Our Family Stay at Disney’s Grand Floridian

Our Family Stay at Disney's Grand Floridian pin

When visiting Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, families have many options for lodgings. For the most elaborate and luxurious  experience, we suggest staying at The Grand Floridian. This elegant resort is surprisingly family friendly, with plenty of activities for kids and parents alike to enjoy.

Our Family Stay at Disney's Grand Floridian lobby

What Makes it Family Worthy?

This hotel is opulent with all sorts of amenities. It is also close to the Magic Kingdom. Guests can enjoy free WiFi in both the rooms and public areas as well as free parking.

Our Family Stay at Disney's Grand Floridian playground

Our Welcome

When we arrived, the staff was friendly and welcoming. We experienced practically no wait before we got to our rooms but spent the time enjoying the meet and greet with Cinderella in the lobby.

Our Family Stay at Disney's Grand Floridian ceiling

Hotel Decor

The hotel’s lobby is a sight to behold, decorated with a Victorian aesthetic. Guests walking in will see a ceiling five stories high with huge chandeliers. Throughout the hotel, one can see detailed latticework and ornamentation. The lobby is a lovely spot to relax while waiting to check in or after returning from the parks.

Our Family Stay at Disney's Grand Floridian white

Our Room

We stayed in room 9409 in a Garden view room. The first thing we noticed was the locking mechanisms for our door. Everyone gets a magic band as their door “key,” and guests can even customize this band with their favorite color. The bolt mechanism on the door is pretty high up, which is great for child safety.

Our room was decorated in rich creams, golds, and greens, with lovely crown molding. We had wood flooring, perfect for those who suffer from allergies. The entire room was also extremely well maintained. We saw no scuff marks, dirt on the carpet, or peeling on the walls.

Our Family Stay at Disney's Grand Floridian bed

The room featured a large two door closet with complimentary robes. The safety deposit box sat at a perfect level and could easily store a 15-inch laptop.

We appreciated the two queen sized beds, as not every Disney hotel has this. There was also an overhead fan, perfect for the hot, humid Florida days. We had a lovely nightstand between the beds as well as an opening desk next to the bed. Guests should look for one of Disney’s well-known Hidden Mickeys around the room,. We found several including one on the back of the desk chair!

Our Family Stay at Disney's Grand Floridian TV

Our room boasted a red sofa, a relaxing place to stay and lounge after a day in the park. We also had a TV with all the Disney movies. The TV displayed a daily schedule, which included a weather report. We found the mini cooler under the TV and a coffee maker next to the TV. The room featured plenty of hidden places to charge electronics, such as behind the coffee maker.

We loved the gorgeous setting out of our window. We requested a quiet room with “no view” but still got to see a lovely stretch of beach outside.Our room featured a big balcony. It struck us how squeaky clean it was with two white chairs and no bugs, impressive in Florida.
The door to the balcony had a high up double lock so little kids can’t unlock the door by themselves. The door itself was hard to open, another good safety feature.

Our Family Stay at Disney's Grand Floridian outside

 

Our Bathroom

Our bathroom featured tan marble tile throughout, with the hypoallergenic wood floor continuing into the room. We enjoyed the double sink, something that all families can appreciate, as well as the hair dryer and complimentary toiletries.

Our Family Stay at Disney's Grand Floridian sink

We had a tub with a showerhead as well as a clothesline. Unfortunately, the showerhead was not handheld, but the tub had a grab bar.Our biggest surprise was the laundry hamper. Not every hotel has one, but a basket is perfect for keeping dirty towels off the floor.

Dining

The Grand Floridian offers several choices for character dining, such as the Supercalifragilistic Breakfast on 1900 Park Fare. Parents can even book the Wonderland Tea Party where kids can chat with Alice.

Our Family Stay at Disney's Grand Floridian piano

 

Those looking for Mediterranean fusion can try Citricos. This restaurant does have a relaxed dress code; men can wear khakis, slacks, jeans, or dress shorts, and women can wear capri pants, skirts, dresses, jeans, or dress shorts. They do not allow tank tops, swimsuits, torn clothes, or t-shirts with offensive graphics. Parents can book their reservation online or over the phone, which we recommend.

Narcoossee’s features seafood dining on the waterfront. This restaurant boasts beautiful panoramic ocean views. Narcoossee’s has a slightly stricter dress code than Citricos, essentially business casual.

Our Family Stay at Disney's Grand Floridian cupcake

Victoria & Albert’s is the most high-end establishment at the Grand Floridian. Here, patrons dine on award-winning cuisine in a classically elegant environment. They have a strict dress code; men must wear dinner jackets, slacks, and shoes, and women must wear either a dress, dressy pant suit, or a skirt with a blouse. Guests must also book in advance to dine here.

More budget friendly options include the Grand Floridian Cafe, Garden Tea View Room, or Gasparilla Island Grill. At the Gasparilla Island Grill, our son particularly enjoyed their cupcakes and had to have one every night before bed.

Our Family Stay at Disney's Grand Floridian car

Those who can’t or don’t want to leave their rooms can enjoy the hotel’s 24-hour room service.

Amenities

The Grand Floridian boasts several pools. We particularly enjoyed the zero entry leisure pool with an 181-foot tall water slide, whirlpool spa, waterfall, and hammocks. One can get towels and lifejackets at The Captain’s Shipyard. Guests with disabilities can also arrange for pool lifts and other access options at the Front Desk.Our Family Stay at Disney's Grand Floridian night

Those wanting to get their feet wet can enjoy fishing, water cruises, and motorboat rentals. There’s also plenty of other outdoor fitness activities such as tennis, volleyball, and golf.

The Grand Floridian offers plenty of activities. Parents can sign kids up for such activities as Campfire Activities or Grand Adventures in Cooking. There is also Arcadia Games, featuring both classic and modern arcade games.

Our Family Stay at Disney's Grand Floridian grass

Cost

The Grand Floridian is pricey, with rooms starting at $570 a night. The Garden View rooms are typically the cheapest option.

Our Family Stay at Disney's Grand Floridian duck

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Though the balcony is secure, parents should still try not to avoid booking a balcony room when traveling with young kids.
  • Make sure all balcony doors, and windows are locked. The balcony doors have two high up locks for added security.
  • Parents need to bring a non-slip bathmat, as the hotel does not provide one.

 

Our Family Stay at the W Fort Lauderdale Hotel

Our Family Stay at the W Fort Lauderdale Hotel PIN
When our family went on the Harmony of the Seas inaugural cruise, we chose to spend the night before the cruise at the W Fort Lauderdale in Florida. Located on 401 North Fort Lauderdale Beach Boulevard, this hotel proved to be a great stay for our family despite the fact it typically caters to couples.

Our Family Stay at the W Fort Lauderdale Hotel building

 

What Makes it Family Worthy?

This wave-shaped luxury hotel boasts 430 rooms and sits on beachfront property overlooking the Atlantic. The hotel is an SPG property, so guests can both use and earn SPG points during their stay. The hotel is near several great recreational locations and activities, including the Museum of Discovery and Science, the Sawgrass Mills Mall, and the Fort Lauderdale Ghost Tour.As mentioned before, the hotel mainly caters to couples, and we mostly saw couples during our stay. However, families and other groups are certainly welcome at this hotel.
Our Family Stay at the W Fort Lauderdale Hotel elevator

Our Arrival

We requested our usual accommodations of feather free pillow for allergies and a quiet location for our son with autism. However, when we arrived at our room, we discovered the hotel had given us a couples room that was not at all appropriate for families. Our shower had a clear glass wall so that people in the room could see whoever was showering. While the hotel did give us a curtain, we found that the room was still not working for us, so the hotel thankfully moved us to a suite.

