refused a refund. But offered to comp us a free 4 hr afternoon. A free aftrnoon! what kind of hotel/resort has nooners?! All in all what i thought to be a romantic getaway for my husband and self. Turned into nothing of that nature. terribly disappointed this was at the Frankfort IL location I haven't gone to the other loctions (won't even try) can only speak for this location experience."
"After we checked in, I threw a beach ball in the pool and we jumped in. I then noticed a disgusting green film on the ball!! Apparently, the pool was never properly cleaned! We left immediately and for the next 2 weeks had to take medicine for an infection. It was the most disgusting thing ever! I will never go back!!!!!!!!!"
If these have scared you off, may I recommend the Don Q Inn in the Wisconsin Dells? They have fantasy rooms, in case you've ever wanted to sleep on a bed hanging from chains.