Full service hotels are such a treat when I travel with just may husband…which is never. Someday, God willing, we’ll get the chance to shack up at fancy hotels with king size beds and minibars. For now, we are traveling with three kids, and all three officially wear bigger shoes than I do.
The fact that the kids are getting older, and that there are three of them, means I look for specific things when I’m hunting for accommodations. First of all, I consider it a sport to find the snazziest possible digs for the least cost. I love resorts, and I’ve become spoiled by high quality bedding over the past few years, but it’s not because I spend a fortune. There are amazing deals to be had and I love the hunt.
There are some basic things I’ve learned to look for that I know will make everyone happy.
A kitchen – Feeding a family of five is ungodly expensive and inconvenient if you don’t have a kitchen, especially with a couple of teenage boys in the mix. Keeping a stock of food that your family is accustomed to makes it easy to grab something to eat if you wake up earlier than everyone else, or get hungry at midnight. There have been times when we’ve really taken advantage of the full kitchen, but even a mini-kitchen with a sink, fridge, and microwave will do the trick. It also makes it easy to pack a quick cooler full of drinks and reasonably healthy snacks if you are heading out for the entire day.
Multiple bedrooms - At this point, two bedrooms are an absolute must. But there are a few things thing to keep your eye on when looking for two bedrooms. Some resorts try to sneak those full size beds into the second bedroom and say it sleeps four people. Full size beds do not sleep two people, and certainly not teenage siblings. I always look for queen size beds in the second bedroom. I hate fold out couches, but unless you always stay in three bedroom units, they’re a necessary evil when you have three or more kids.
In room laundry – Once you’ve had laundry facilities in your room on a family vacation, you will never want to live without it again. It makes packing easier and lighter, and can even save you money on checked bags. Also, I find it easier to wash clothes and pack them clean, than lug a bunch of dirty clothes home and then wash them.
A patio with a view – Okay, I’m getting a little picky here, but this one is for me. I live in the suburbs of Minnesota, and it’s gorgeous. But when I’m among the mountains or on the ocean, I love to just sit and be part of it. A chair, a book, a beer, and a view. What could be better?
Teenage friendly entertainment – A space where the kids can shoot pool, play chess, join a Wii contest, or just hang out with other kids is like gold. Even when we have busy days planned, the kids love to check in at the recreation room in the evenings and wind down.
Great poolside bars – On pool days, my family enjoys ordering lunch from the pool side bar. My daughter always orders a virgin Pina Colada. and can rank where she’s gotten the best ones, from Orlando to Phoenix to Fort Lauderdale.
Accessible Groceries – Resorts can sometimes be built off the beaten track, and having easy access to daily items is important. If I”m not going to have a car, I always make sure there is transportation like a bus or trolley available to get me to the store. If you rely on taxis, it will cost you $4o for a ride to Walmart…and then $4o for the ride back. I’m just sayin’.
So I’m gong to start reviewing some of the great resorts we’ve been lucky enough to stay at. I’m not going to include anything I really hated, because what’s the point of that? There haven’t been many, but I don’t want to wast my time or yours talking about yucky resorts. Recommended resorts only around here.
Look for the first one shortly!