 

Our Family Stay at the W Fort Lauderdale Hotel couples

Hotel Decor

The Fort Lauderdale W prides itself on his whimsical, humorous touches. The W features dark decor, lots of velures, and metallics on white and black backgrounds. We appreciated the amazingly decorated elevators done in metal with pink-reddish light. The mat outside the elevator changes three times a day, so it says “good morning” “good afternoon” and “good evening” as appropriate.The wall behind the counter had a large stamped “W” symbol. There was plenty of dim lighting throughout the lobby, some of it cleverly hidden behind walls or in crevices.  The hotel is made up of two towers, one of which boasts residential properties, where we stayed.

Our Family Stay at the W Fort Lauderdale Hotel view

Our Room

The kitchen boasted an island with a pull-out sink faucet. We found the trash can stored underneath the sink, and next to the sink was a working dishwasher. Near the island was a dining table with several chairs where guests could sit together and have a meal.

Our Family Stay at the W Fort Lauderdale Hotel sofa

 

The closet by the door had a motion detector light and large safe. The safe in the closet sat at a convenient height on top of a set of drawers. We also saw another closet near the bathroom that guests could lock, an excellent additional security feature. We found a third closet in one of the bedrooms, which had shelving, a bathrobe, an ironing board, a luggage rack, and a chest of drawers. Something we noticed about the closets was that they were all painted black, which made the clothes stand out.

Our Family Stay at the W Fort Lauderdale Hotel breakfast

The living room was decorated with faux-marble white walls. The living room had a nice offwhite L-shaped sofa with an attractive coffee table. Over the couch, we saw a black and white blanket. The living room had a third TV over another black chest of drawers.

 

Our Family Stay at the W Fort Lauderdale Hotel safe

Our suite had two bedrooms that looked incredibly similar. Both bedrooms had blue carpeting that simulated waves, with similarly decorated curtains. The rooms each had a chest of drawers in black wood, above which we could enjoy a 45 inch TV mounted on the wall. The wall behind the bed in each room was a bold silver taupe. The rooms both had king sized beds with nightstands and night lights on each side. Each nightstand featured an outlet and two USB ports. Finally, both rooms had a sitting area with a standing lamp and an unusually designed chair. The seat was wide, sleek black, and looked like a cross between a lounge and regular chair.

Our Family Stay at the W Fort Lauderdale Hotel ROOM

Perhaps the best feature of the room was the provided washing machine and dryer. In-room access to clothes washing machines is perfect for families, especially for extended stays.There was adjustable air conditioning in every single room, ideal for family members with temperature sensitivities.Our room had a balcony with spectacular views of the ocean. The room had two sliding doors, one in the living room and one in one of the bedrooms. Unfortunately, both sliding doors had only one easy -to-open lock, not the best to stop wandering kids.
Our Family Stay at the W Fort Lauderdale Hotel bed

Overall, the decor of the room was a pleasant blend of metallic colors and neutrals, with the bright blue kitchen standing out in the room. The room felt like an upscale two bedroom apartment.
Our Family Stay at the W Fort Lauderdale Hotel lock

 

Our Bathrooms

Our suite featured two bathrooms, one next to each bedroom. A sliding door without a lock led into the first bathroom. The flooring of the entire bathroom was a tile that simulated wood in tan colors. The decor consisted of white walls with a cherry wood vanity. The sink was a Corian material and had toiletries, tissues, and a magnifying mirror. Our amenity kit was from Bliss, a sample of the hotel’s onsite Spa supplies.
Our Family Stay at the W Fort Lauderdale Hotel bliss

The toilet was in a separate room with a door for privacy. The shower area boasted a cherrywood shelf. Unfortunately, we didn’t see a handheld showerhead or grab bar, which can be an issue for some families. However, the shower did have an overhead light. Also, while most of the shower was tile like the rest of the bathroom, the flooring by the shower drain was made of small stones.

 

Our Family Stay at the W Fort Lauderdale Hotel sink

The second bathroom was next to the master bedroom. This bathroom was not separated from the bedroom by a wall or door. The first thing we saw was the large jacuzzi tub. As we went into the bathroom, we saw the sink with more bliss products ad toiletries.The area also had light up mirror and a mini magnifying mirror.Similar to the other bathroom, the tiles in this room were neutral and light tan. The shower of this bathroom had the same setup as the first but with stone tiling and an area to sit.

Our Family Stay at the W Fort Lauderdale Hotel tub

 

Amenities

Travelers who want to take full advantage of the W Fort Lauderdale’s beachside location could sign up for the hotel’s Beach Boot Camp and Seaside Yoga. There, depending on the day guests could take complimentary classes involving different types of yoga and cardio exercises.A fitness center featuring state of the art pilates, treadmills, free weights, and balance balls was available to patrons. Most of the gym equipment also had iPod docking stations.The hotel also featured the Bliss Spa, where guests could get things like massages, manicures and pedicures. The Bliss Spa also has a “legendary” brownie buffet for guests to try.
Our Family Stay at the W Fort Lauderdale Hotel gym

 

As well as the beach, guests can also swim at the hotel’s outdoor infinity edge pool WET West on the fifth floor. Travelers can relax on one of the many loungers surrounding the pool, shaded by several umbrellas. The hotel also has a relaxing hot tub near a gas powered fire pit.
Our Family Stay at the W Fort Lauderdale Hotel pool

Not only was the hotel pet-friendly, but it also offered guests an exclusive Pet Suite. Those staying in the Pet Suite could expect to see in the room several “Tinkle Turf” pads, a plush dog bed, food and water bowls, fancy dog snacks, pick up bags, and a special dog menu. The hotel also provided a special limited edition dog bandana. Sadly, the property has no accommodations for cat owners.
Our Family Stay at the W Fort Lauderdale Hotel cabanas

 

Dining

The hotel had several on-site dining options. Diners looking for fancy dining could try Steak 954. The restaurant featured different delicious steaks from chef Stephen Starr that customers could eat while enjoying beautiful oceanside views. Unique to this venue was the restaurant’s jellyfish aquarium, which extended 15-feet behind several sitting areas and was lit up with bright blue and green lights.
Our Family Stay at the W Fort Lauderdale Hotel pool dining

Swimmers at the hotel’s WET West could stop for a bite to eat at the Wet Bar. Along with cocktails, guests could get salads, wraps, and burgers. The bar also offered several smoothies and shakes.

The W Cafe was the perfect place for grabbing a quick bite to eat or coffee. Hungry guests could enjoy everything from yogurt parfaits to teas. The W Cafe also advertised themselves as dedicated to health food.
Our Family Stay at the W Fort Lauderdale Hotel steak 24

 

Cost

Pricing starts at $200 a night and includes access to the mentioned amenities as well as the free high-speed internet for SPG members. Non-SPG members must pay $14.95 per day for internet access.
Our Family Stay at the W Fort Lauderdale Hotel brch

 

The hotel site recommends that guests take an Uber, taxi, or shuttle from the Fort Lauderdale airport to get to the hotel. However, those traveling in their car can use the on-site valet parking for $36 per day.

 

Autism Travel Tips

  • The hotel is a dog-friendly property and allows those staying to bring along pets as well as service animals. Families dealing with allergies should request a hypoallergenic room.
  • While our room did not have a grab bar, other rooms in the hotel do have these as well as other accessibility features. Families should request these features when booking.
  • Families staying in the couple oriented rooms should request a curtain for the “peeping” shower so as to give everyone more privacy.
  • Parents need to bring a non-slip bathmat, as the hotel does not provide one.

 

Family Stay at the DoubleTree Los Angeles

Family Stay at the DoubleTree Los Angeles pin

For travelers around the world, Los Angeles is synonymous with Glamour, glitz, and the high life. Though the city is quite spread out, it is one of the more central places downtown area that is close to the major freeways providing quick and easy accessibility for visitors. For families looking for an affordable and convenient stay in the downtown area, the DoubleTree by Hilton in Los Angeles is a good choice, home to 434 suites and rooms. The hotel can be found at 120 South Los Angeles Street in Los Angeles, California.

