Here are some things to consider when choosing your lodgings.
Families flock to resorts in the summertime, whether here in Ontario, elsewhere in Canada, in the U.S., or in some exotic destination. And there are plenty of family-friendly options to choose from. But even resorts that cater to families can fall short if they don’t meet your expectations, needs, or price.
So before you book, think about what you need to have a comfortable, stress-free family vacation and ask questions. Here are some things to consider when booking a resort near or afar.
Accessibility. The last thing you want on your vacation is the frustration of trying to manoeuvre a stroller round a too tight corner or through heavy double doors. So if you’ve got a baby in a stroller, choose a resort that’s “accessible”, advises Corinne McDermott of www.HaveBabyWillTravel.com. “If a resort advertises that it’s barrier-free, or wheelchair accessible, chances are you’ll be able to navigate it with a stroller.”
Accommodations. Having enough space at your resort means that you can put your kids to bed and not have to retreat to the bathroom to watch a movie with your spouse on a laptop or tablet! A separate bedroom, two rooms, or even adjoining suites will ensure that “family fun” is not just for the kids.
Eating In. Is there a kitchenette available? Okay, the last thing I want to do on vacation is cook, but there is no denying the usefulness (and cost savings) associated with having a fridge, microwave, coffee machine and basic utensils and dishes. You can store breastmilk, snacks for the kids, breakfast items and even a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc for after the kids’ bedtime!
Eating Out. Keep your dining options open. In-resort dining can be very expensive if it’s not included in your package, points out Nora James, mom of two girls. “Even if they provide a coupon for the in-house restaurant, it may still be outrageously priced!” James suggests googling nearby restaurants for pricing and menus, before you head out.
Hospitals. Ten minutes into a summer hike, my two year old developed an allergic reaction to something. Her breathing became wheezy and ragged, and she developed a flaming rash. We ran back to the car and drove helter skelter, trying to find a hospital or walk-in clinic. By pure dumb luck, we hit on one of those blue H signs and followed it. Since then, we don’t travel anywhere without knowing where medical services are located.
Check In/Check Out. Feel cheated by late check-ins and early check-outs? “I hate to waste good resort time,” says Tim Hubbard, dad of three. His solution: find a place that gives you bonus use of its facilities. “On a recent trip to a water slide resort, we arrived at 1 pm but discovered that our room wouldn’t be ready til 4 pm. But the resort let us use the slides and pool right away and we had a great afternoon.” And on the day of check out, Hubbard learned his family could use the facilities til closing at 8 pm. “Now, that was great value.”
What’s Included? Don’t get a nasty surprise when you receive your bill. Find out exactly what’s included in your resort stay – how many nights, how many meals, and how many activities. What’s extra? Are there any additional service charges or fees? And when you book, do it over the phone, not online. It may be to your advantage. “As I was speaking to the customer service rep at an Ontario resort, the price kept going down,” reports James. “Then I mentioned I was a CAA member and I got an even greater discount.”
Kids’ Club. These can be great if they include lots of activities and cater to your kids’ age and interests. But make sure your child is going to be well supervised and safe, says Corinne McDermott. Ask your friends about their experiences and read online reviews at www.tripadvisor.com.
Location. Make sure you’re where you want to be. “If you know you want to spend most of your time on the beach, it might be worth the extra expense to choose a beachfront resort,” says McDermott.