I miss summers when the days seemed to never end. Back then my now teens were little people, they were entertained by easy days spent in a small backyard pool, a few games of kickball and some dollar store popsicles. We had plenty of fun right in our own neighborhood. Now that they’re more grown up, I feel like life gets too busy, and we need to leave the norm to get quality time together. We enjoy traveling, but we can’t always get away.
Enter the staycation.
A few years ago, a friend of mine mentioned that she was planning a staycation. This was before a staycation was a thing. My friend and her family were going to totally unplug from life as usual, check into a local hotel and stay as tourists just twenty minutes from home. Her kids were excited about it. And it was a smashing success for their family.
Since then, we’ve been believers. Whether it’s the entire family or just me and my husband, we set aside time to staycation on a regular basis – all the good of a getaway with none of the intense planning and travel time.
Staycation Destination: IP Casino Resort in Biloxi
There really is something for everyone here on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Our most recent family staycation destination was the IP Casino Resort in Biloxi. For two weeks before our getaway, our family life had been frantic at best. When we arrived, we felt like walking zombies in need of non-stop sleep for two days. Pretty soon, all that angst melted away as we relaxed into the chill environment that is the IP Casino Resort.
Stay and Play
The IP Casino Resort offers modern luxe rooms, an incredible full-service spa, a luxury roof top pool, lounges for all personalities complete with live entertainment, an arcade, golf, plenty of gaming options – and most importantly, a multitude of dining options for all tastes. A fun, luxe vibe carries throughout the entire property, and there really is plenty to do without every leaving the resort property. For us, the private lounge chairs by the pool were just the ticket. And then there was the food…
I’ve previously dined at thirty-two, which I’d recommend to you as one of the best dining experiences on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. The thirty-two menu and service are out of this world, and their wine selection is one of the best, if not THE best, to be found on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
On this staycation, however, we wanted to keep the fun tempo up, so we chose Tien, the IP Casino Resort’s Asian teppanyaki dining concept, more commonly known to most of us as hibachi style dining.
Tien is an AAA Four Diamond Restaurant that offers just as much sophistication as it does fun. Diners are offered traditional table service, seating at the raw bar or reserved seating at the teppanyaki table. The menu offers samples from a variety of Asian cuisines including Vietnamese, Korean, Chinese and Japanese.
Our table served up an incredible view of the Biloxi Bay. The tables are comfortable, and their semicircle design (rather than square) offers everyone a perfect view. A greeting from Chef Vu began a fun night of food paired with delicious wine.
We started with the Ahi Poke Tuna Crisps and a nice glass of Elk Cove Pinot Gris. I commented to the waitress that I could have eaten just this and left incredibly satisfied. The fresh tuna was cut into cubes and piled on top of crispy fried wonton skins, then topped with a spicy housemade chili sauce and ponzo. Starting with a crunch and ending with an explosion of flavors with a bit of a kick at the very end, this is one perfectly sized, flavorful bite! I can’t wait to return and have a full plate of these for my dinner!
Next, we enjoyed Miso soup as well as a salad with a light housemade ginger dressing; none of that thick heavy stuff served at other hibachi places found here.
For our teppanyaki, we chose several different items including vegetables, scallops, shrimp, filet mignon and Australian lobster. Are you imagining this???
Our chef put on a great show and served us tasty rice and seasoned vegetables to accompany our smorgasbord of proteins. Chef cooked both our seafood and steak perfectly. Mississippi Gulf Shrimp and sea scallops were tender and sweet. I’d never had Australian lobster, but it is sweeter and a little more dense than Maine lobster, a lot like a fresh spiny lobster, if you’re familiar with that. The filet was tender, cooked medium rare, just like I like it. It melted in my mouth.
We, of course, finished off with the Chocolate Molten Cake. If you’ve been reading for any time at all, you know that I’m a sucker for chocolate – and this cake was worth every calorie! A warm, rich chocolate cake, oozing with decadent chocolate “lava” served alongside a creamy vanilla ice cream scoop! A lavish finish to a decadent meal.
But Wait… There’s more.
The IP Casino Resort has plenty of daytime dining options, too, including some very impressive pool food on their rooftop pool deck. I never thought I’d say this, but the pool bar food looked like it stepped out off the front cover of a food magazine’s summer edition. When I opened the menu at Quench, their pool restaurant, I was surprised by my choices – certainly not the typical nachos, burgers, sandwiches and french fries menu I was expecting. Plus, the oh, so kind pool bar manager made me a cocktail and helped me make my menu selections. He explained at-length how their in-house discussions led to the addition of healthy and flavorful menu items.
A hummus platter, a fruit bowl, and BLT lobster sliders were the winning choices. (Yes, you read correctly – from a pool bar.) My hummus platter was complete with creamy, garlicky housemade hummus, Greek olives, roasted peppers, feta cheese, and plenty of pita bread. It could easily compare with those I’ve had at my favorite Greek restaurants. Bold flavors atop the hummus paired with fresh pita bread made for a savory treat by the pool.
The fruit was all fresh: pineapple, honeydew, grapes and apples served with a honey mint glaze to dip or drizzle. It was sweet and fragrant, and I’ve since recreated this hit at home.
The bar manager suggested the lobster sliders, so I ordered them, too. Sweet lobster meat with lettuce, tomato, bacon and a little mayo – very different and thoroughly enjoyable.
All of this eating left me thirsty. Quench offers many frozen drink specialties and so much more food than what I was able to taste. Here, you don’t have to feel like you will sacrifice a good lunch for a pool day. They have it all!
Even in Staycation mode we couldn’t take in all that the IP Casino Resort has to offer including Costa Cucina, which offers fresh Italian dinner selections and wood fired oven pizzas. High Tide Cafe is open for three meals a day plus late night when you’re hungry for a casual meal. The popular Back Bay Buffet offers nightly specials. The Highlights Sports Lounge with it’s 65 plasma screens is a great place to watch games from all over the world; plus, they have a daily happy hour from 5 – 8 p.m. Last, I must mention that I did properly evaluate their Infusion Coffee Bar (you’d expect nothing less from me, right?) where I enjoyed lattes, fresh house made pastries and sandwiches; it’s conveniently located in the hotel lobby.
>> The IP Casino Resort has a lot to offer! I enjoyed my staycation, and so will you! Win your own staycation at IP Casino Resort, including a one-night stay for two and a $100 Gift Certificate to Tien when you register to win.