Family Stay at the DoubleTree Los Angeles building

What Makes it Family Worthy?

Located off the 110, 101 and 5 California freeways, the DoubleTree Hotel is less than a mile from the Los Angeles major attractions. Families will appreciate the hotel’s central location near Little Tokyo, the perfect local place to introduce kids to Japanese food and culture. The hotel is also not far from the rail station, the Broad Museum, Olvera Street, and the L.A. Food Mart. Parents, especially those with two or more kids, will appreciate the hotel’s spacious rooms and the proximity to entertainment venues like L.A Live and Pershing Square.

Family Stay at the DoubleTree Los Angeles lobby

The DoubleTree Los Angeles caters mostly to business people,families will feel welcome too.

 

Our Welcome

We decided to book this hotel  this past May for a night before our son’s college graduation from the University of Southern California  which was a short minute drive away.As usual we called the property ahead to ask them for a quiet room with feather free bedding due to our son’s autism.When we arrived, we had to wait in a long line since it was almost 3 PM which was check-in time. Once we finally got to the counter, we were unhappy to hear that our room, with the requested feather free and quiet accommodations, was not ready. It did take several hours and a front desk manager to sort the snafu out.On the upside, our son with autism enjoyed several helpings of the famous warm chocolate chip cookies.

Family Stay at the DoubleTree Los Angeles cookie

 

Hotel Decor

The decor of this particular Double Tree hotel was simple and elegant. All Asian styled furnishings, wall hangings, and artifacts were done in hues of browns, blacks, and tans.We liked the fact there were not only plenty of comfortable seating areas but also a place to watch TV while waiting. Overall the feel of the hotel was inviting and well lit, giving guests a pleasurable welcome when they checked- into the hotel.

Family Stay at the DoubleTree Los Angeles carpet

Our Room

We stayed in a standard room 1601 on the 16th floor of the high rise hotel.
The first thing we saw after we closed the door  was the Emergency sign. This sign was great because it informed us of where exactly where to go in the event of an evacuation. There was also a double lock on the door, ideal for parents traveling with ‘escape artists’  kids.

Family Stay at the DoubleTree Los Angeles bed

The carpeting in the room was brown with dark furniture to match. The wallpaper of the room was  done in a light cream color that contrasted nicely with the brown patterned wallpaper overlooking the bed.

Upon entering the room, we came across the closet with its shutter doors. While the closet itself was roomy, there wasn’t a light which was a bit of an issue for visibility. There was plenty of room to store our luggage and hang clothes as well as an iron with ironing board. There was even an in-room safe with enough room to fit a large laptop.

The television stand in the central area had a coffee maker as well as a 50″ flat screen TV. It also had six built-in drawers, so there was additional storage space for items like clothes and personal things. Housed underneath the television stand was a mini fridge. The refrigerator did not come with any free bottled water, but there were bottles available in the room guests could pay for.

Thankfully our room boasted two queen beds. Situated between the two queen beds was a nightstand that doubled as a desk. We had never seen this layout before in any hotel and thought it was an interesting way to save space. The nightstand/desk  had several outlets for charging devices as well as a relaxing sound machine and room phone.

We had a small sitting area by the window for reading and resting. The chair, unfortunately, didn’t open or recline in any way. The table beside the chair was perfect for magazines or books, and the lamp overhead provided enough light for reading without disturbing any other familymemberss.

Family Stay at the DoubleTree Los Angeles chair

Double curtains covered the window overlooking the Los Angeles high-rises. The window could only open slightly, which was perfect for those wanting fresh air to circulate the room while ensuring the safety of younger family members. The   room had central A/C  with an adjustable thermostat and its vent was placed overhead so it  didn’t blow on any of the beds, which we greatly appreciated.

Our Bathroom

The door to the bathroom was across from the closet. The first thing we noticed when stepping into the bathroom was that the ceiling was  rather low, which was a little odd. The room was rather small, yet functional and convenient.

Family Stay at the DoubleTree Los Angeles bathroom

The vanity had a speckled marble countertop and boasted an amenity kit that included soap, shampoo, and conditioner. Meanwhile, the storage spaces below the countertop held several towels. The commode was a basic model with a push button flush on top.

The shower pleasantly surprised us. Not only did it have a grab bar, which we always like to see, but it also had a no-slip mat which is rare these days. The shower head was, unfortunately,n ot a handheld  model which might present a problem for those traveling with small children.

Family Stay at the DoubleTree Los Angeles towel

Amenities

The DoubleTree brand often has some quality amenities to offer for guests, and the Los Angeles location was no different.
Guests seeking total relaxation could try out the complimentary yoga classes held on the beautiful rooftop Kyoto Gardens on Thursday mornings. Any other day, guests could go up to the roof just to enjoy the zen gardens at their own pace.For guests wanting to travel the nearby area without their own car, the hotel provided a complimentary shuttle that covered a three-mile radius.

Family Stay at the DoubleTree Los Angeles street

Travelers who love to exercise could use the 24-hour fitness center with all the essential exercise equipment like stairsteps, treadmills, and weights.Finally, visitors who forgot anything back at home, or who just wanted to find a fun souvenir, could go check out the hotel’s gift shop.

Family Stay at the DoubleTree Los Angeles garden

Dining

The hotel featured two restaurants on the property: the Justice Urban Tavern, and the Rendezvous Lounge.

The Justice Urban Tavern with its hip atmosphere  boasted delicious meals prepared by chefs Gerry Leskody and Gabe Colunga. Diners could get nice classic dishes like beef brisket, blue crab cake sandwiches, Irish oatmeal, or beer battered fish and chips. We enjoyed their happy hour Tuna Tartare Tacos along with thier unique avocado cocktails..

Family Stay at the DoubleTree Los Angeles

Travelers looking for snacks and cocktails could go to the Rendezvous Lounge in the hotel’s lobby. Here, diners sat in nice chairs watching sports on HDTVs, enjoying things like oysters, New England clam chowder, and grilled salmon.There was also a Starbucks at the hotel for those wanting their favorite cup of java or a quick breakfast sandwich.

Family Stay at the DoubleTree Los Angeles stair

Cost

Prices start at $199 per room. Internet access is $9.95 per day for basic, $11.95 per day for high speed. There is on-site parking for $35 self and $40 valet which sounds steep but is the norm for downtown L.A prices.

Family Stay at the DoubleTree Los Angeles sky

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Even when we requested a quiet room, we could still hear some noise from the nearby trains exiting Union Station. Families with noise sensitive children should take this into consideration.
  • When checking in, guests get warm chocolate chip cookies, which kids are sure to love. However, families with children who have diet restrictions such as gluten intolerance should be aware of this ahead of time so they can  avoid disappointment.
  • As mentioned above, the window in the room does not open all the way. This fact should give some peace of mind to parents who might worry about their child falling out of the window otherwise.

 

 

Family Friendly Stay at the Walt Disney World Dolphin Hotel

Family Friendly Stay at the Walt Disney World Dolphin Hotel pin

Walt Disney World in sunny Orlando, Florida is the place where anyone can be a kid. It is home to multiple parks and restaurants and is the best place to make lasting family memories. In addition to its theme parks, it is also home to some of the best resorts and hotels in the U.S. The Dolphin Resort is one of SPG’s family-friendly properties in Orlando. It is also the sister resort to the Swan where we stayed recently.

Family Friendly Stay at the Walt Disney World Dolphin Hotel dolphin

 

What Makes it Family Worthy?

The Dolphin boasts features for everyone in the family. The hotel; centrally located near Disney’s Epcot theme park is also close to several Disney hotels– the Boardwalk, Beach Hotel, and Yacht Club. Its location, plus the fact it shares a restaurant complex with the Swan, means families will find no shortage of food options while staying here.

