Sunday, 30 October 2011

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Five Ways Hotels Could Be More Kid Friendly

There's some hotels that don't need to get it. If you're a high end, major city, five star hotel that only wants to cater to rich couples with no kids, then you can stop reading right here (Although seriously, thanks for stopping by. I don't get a whole lot of readers from your demographic.). The hotels that I want to get it, are the ones that actively chase the family business. You spend a lot of money advertising your family packages, and I appreciate any deals you can put together for us, but when I arrive with my kids it always
Hey, she's not MY kid.
seems to baffle you. A couple of months ago we stayed in a hotel in Phoenix on a "Family Getaway" rate, and when dinner time came we asked at the front desk if someone could direct us to the nearest fast food franchise. Burger King, McDonalds, Wendys, any one would do. It was discussed among five employees, and the best anyone could do was suggest that there's probably a fast food place to the south. Now maybe Phoenix is the fittest city in the world, but somebody has to drive past a Jack in the Box on the way in to work right? Anyways, I'm here to be helpful (still not true, but I seem to make that claim a lot) so in exchange for me not letting my kids tear around your hotel on luggage carts, here's five things I'd appreciate you considering that would make my life easier.

#5) Get Rid of the One Device per Internet Fee Rule
I'm not going to get in to the whole "Should hotels charge for internet" discussion, as I assume that's something they figure out the profit margin on and make their own decision. What drives me nuts is when I'm willing to pay the charge for the internet, but you'll only let me connect one device. Do you know what causes more fights in our family when traveling than anything else? Having to wait for a turn on the internet. Well...that and when they look at each other in the car, but mainly the internet thing. I'm pretty sure nobody has just one device that needs to have internet access these days, so allowing only one connection has to be pissing off everyone, including the solo business traveler with no kids. If you have to, put a password on it, so when I pay for the wi-fi, I can use the password to sign in all my devices. I promise not to share the password with the room next door. Unless I can't sleep because their kids are fighting over whose turn it is on the internet.

#4) Have a Kid Friendly Pool
This isn't intended for the $59 a night, budget family hotel. If you guys have a pool, great. At that price that's about as much as can be expected. Same goes for the skyscraper type of hotels that are in the middle of a city. I'm looking at hotels that bill themselves as resorts, then put a four foot deep rectangle on the outskirts of their property. Build a waterslide, throw up a basketball hoop, and host some movies by the pool at night.   A nice hot tub so I don't have to to freeze while watching my kids would be nice too (They're Canadian. If the pool isn't iced over, they want to go swimming.).

#3) The Disney Channel
Here's one that should just be universal. What does it cost to add a channel to your hotel lineup on a monthly basis? It can't be that much, and believe me, if I'm choosing between two relatively equal hotels, I'm going to take the one with Disney channel every time. Even the five star business hotels should have this channel (Rats..I told them to stop reading.) as once in a while I've been known to be sitting in a hotel room on a solo trip and think to myself "I wonder what Phineas and Ferb are going to do today?"

#2) The Motion Sensored Mini-Bar
These things are deadly to parents. It used to be bad enough before, when the train of thought behind mini-bars was "Lets fill a fridge with candy, put it down low where the kids are sure to see it, then let the parents deal with it". Now, with the new motion sensors, if you even knock something over you've only got 15 seconds to get it back upright before you get billed. It adds a whole new sense of terror when you see your 5 year old grab the $35 intimacy kit off the sensor and take off across the room, giving you no chance of getting it replaced in time. That's always a fun argument to have with the check-out desk.

#1) Connecting Rooms
I understand the other side to this one, as it kind of sucks to get a connecting room when somebody else is in the other half. When you're a family of more than four though, connecting rooms are almost a necessity. Yes, we can move things around and make room for five of us to sleep in a single hotel room, but it's a whole lot quieter when we can spread out. It's also nice to be able to give the kids their own room, and for Mom and Dad to have their own space to retire to at the end of the night. Besides, we've already been billed  for that intimacy kit. No point letting it go to waste.

When we can't get connecting rooms, we have to improvise.