Home Away From Home: In Search of the Perfect Hotel Part One

Every hotel stay should be this blissful, don't you think?

Every hotel stay should be this blissful, don't you think?

Is there such a thing? AK Fam has traveled the spectrum between faboulous and flophouse when it comes to accommodations in these United States. From the low-budget motel on Interstate 90 in Montana that amplified noise from 50 or more tractor-trailers into our room along with subsequent diesel fumes, to the charming seaside cottage in Homer, Alaska where soothing ambiance settled my frazzled mom-psyche almost immediately upon setting foot on the plank floor, we’ve seen it all.

It’s easy to find hotels these days; the internet has assisted us in that respect. But even the World Wide Web cannot provide a perfect view of a property’s inside and out appropriateness for families. Sometimes what families want to know and what properties disclose in marketing materials are two different things.

One of AK Fam’s Tweeps recently posed the question “what do you look for when researching hotels?” (I will thank him personally for giving me this idea. Mucho Gracias, Casey at Hampton Inn and Suites Fairbanks.) Alaskan lodging options range from hotel-chain familiarity to individually owned properties, including bed and breakfasts, cabins, and cottages all over the state. Today we present you with Part One of “Home Away from Home”:

Enough beds? My brother spent just about every family vacation on a rollaway bed. Yep, hotels still have them, but you have to ask, and sometimes ask twice. Many properties now feature sofas that transform into a lounge/bed sort of thing, but some are more comfortable than others. Ask. Ask again, remind the reservation person on the other end of the phone that children will need a place to sleep. If staying in a cabin or independent lodging (i.e. not a hotel) triple check the occupancy number. “Seven” in a two-bedroom cabin means somebody’s sleeping on a futon in the living room, not exactly great atmosphere for a party if a kid needs to crash in the middle of the party and the grownups are sitting on his or her bed playing Scrabble until midnight. Oops. Ask how those numbers match up to actual, real beds. 

Food? This is not relavant to those of you bringing your own for an independent stay, or for those of you who eat out every morning, noon, and night. AK Fam has become quite interested in hotels who offer, and deliver upon, the promise of a “full, hot, breakfast”. All three words. Kids must eat breakfast before heading out to a day of Alaskan wildernress fun. End of story. Fruit Loops and an orange do not a full breakfast make. I know many children (my own included) who thrive on cold cereal at home but eat like lumberjacks on vacation, and I take advantage of this gastronomic transformation to fill them up before we leave. I also love, love, love hotels who put out fresh fruit and snacks for families to snag on their way out the door (or on the way back in, for that matter). Bananas, apples, and a package of trail mix go a long way around 2 p.m. when the family is still on the move.

Ambiance? Even kids need to know they are welcomed into the temporary fold, and hotels who greet our kids personally and don’t screw up their faces in displeasure at the thougth of potential complaints because of running feet down the upstairs hallway, or noise in the swimming pool, or SpongeBob Squarepants on the lobby television goes a heckuva long way in our book. So does a basket of kid-friendly books in the same lobby to amuse kids while parents are checking in and out. 

Let us know, parents, what makes a standout place of temporary residence? Who has performed admirably; let us know and we’ll go visit if we can. Are you a hotel manager who offers something unique? Tell us about it. If we all work together,  maybe days and nights can be blissful, no matter where we roam.

Part Two Coming Soon!

Posted in Hotels, Logistics With Kids.