The hotel also offers a more budget friendly yet luxurious option for families wishing to stay near the parks.Moreover, since The Dolphin is part of the SPG hotels, guests can use their points to stay.
The newly renovated Dolphin does feature connecting rooms so families of any size can stay there comfortably.However, unlike The Swan the property only offers rooms with two double beds or a king size bed. Fellow travelers, we met, were families and business people that came to attend conferences.

Family Friendly Stay at the Walt Disney World Dolphin Hotel pyramid

 

Our Welcome

Though we did contact the hotel initially to let them know we needed feather free quiet, the room was not ready by the time we arrived at 6 pm. In fact, it took a good extra hour for them to arrange the room and get it ready for us.Needless to say, the waiting made our son with autism quite anxious and antsy.

Family Friendly Stay at the Walt Disney World Dolphin Hotel light

Hotel Decor

The resort’s tropical vibe was enhanced by the plethora of palm trees leading to the resort and inside the lobby . One could easily recognize the resort by the twin dolphin statues on the rooftop. The decor inside The Dolphin was similar to The Swan, with hues of soft yellows and browns along with tan tiling. The central area featured a fountain much like the one in The Swan, except that the centerpiece had dolphins holding a water spouting clamshell with their tails.

Family Friendly Stay at the Walt Disney World Dolphin Hotel water

Our Room

Our recently renovated standard room  17104, on the 17th floor, which we paid for with SPG points, was comfortable enough for a family of four. The room color palate was very similar to what we had experienced previously at The Swan. With its turquoise carpeting, textured grey-green walls, and Scandinavian-style furnishings the room looked modern and functional.

The closet, right by the entrance, had shutter doors and featured an ironing board, safe, and luggage rack. Across from the closet was the “bar” area with bottled waters and a coffee maker for guests to enjoy.

Our room had two double beds. Between the beds was a nightstand, on top of which stood a lamp with power outlets and a clock. The headboards were made of a silvery tan leatherette with a wood trim. Facing the beds was a 42 inch TV over a set of chest of drawers that housed a mini cooler. Family Friendly Stay at the Walt Disney World Dolphin Hotel bed

In the far corner of the room, we saw a glass table on wheels that could also be used as a desk. Directly across from it was a sitting chair with an attractive tan and wintergreen velour texture.

The windows had both thin and thick curtains. We didn’t have much of a view, as our requested quiet room faced a parking lot. We did appreciate that the hotel apparently covered some machinery just below us with a colorful orange and blue roof.

 

Our Bathroom

The bathroom, also recently renovated, was decorated with lots of soft greens, blues, and whites. Just like in The Swan, the backsplash behind the single sink was made of pale green and white glass mosaic tiles. In the bathtub area, the walls were a textured pearly white tile. We found the floor tile interesting, textured in an almost fabric looking tan and set in a subway pattern.

Family Friendly Stay at the Walt Disney World Dolphin Hotel towel

The bathroom’s  tub/shower combo had a grab bar, anti-slip textured flooring, and a clothesline to dry swimsuits. Unfortunately, this tub did not have a handheld showerhead.The provided amenity kit included the basic shampoo, body soap, and body lotion and housekeeping provided more than enough towels for our stay.

Amenities

As a resort close to Disney properties, The Dolphin had a lot to offer for families.
The property boasted five swimming pools, including two lap pools and a three-acre grotto pool complete with a sandy beach front and a waterslide. There was also a spring pool for a more relaxing swim where guests could enjoy conversation in the water.Kids and kids at heart will also love the onsite playground and arcade room.

Family Friendly Stay at the Walt Disney World Dolphin Hotel door

The property also offers a state of the art health club with cardiovascular and strength equipment. There are also onsite tennis, volleyball, and basketball courts. Joggers could enjoy one of many jogging trails with varying levels of difficulty, including a run around the nearby Crescent Lake.
The resort provides a relaxing shuttle boat ride to Disney’s Epcot theme park for staying guests.

Dining

As sister properties, both The Dolphin and Swan shared an area featuring many different restaurants. Even the pickiest of eaters could find something in this place.

Family Friendly Stay at the Walt Disney World Dolphin Hotel bluezoo

There are several restaurants unique to the Dolphin property. Guests seeking fine dining can try out Shula’s Steak House or Todd English’s Bluezoo. At Bluezoo, we enjoyed Happy Hour drinks and loaded nachos. Those seeking budget friendly or casual dining can try out the Cabana Bar and Beach Club, the Fresh Mediterranean Market, or the Fountain. Picabu features quick, cafeteria style dining along with a sundries store. And finally, The Dolphin has 24-hour room service for those who couldn’t or didn’t want to leave their rooms.

Cost

The cost, which includes free Wi-Fi and access to the previously mentioned amenities, starts at around $350 a night. Both self and valet parking are available near the resort, for $18 a day self-parking and $26 a day valet parking.

Family Friendly Stay at the Walt Disney World Dolphin Hotel view

Autism Travel Tips:

  • The glass rolling table in the rooms can be hazardous for little kids as they can easily move it, break it and get injured.
  • The pools do have lifeguards for added security, although they only work specific hours. Families who consider this an important feature should check schedules ahead of time.
  • The dresser and the nightstand featured glass tops, which could also be potentially hazardous for kids.
  • Parents should bring an anti-slip mat and night light since the hotel does not supply them.

Family Friendly Stay at the Walt Disney World Swan Hotel

Family Friendly Stay at the Walt Disney World Swan Hotel pin

Walt Disney World is a magical place to bring families together. This year, when my family visited Walt Disney World, we decided to stay on a non-Disney property to see how it compared to staying at a Disney resort. Facing Crescent Lake, the Swan Hotel, with its 1509 rooms, is located at 1200 Epcot Resorts Boulevard in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. The resort is part of a duplex along with the Dolphin hotel. Together, the two hotels create the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort complex.

Family Friendly Stay at the Walt Disney World Swan Hotel swan

What Makes it Family Worthy?

For families looking for a resort offering a luxury stay for everyone, the SPG run Swan Resort is the way to go. Though not officially part of the Disney property, it is a boat ride away from Disney’s Epcot theme park. As the Swan is in a complex with the Dolphin, patrons have access to multiple restaurants within walking distance. The hotel is also close to three Disney hotels; the Boardwalk, Beach hotel, and Yacht Club. Each of these hotels has their restaurants for additional choices.

The property is much more budget friendly than the average Disney resort, and one can use SPG points to stay there. Even with the lower prices, families will find the hotel boasts larger rooms with two queen beds, something that not every hotel offers. Some of these large rooms also connect so more people can stay there comfortably in the same area.

Family Friendly Stay at the Walt Disney World Swan Hotel view

Fellow travelers range from business people attending conferences in the buildings to families wishing to try out a non-Disney, luxurious but slightly cheaper lodging option.

Our Welcome

Due to an unexpected snafu with our flight, we arrived at the hotel at one in the morning. This delay was unusual, and we were exhausted after flying from CA for six hours. The staff at check-in not only assisted us, but also upgraded us to a suite.

We had previously contacted the property to inform the staff that we needed certain accommodations, like feather free pillows and a quiet room. Therefore, they already knew about our needs, but it was a lovely added surprise that they upgraded us.

Family Friendly Stay at the Walt Disney World Swan Hotel bench

Hotel Decor

The lobby featured warm colors of yellows and browns highlighted with occasional touches of soft greens. The flooring alternates between flower patterned carpet to marble and natural stone. Guests walking out into the main lobby would see a large fountain with four white swans drizzling water out of their beaks. The area is well lit with lots of subdued lights with multiple tropical plants scattered around the lobby and public spaces.

Family Friendly Stay at the Walt Disney World Swan Hotel hall

Our Room

When we arrived at our suite 731, we were delighted with how spacious and comfortable it was. Throughout the room, we saw large floor to ceiling windows. Out of these windows, guests could see the iconic Epcot dome, which was lit up bright blue at night. Both thin and thick curtain covered the 180-degree suite windows.

Much of the decor in the suite consisted of glass top countertops, dark wood furnishings, tan walls, and greenish-gray carpeting. The room featured decorative plants which are usually used in luxurious upscale suites.

Family Friendly Stay at the Walt Disney World Swan Hotel room

The suite had two large closets with shutter doors and ample hanging space, shelving, and place for our luggage. The closets housed an ironing board, bathrobes, slippers, and a blow dryer. We found the in-room safe in one of the closets, an important feature for families who want to store valuables they don’t want to take with them into the theme parks. We noted the bar area, which included a coffee maker.

The huge living room was divided into a seating area and a dining area. The seating area had a dark blue velour opening sofa perfect for our son with autism to sleep in comfortably while the dining area was comprised of a table with several yellow chairs. There was a large screen TV over a chest of drawers facing the opening sofa in the sitting area perfect for our son to watch his favorite TV channels.

Our bedroom, aka the parents’ bedroom, featured two beds in the room with a nightstand between them. On the nightstand was a standing lamp with additional outlets, an alarm clock, and a soothing sound machine. The mini sitting area consisted of an armchair and a glass table that could either be a regular table or a desk. Across from the two beds was a rather large dresser on top of a flat-screen TV and a coffee machine along with another standing lamp. The dresser had many drawers and also housed a mini cooler.

Family Friendly Stay at the Walt Disney World Swan Hotel blue

The door between the main bedroom and the rest of the suite could be locked from both sides, a fantastic privacy feature.We particularly loved the ample seating and the fact there were two TVs in the room. We regretted getting to stay only for one night and  not being able to fully enjoy the suite.

Our Bathroom

Our suite boasted two bathrooms which turned out to be a very convenient feature for our family stay. Though both bathrooms were similar in size, they differed in decor. The first bathroom, just off the living room area, had tan tiles and marble flooring. There was a brown countertop with plenty of towels for all of us staying to use.

Family Friendly Stay at the Walt Disney World Swan Hotel sink

The second bathroom, right off the entrance hallway, featured modern decor with a glass mosaic green backsplash along with a wooden vanity with Corian countertop and sink.

Both bathrooms featured combination tubs/showers with grab bars, but the one in the first bathroom had a curtain while the second had a glass enclosure. We appreciated that both had a hand held shower head and a separate rain shower head.

Family Friendly Stay at the Walt Disney World Swan Hotel tub

Amenities

In addition to boasting terrific views and a luxurious decor, the Swan Resort had excellent family-friendly recreational offerings. Guests who love swimming could try out one of five different swimming pools. Two of these pools were lap pools, perfect for those who enjoy exercising. The most popular and featured pool was the three-acre grotto pool with a beautiful waterfall and rock caves. There was also a “kiddie” pool on site for younger kids to enjoy the water safely.

Guests who love swimming could try out one of five different swimming pools. Two of these pools were lap pools, perfect for those who enjoy exercising. The most popular and featured pool was the three-acre grotto pool with a beautiful waterfall and rock caves. There was also a “kiddie” pool on site for younger kids to enjoy the water safely.

Family Friendly Stay at the Walt Disney World Swan Hotel outside

Travelers looking for relaxation should try out the Mandara Spa. The Spa features a large selection of leisure options, including body wraps, facials, mani/pedis, and deep tissue massages. Guests could also enjoy sitting or sampling soothing tea in the Meditation Garden themed after a Meru Temple.

For those who want to keep in shape on their vacation, the Swan Hotel had a lot to offer. Guests could indulge in the Swan Health Club for access to workout machines like treadmills, stair climbers, and stationary bikes. Those staying could also participate in different sports like tennis, volleyball, basketball, and mini golf, all without having to leave the property. Finally, the hotel offered guests access to jogging trails. One of these trails takes runners around Crescent Lake and through five other hotels in the Epcot area.

Family Friendly Stay at the Walt Disney World Swan Hotel swan

Dining

Both the Dolphin and the Swan share a common area where they have several restaurants. There’s something for just about anyone in this joint area.

Regarding restaurants unique to the Swan, we had many options. For fine dining, visitors could go to Kimonos for Japanese sushi or Il Mulino for Italian cooking. Casual, more budget-friendly dining options included the Garden Grove, featuring Disney Character Dining in a beautiful garden setting, or Splash Terrace, where one could get grass fed burgers or ice cream right next to one of the Swan’s lap pools. Families looking for fast service could stop by the Java Bar to get a quick coffee or pastry. Of course, for those who couldn’t or didn’t want to leave their rooms, the hotel provided 24-hour room service.

Family Friendly Stay at the Walt Disney World Swan Hotel food

We ultimately decided to try Todd English’s Bluezoo, a restaurant technically on Dolphin property. We enjoyed their Happy Hour where we got to try their nachos, loaded with guacamole, beef, cheese, and sour cream.

For those wanting something different, one can access the three Disney resorts via a free short boat ride or a five-minute walk. Guests can also take the boat straight to Disney Springs for even more options.

Family Friendly Stay at the Walt Disney World Dolphin Hotel bluezoo

Cost

The price for a one night stay starts around $300 and includes free Wi-Fi. The hotel offers plenty of package deals, especially in conjunction with Disney parks. One can find self-parking near the entrance to the park costing $18 per day. Guests can also utilize valet parking for $26 per day.

Family Friendly Stay at the Walt Disney World Swan Hotel sky

Autism Travel Tips:

  • The suites feature lots of glass standing lamps, which can be hazardous to kids if they get knocked over.
  • We saw lots of living plants throughout the hotel, including in the rooms. Parents of children with Pica might want to request a plant-free room.
  • The mini suite had quite a few vases and other breakable artifacts. These might be a problem for rambunctious kids with autism. Parents can request the removal of such items while booking.
  • There wasn’t a no-grip mat in the shower. However, guests can easily bring one from home to further assist those who need it.
  • Bring a nightlight as the suite is a really a big space and can be difficult to navigate in the dark.
  • The dresser and the nightstand featured glass tops, which could be hazardous for kids.

 

Family Fun at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort

Family Fun at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort pin
In the early sixteenth century, a Spanish explorer came to the American South West looking for rumored cities of gold.  He might not have found the aforementioned treasure, but as part of the yearly Traveling Mom conference in Walt Disney World, we had an excellent stay at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort named for that explorer, Francisco Coronado.

Family Fun at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort entrance

What Makes it Family Worthy?

This family-friendly, budget-friendly 1,915-roomed hotel was lovely and quiet with a rustic feel away from the heavy traffic and noise. The breathtaking view of the beautiful human-made lake that surrounded the hotel buildings contributed to the feeling of being on holiday!

Family Fun at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort casita

Our Welcome

When we arrived, we liked the fact there were many check-in counters all staffed to check in families, so there was no waiting in lines. The hotel provided a separate little area for children to watch cartoons while their parents saw to the paperwork. There was free wifi available in the public areas which also came in handy when traveling with antsy kids.
Family Fun at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort fountain

Hotel Decor

The décor was an American Southwest theme and touches throughout the resort included impressive wooden carvings, furnishings, and doorways. Disney’s Mickey, in little icon form, was there to be found in all sorts of fun and quirky places like the carpeting, in the furniture and even on the handles of the room doors.
Family Fun at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort check in

Our Room

Though we traveled as a small party, if we had come with a larger group, we could have done so comfortably. The room we stayed in had a doorway to an adjoining room making it readily available for larger families.

Family Fun at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort palm tree

Upon entering the room, the first thing we noticed was the beautiful carvings in the wooden headboards. The dominant Southwestern theme was apparent with features such as lamp fixtures, motifs on the brown and turquoise bedding, the brown flooring, and the turquoise wallpaper. The two comfortable queen-sized beds also featured upholstery in the typical terracotta coloring.

Family Fun at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort room

Additional features of the room included a deep-shelved chest of drawers, a ceiling fan in addition to the air conditioning, and a coffee maker with pods and a two cup dispenser. Unusually, the closet was not in the actual room. It was instead next to the sink in the bathroom. This placement was rather handy because it meant we didn’t have to go looking for our clothing outside of the bathroom when getting dressed. The room ‘s closet was not a traditional one featuring doors. It was instead open and doorless with a shelf on top and still had plenty of room on the floor for all our luggage as well as plenty of hangers for all of our clothing.
Family Fun at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort lake

We liked the pocket doors closing off the bath area for privacy when needed as well as the adequate supply of power outlets. We found one behind the nightstand which had a splitter for six devices. This fact was exceptionally handy after coming back from a long day at the park when guests have cameras and other devices per person that need recharging.
Family Fun at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort sink

Our son with autism spent hours searching for the hidden Mickey’s throughout the room. There were some on the throw pillow, on the duvet cover and in the wallpaper, just to name a few.

Family Fun at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort amenity

Our Bathroom

The bathroom was very compact but functional. We would have liked to have seen a shower glass enclosure for the shower or a handheld shower head attachment. However, we appreciated the grab bar in the shower as well as a retractable washing line for hanging up swimming suits. The resort provided an adequate amount of towels, and there was a standard set of toiletries on the bathroom sink counter top.

Family Fun at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort tub

Dining

The décor of the Pepper Market continued the resort’s SW theme with a fun giant bird pillar statue in the middle of the area. The locale was perfect for parents traveling with children or picky eaters as it was self-serve and fast. In addition to having a wide variety of options including Mexican, barbecue, Chef’s specials, macaroni, and dessert bar choices, take away meals could be brought back to the room.

Family Fun at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort bird

However, the Coronado Springs Resort had two other places worth mentioning for dining and liquid refreshments. Adult guests wanting to get a drink while spending a day in the Parks could relax at the Rex Lounge. Meanwhile, those interested in sit-down meals could enjoy one at the Maya Restaurant.

Family Fun at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort bar

During our stay, we did check out the Maya Grill for dinner. We tried some of their appetizers along with their great delicious margarita flight sampler while listening to their mariachi band.

Family Fun at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort drinks

Amenities

Like all other Disney properties in Walt Disney World, this one too had various amenities to help guests the most of their stay. For example, there was the La ViClub that combined a workout gym with a spa.
There were also four pools at the resort; one for the younger kids and the others for older kids and adults.The largest of the four pools was located at The Dig Site and boasted a pyramid-like structure that housed a 128-foot tall waterslide.In addition to the pool activities the Dig area also had an arcade for teens to enjoy and a playground for kids to run around in.

Family Fun at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort gym

 

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Disney accommodates travelers with allergies. Be to ask during the reservation for any accommodations you or your family need.
  • We stayed in Casita Number Four which was quite a walk from the lobby and restaurants. Parents with kids who have trouble walking around or tire quickly should book a room close to the lobby.
  • Parents should know the resort has two lakes surrounding it and that the casitas have long open corridors. These can both be unsafe for kids that wander off.
  • Parents need to pack an anti-slip bath mat, as the hotel does not offer one.
  • Be sure to pack a night light since the room might become hard to navigate at night in complete darkness.

 

 

 

Family Stay at Embassy Suites Anaheim South Hotel

pin embassy suites anaheim south

Disneyland is possibly one of the most recognized and popular destinations for traveling families worldwide.It is, therefore, no surprise that there are over 160 hotels in the immediate area from which to choose. When our family visited the park this year, we chose to stay at the Embassy Suites Anaheim – South by Hilton in Garden Grove, a nearby town to Anaheim. The hotel, approximately one mile away from Disney’s California Adventure park, provides a good option for families that wish to visit the four area parks without paying an exorbitant price for lodging.

Family Stay at Embassy Suites Anaheim South Hotel sofa

What Makes it Family Worthy?

As mentioned before, the hotel location is convenient. It is just a short drive from Disneyland, the Los Angeles Angels Baseball Stadium, Knotts Berry Farm and Medieval Times. The property’s large suites with a two room layout can comfortably accommodate larger families. Furthermore, as a participant in Disneyland’s ‘Good Neighbor’ program, it offers a complimentary hot breakfast and a Happy Hour reception as well as free parking.

Fellow Travelers

Though Families visiting the local theme parks make up the vast majority of guests at this establishment, we also met several business people attending conferences at the local convention center.

Family Stay at Embassy Suites Anaheim South Hotel bar

Hotel Decor

The fourteen story modern looking orange building featured a central atrium with its rooms radiating outwards from it. The atrium housed the restaurant and bar as well as a small decorative pond, complete with a  fountain and swimming fish. The lobby and corridors were somewhat old fashioned; decorated in a  neutral color palette of  tans, browns, and blacks.

Family Stay at Embassy Suites Anaheim South Hotel beds

Our Room

Our suite was a generous size. We had two queen-sized beds in the main bedroom. The living room boasted an opening sofa so space could comfortably accommodate a family of six.

The living area had wall to wall carpeting in hues of tan and brown with medium and dark wood furniture consisting of a leather sofa and armchairs along with a coffee table. Though somewhat necessary it was functional with ample light, a phone, and a 40 inch TV. Across from the sofa the room had a dining table for families to dine at if they wanted to bring takeaway food back to the room. Furthermore, There was a kitchenette area with a sink, microwave and small cooler in the hallway between the living and bedroom.
Family Stay at Embassy Suites Anaheim South Hotel bathroom

 

The main bedroom featured the two queen beds as well as a small desk and a chest of drawers. There was ample closet space in the form of a standing wardrobe equipped with the standard iron and ironing board.
We were delighted to discover multiple power outlets in both rooms. The room had enough outlets for the whole family to charge their devices at the same time.

Our Bathroom

The moderately sized bathroom was well lit. The vanity countertop, with its speckled orange and gray granite, had plenty of space for cosmetics on either side. The bathroom featured a shower/tub combination along with an additional shelf area for toiletries. We were slightly surprised to see there was no place to hang damp swim suits and that there was no handheld shower head attachment.

Family Stay at Embassy Suites Anaheim South Hotel amenity

Dining

We had breakfast at the hotel’s dining room, the Serengeti Restaurant.  The typical  American breakfast buffet was delicious and hearty with plenty of pancakes, sausages, eggs, and bacon. Also, the buffet had an omelet station for guests wishing to customize their egg dish.

The Happy Hour or Manager’s Reception was available every evening during the week days. They served a few snacks and drinks, including cocktails and other alcoholic drinks and soft drinks.
Family Stay at Embassy Suites Anaheim South Hotel restaurant

Amenities

Families will be pleased to know that this site offers a daily shuttle directly to the Disneyland Resort for a nominal fee. We chose to enjoy the property’s convenient free parking and ‘uber’ to the park for under five dollars a ride.

The hotel had an indoor pool and whirlpool jacuzzi,  perfect for swimming all year round. There was also a gym for guests who wish to stay fit.

Family Stay at Embassy Suites Anaheim South Hotel snacks

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Parents should be advised that the hallways overlooking the central atrium are open and give the impression of not being very safe and secure. We would recommend that parents of special needs children request a room on the ground or first floor as any higher up can be potentially dangerous.
  • Do pack a non-slip mat for the bathroom since the hotel does not provide one.
  • For light sensitive children, parents will be glad to know that there are both thick and thin curtains in the room that block the light effectively.
  •  Temperature sensitive kids will like the a/c panel in the room that allows guests to adjust the room temperature to their personal needs.
  • Parents of noise sensitive children should ask for a room furthest from the central atrium where it is most noisy.

 

Mall of America Radisson Blu Welcomes Families

Mall of America Radisson Blu Welcomes Families pin

 

Any family looking for unique locations around the United States should stop by the Mall of America in Minneapolis. For those looking for a place to stay while touring this famous Mall, the Radisson Blu Hotel is a great option featuring innovative design. Travelers will find this hotel, boasting 500 rooms, on 2100 Killebrew Drive in Bloomington, Minnesota.

Mall of America Radisson Blu's Welcome to Families lobby

 

What Makes it Family Worthy?

The hotel was not only a short drive away from the nearby airport, but close to the light rail station. Families will enjoy its proximity to the world-famous Mall of America with all its attractions including the Nickelodeon theme park.

Mall of America Radisson Blu Welcomes Families street

Fellow Travelers

Families and business people make up the largest percentage of those staying here, but there are also plenty of couples that select this hotel as their accommodation of choice.

Decor

This particular Radisson Blu had a sleek, modern appearance that we found attractive. We noted various shades of blues, reds, and blacks commonly used as accent colors throughout the hotel. These hues provided a refreshing contrast to the more traditional neutral colors that one would expect to find in a top hotel.

Mall of America Radisson Blu's Welcome to Families

 

Something our family, particularly our son with autism, loved and wanted to take home were the hanging cocoon-like seats in the lobby. These comfortable wicker style seats “suspended” from the ceiling were very inviting and kids often lined up to get to sit in them.

Mall of America Radisson Blu's Welcome to Families seat

Our Room

We stayed in room 1234, a number we found easy to remember. Our suite had bright orange and red accent pieces as well as framed artwork and a white carpet that was patterned with dark squares. The room’s other furnishings included black metal and lightly colored wood. Meanwhile, our personal bathroom area was decorated primarily in white with silver gleaming fixtures along dark wooden accents.

We noted the two sizable closets located near the entry door, the perfect place to store our various belongings. These spaces contained an ironing board, iron, robes, slippers, and wooden hangers for travelers to use. There were also plenty of pull-out shelving units in the closet, which proved to be quite beneficial in helping us keep everything organized. We likewise saw a full sized mirror included near the entryway that helped us quickly check our outfits before departing the room.

Mall of America Radisson Blu's Welcome to Families bed

Upon entering the main area of the room, there was a small area that contained a safe, coffee percolator and a mini fridge. It made for a good stopping point to sip hot drinks before departing for the day’s events.

Our incredibly comfortable beds faced a 40-inch flat screen TV. There were also four nightlights provided, one for each side of the double occupancy beds. Meanwhile, the desk and sitting areas contained the usual accouterments such as a chair, and a lamp. The room had several outlets so that travelers would have no trouble charging their electronic devices. A comfortable chair and an accompanying small table rounded out the furnishings of the room.

Mall of America Radisson Blu Welcomes Families room

A feature that we would have loved to have copied for our own home was the luggage rack tucked under the TV that guests could pull out when necessary. This rack was yet another example of the intelligent design the hotel designers had thought of!

Our Bathroom

The bathroom contained relatively standard features that included a commode and combination bath/shower with a rain shower head. The standard bath products were provided along with extras such as mouthwash, lotion, and a vanity kit. We also saw two racks, both filled with fluffy towels.

Mall of America Radisson Blu's Welcome to Families kit

Dining

Guests seeking fine dining later in the day could head over to Firelake Grill House where they could dine on farm-to-table Midwestern meals created by Chef Jim Kyndberg.  We had a delectable dinner and enjoyed watching the cooks prepare the dinner in the open kitchen area.

Mall of America Radisson Blu Welcomes Families chicken

Executive Lounge

The hotel graciously upgraded us to the Executive Lounge which we found a calming space to relax after a day of touring. The lounge offered a filling breakfast with the typical American fare. This breakfast included eggs, sausages, and pancakes, along with cut up fruit and oatmeal. For the Happy Hour, the lounge offered a choice of local wines and sodas along with a selection of cheeses and dips. Two hot appetizers completed the evening selection.

Amenities

Guests could only access the floor that their room was on, as they had to swipe their room key in the elevator slot. We saw this as an excellent security feature.
Active travelers would be delighted to know that the hotel featured an Olympic sized indoor pool along with a well-stocked gym open all day every day.

Mall of America Radisson Blu Welcomes Families pool

Complimentary parking was available at this hotel. However, the property also offered a free airport shuttle service for those who needed it.
Of course, all the rooms at the Radisson Blu featured complimentary Wi-Fi, a much-appreciated amenity.
Families with picky eaters could venture via a connecting corridor to the nearby mall and dine in the plethora of restaurants and food venues available.

Mall of America Radisson Blu Welcomes Families dining

 

Autism Travel Tips:

  • There is a safety handle in the tub area. This handle makes it easy for those with mobility issues to enter and exit the bath.
  • No bath mat was provided in the bathrooms, so travelers will need to bring their own along with them.
  • Kids interested in culinary arts would most likely have a keen interest in watching their dinner being cooked in Firelake Grill House.
  • We thought that the option to order food from the Firelake Grill House via room service for guests that didn’t want to deal with the noises or crowds was an excellent idea.

 

Disclosure: We were accommodated by the Radisson Blu Mall of America for the purpose of providing this review. However, our views are and always will be our own and cannot be influenced in any way.

Weekend Stay at the Marriott Manhattan Beach

Weekend Stay at the Marriott Manhattan Beach pin

Just southwest of the  Los Angeles lies the coastal town of Manhattan Beach. The posh city bordering the Pacific Ocean is famous as one of the three cities that make up LA’s South Bay. With its famous beach volleyball courts and surfing, it is the perfect place to take the family for a weekend in the sun. As we discovered during our latest visit the  Manhattan Beach Marriott Hotel is the ideal location for family friendly service and outdoor fun.

Family Stay at the Manhattan Beach Marriott sky

What Makes it Family Worthy?

The Marriott Manhattan Beach Hotel at 1400 Parkview Avenue in Manhattan Beach, California is a good choice for families looking for a reasonably priced hotel in the LA area. The property offers connecting rooms and is close to many famous beaches as well as the Manhattan Beach Golf course, Pier and the Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center. Moreover, the immediate area around the property offers guests numerous dining and entertainment options which makes it a good choice for most families.

Family Stay at the Manhattan Beach Marriott lamp

 

Our Welcome

The check-in was fast and efficient with excellent service. We had requested a king-sized bed and informed them of our feather allergies and the need for a quiet room due to our son’s autism. Though they had initially forgotten to accommodate these needs, upon our arrival housekeeping was prompt in replacing the bedding and pillows with hypoallergenic ones. The staff also brought the rollaway bed we had requested for our son.

Family Stay at the Manhattan Beach Marriott lobby

Hotel Decor

The hotel decor like many others in the chain was modern yet stylish. The public areas featured marble flooring and prominent sienna colored pillars. The lobby seating area boasted fresh colors of brown, yellow, orange and terracotta, drawn together by fairy lights in ornamental branches. As we walked in, we passed by the outdoor fountain which was pretty when it was lit up at night.

 

Family Stay at the Manhattan Beach Marriott chair

Our Room

The room reserved for us on the fifth floor, 522, was a classic, standard, no frills comfortable room. The room had dark green carpeting and light beige walls accompanied by medium brown furnishings. There was a big 42” flat-screen TV positioned so it could be viewed from both the king sized bed and the orange velour chair/ottoman combo in the sitting area. The two small nightstands along with the standing lamps, alarm clock, and phone completed the space making quite functional.

Family Stay at the Manhattan Beach Marriott bed

Across from the beds stood a large desk with a pull out shelf for extra working space. As we soon discovered, there were plenty of outlets in the room for guests to power up their electronic devices including an outlet splitter that was located on the desk itself. The closet had an ample hanging area for clothing along with shelves and ultra-deep drawers, so storage was not an issue. There was also an ironing board  and iron for guest convenience.

Our Bathroom

We had a clean, well laid out bathroom with marble flooring and a glass-enclosed shower, commode, and large counter top vanity. The hotel provided a small amenity kit with Thann products that we liked.

Family Stay at the Manhattan Beach Marriott kit

The shower had a standard, not handheld, shower head with decent water pressure. We liked that the bathroom had a place to hang towels and that housekeeping came to replenish towels once a day or more frequently if guests requested it.

Dining

The hotel offered several breakfast choices that varied in price with The Continental being the cheapest and most affordable at $15, a slightly more expensive Full American breakfast, and The Hot Breakfast and Buffet option which was the priciest at $25 per person. Families wishing to explore alternate options could check out the restaurants that were within walking distance, including Jackson’s, Brickworks, P.F Chang’s and Houston’s.

Family Stay at the Manhattan Beach Marriott sink

Amenities

The hotel featured a whirlpool and sauna as well as a heated outdoor pool which in a place like Southern California could be used year around.
The locale had a small fitness center with equipment like weights, elliptical machines, and cardiovascular equipment for guests who wished to exercise during their stay.
However, the venue’s highlight is its own nine-hole golf course. Managed by Marriott Golf it boasts the Executive par 3 course that is fun for all skill levels as well as a specialized program for juniors.

Family Stay at the Manhattan Beach Marriott tv

Autism Travel Tips:

  • For anyone who is temperature sensitive, there is guest-operated A/C control in the room.
  • Our room on the fifth floor had a sliding door to the balcony which could be a safety hazard for kids with autism who wander off.
  • We brought a non-slip mat with us for the shower as the hotel does not provide one.
  • The bathroom door has a lock so make sure your child does not get stuck in there on their own.
  • The hotel offers free bike rentals so make sure you pack your kids’ helmet.

 

Staying with Family at Hilton Fort Lauderdale Marina

Staying with Family at Hilton Fort Lauderdale Marina pin

Fort Lauderdale on Florida’s southeastern coast is famous for its beautiful beaches and wide canals that attract travelers who love outdoor activities. With its sprawling beachfront promenade lined with food and entertainment venues along with its international cruising port, it makes for a family -friendly destination. When staying in Fort Lauderdale, parents should consider the Hilton Fort Lauderdale Marina for comfort in a hotel worthy of the Hilton name.
Staying with Family at Hilton Fort Lauderdale Marina cloud

What Makes it Family Worthy?

This four-star hotel contains approximately 589 rooms and suites. Travelers will appreciate the location, near the Everglades cruising port, the Convention Center, and the Las Olas shopping area, at 1881 South East 17th Street. A large percentage of the hotel guests are traveling families and couples spending the night before or after the cruise. Moreover, due to the proximity to the Convention Center, this hotel also hosts business people and those attending conferences.

Staying with Family at Hilton Fort Lauderdale Marina ocean

Hotel Decor

The lobby featured lots of subdued yellows, oranges, and whites, with curved sofas and a large circular overhead lighting fixture that gave the area a modern, futuristic look. The lobby area, divided into several sections, was large, so guests could sit quietly or work as they waited to check in.

Staying with Family at Hilton Fort Lauderdale Marina white

Our Room

We stayed in room 1116 on the 11th floor, a floor reserved for the Hilton Loyalty Program guests. As usual, all the pertinent safety information was on the back of the door. The door also had two locks to help secure the room.

Our room, decorated in neutral colors of white and grays, had been newly renovated. The room featured carpetings with lines of brown, taupe, and turquoise along with dark brown furniture. Aside from some artwork on the walls, the décor was minimalistic.
Staying with Family at Hilton Fort Lauderdale Marina lobby

Since this property did not offer two queen sized beds, we settled for a room with two double beds. Each bed had a small power outlet next to it, so guests could recharge their phones while they slept. Between the beds was a nightstand with a phone, alarm clock, lamp, and shelves where guests could store more belongings.

Across from the beds, there was a desk with a swivel chair, lamp, phone, and full-length mirror. We were happy to discover several electrical outlets next to the desk, which made it the perfect place for working on projects or recharging devices. Near the desk was a glass topped table with two matching chairs, and a floor lamp, which perfectly illuminated the space.

Staying with Family at Hilton Fort Lauderdale Marina sofa

 

Like many hotel rooms, ours boasted a large, flat screen TV positioned atop a cabinet directly across from the beds. The dark wood cabinet was topped with glass and had several drawers capable of holding more odds and ins. The room’s mini fridge was behind the cabinet’s only tan paneled door.

A small walk-in closet provided storage in the room with wooden hangers, a small luggage rack, an ironing board, and a medium sized room safe. The frosted glass paneling on the closet doors and motion sensor light inside were nice touches. We particularly liked the fact the whole space was well lit, so finding stored away things was easy.

Staying with Family at Hilton Fort Lauderdale Marina lamp

The room had a small balcony  from which we could enjoy spectacular views of the harbor. The balcony furniture consisted of two chairs and a table to allow guests to enjoy sitting outside sipping their morning coffee.

Staying with Family at Hilton Fort Lauderdale Marina seating

Our Bathroom

Frosted glass pocket doors led into the room’s bathroom area. We could lock these doors for more privacy, a feature every family would appreciate. The bathroom, decorated predominantly in white, boasted a Corian-like black countertop with big bold tan flooring tiles.

The vanity featured a smallish, round shaped sink with high sides that kept items from falling into the basin. Instead of the traditional cabinet with doors, it consisted of an open one that held extra towels and washcloths. An exceptionally large mirror lined with fluorescent lights hung over the vanity providing ample light. We found two plugs near the light switch so that people could use items like hairdryers without leaving the bathroom. On the countertop was a complimentary amenity kit of bath products.
Staying with Family at Hilton Fort Lauderdale Marina chair

The shower area, tiled in white porcelain tiles boasted a glass enclosure. The shower featured dark chrome grab bars, and a  hand-held shower head, useful for parents  and caregivers to bath kids. There was a standard toilet, which functioned fine but the handle on it was worn and stood out in the rest of the well furnished, recently renovated bathroom
Staying with Family at Hilton Fort Lauderdale Marina food

Dining

Travelers looking for a quick meal could go to Antea, the lobby bistro bar, for coffee, baked goods, and sandwiches. At night, Antea turned into a social spot where guests could get to know each other. Nanking, featuring Asian style cuisine and fusion dishes, was by far our favorite. The venue featured bright, Chinese-themed decor and excellent service. We also liked The G by the pool. The area seemed to be a very ‘happening’ spot and attracted many of the younger travelers staying in the hotel.

Staying with Family at Hilton Fort Lauderdale Marina drink

The newly opened Waterway Room, serving American breakfast with views of the Intracoastal Waterway, was the perfect place to start our day. Our son with autism particularly liked the fact that he could make his own breakfast smoothie in his personal Nutribullet. Furthermore, the hotel offered room service for those who couldn’t or didn’t want to leave their rooms for dining.

Staying with Family at Hilton Fort Lauderdale Marina red

Amenities

The hotel featured a beautiful outdoor pool as well as an up-to-date gym.
Travelers staying at the hotel could take the Water Taxi from Fort Lauderdale to sightsee the main attractions without even exiting the boat.
This Hilton allowed both service dogs and pets to stay in the rooms.
We got free WiFi in the room since we are Hilton Gold Members, but otherwise, there is free wifi in the public areas.

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Autism Travel Tips:

  • This hotel is built next to a waterway. Therefore, it is pertinent for parents that have kids with autism who wander off to ask for a room as far away from elevators as possible.
  • For noise sensitive travelers, ask for a top level floor room away from the pool area and the highway.
  • There is a safety bar in the shower so that travelers with mobility issues can easily access the shower.
  • Our room had a bath mat to provide traction for those that need it.
  • There are double locks on the balcony, which is great. However, the structure might pose a safety hazard for those traveling with kids or other individuals that tend to wander. Therefore, parents should bring their own alarm for the door.

 

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