The Family Friendly Marriott Brussels Hotel Grand Place

The Family Friendly Marriott Brussels Hotel Grand Place pin

Over the summer, we had the opportunity to fly to the Belgian capital of Brussels. During our visit to the city, our hotel of choice was the Marriott Brussels Hotel Grand Place, located on Rue August Orts 3-7. This property, with 220 rooms and suites, is strategically located near Old Town, the city’s Grand Place Square, and the Anspach pedestrian-only zone.

The Family Friendly Marriott Brussels Hotel Grand Place platter

Why It Is Family Friendly

Families will certainly like the fact that this hotel is close to several unique attractions and only ten minutes from the local airport. We specifically chose the Brussel Marriott Hotel Grand Palace because the building is within walking distance of all the Old City landmarks, including the famous Rue de Buerre and the Mannekin Pis statue. The neighborhood is also home to many different, kid-friendly eateries including a McDonald’s and a Pizza Hut next door. Plenty of buses stop nearby, and the closest metro station is only a short distance away. With that said, Brussels is a walkable city and getting from the hotel to many places is usually no problem at all.

The Family Friendly Marriott Brussels Hotel Grand Place lobby

Fellow Travelers

A mix of solo travelers, families, and business people make up the clientele at this establishment. However, the week we stayed there were quite a few families because it was summer.

Our Welcome

Before arriving at the hotel, we made sure the staff knew that we needed a feather-free, quiet room. All of our requests were honored to the letter.

The Family Friendly Marriott Brussels Hotel Grand Place bar

As Marriott Gold members, we were able to take advantage of a few benefits, and one of them was the early check-in mentioned above. This fact proved most convenient as our flight from California landed in Brussels early in the morning, and we didn’t have to wait until the usual three pm time to get into the room. The Reception desk staff were extremely friendly, polite and helpful.

As soon as we were checked in, the staff directed us to the Executive Lounge where we took a much-needed coffee and tea break after the long haul flight.

Decor

Tasteful colors such as black, white, gray, and dark blue pervade the hotel building’s public areas. However, the splashes of red or green in various spots do wonders to enliven the overall décor. Restful browns and tan hues decorated our room. Meanwhile, our bathroom contained a great deal of white marble and black accent pieces.

The Family Friendly Marriott Brussels Hotel Grand Place red

Our Room

We had called ahead and asked for a quiet room, and they gave us one on the 5th floor which was in a peaceful spot.

Our spotlessly clean room was moderately sized by American standards. So, larger families should book an additional room to make sure everyone has plenty of space.

The décor of the room was simple yet tasteful with green and brown carpeting. The artwork that graced the walls depicted pictures of Brussels. The room had a comfortable king-sized bed and a desk with an ergonomic chair. We had multiple power outlets, useful for all the devices that need charging.

The Family Friendly Marriott Brussels Hotel Grand Place carpet

The room had a spacious closet with ample shelving and a convenient ironing board, as well as a chest of drawers under the TV. The closet had a safe placed at a reasonable height which was large enough to hold a laptop or tablet. The safe came with the bonus of a power source inside so travelers could charge devices while locked away.

The room was well lit, and there was a little sitting area which is useful for reading or even just taking a break to enjoy some tea or coffee from the complimentary bar section in the room.

The Family Friendly Marriott Brussels Hotel Grand Place cheese

Although the entire area, as mentioned, was exceptionally well-lit, the hotel designers didn’t neglect to give guests room darkening shades. We found the curtains to be particularly useful in combatting jet lag after a long flight.

The Bathroom

Our bathroom was just the right size for our group, elegant with a green granite counter and basin. There was a combination curtained shower/bathtub with a handheld shower attachment, useful for those traveling with children. There was also a retractable line for drying clothes provided in the tub.

The Family Friendly Marriott Brussels Hotel Grand Place bathroom

The amenity kit featured Acca Kappa items, an Italian brand of cosmetics established in the 1860s, along with a hairdryer and magnifying mirror.

Executive Lounge

Access to the Executive lounge is also a Gold member privilege, although patrons can also pay a fee to upgrade their stay and have access to it. The lounge had modern décor, with high-quality food presented with a classic touch.The executive lounge was an excellent spot to sit and enjoy breakfast or a snack during the day. We additionally enjoyed the daily happy hour with appetizers that included many cheese dips and antipasto along with the country’s beers, wines, and soft drinks.

The Family Friendly Marriott Brussels Hotel Grand Place tv

Dining

Marriott Gold members staying at the hotel get complimentary access to the breakfast buffet, which is otherwise 25 euros. Since we were in that country’s capital, naturally one of the first things we tried at the buffet were the DIY Belgian waffles.

We saw a good selection of cooked eggs in various styles, including a chef preparing individual omelets on request.

The Family Friendly Marriott Brussels Hotel Grand Place dining

In the prepared food section, there were potatoes, mushrooms, pork sausages and bacon. There were yogurts to go along with cereals, grains, and different types of milk. The buffet also featured dried fruits, nuts, and fresh juices. The baked goods section included croissants, muffins, Danishes, bread and jams, honey, butter, and spreads. Our personal favorite station was the one with cold cuts and smoked fish – mackerel, herring, salmon, hams, and sliced cheeses.

The Family Friendly Marriott Brussels Hotel Grand Place wine Autism Travel Tips:

  • Travelers with autism requiring a quiet room should call the front desk or Marriott reservations to request one.
  • Ampach Boulevard, the street running in front of the hotel, was recently closed to vehicular traffic. As a result, strolling the area is a safe and pleasant pastime for even the youngest of children. Most kids will be entertained with the different free activities offered on the boulevard, such as bocce and table tennis.

 

Family Stay at the Westin Memphis Beale Street

On our recent visit to Memphis, Tennessee, we stayed at the Starwood (SPG) Westin Memphis Beale Street Hotel. Located on 170 Lt George W. Lee Avenue, it is a block away from Beale Street – one of the cities’ most famous thoroughfares boasting fine dining, clubbing, shopping and a buzzing nightlife.

Family Stay at the Westin Memphis Beale Street guitar

The multi-storied, centrally-located, contemporary-styled building offers four room options namely the Executive Suite, Junior Suite, Traditional Two Queen and Traditional King. We chose the hotel because it is new and wouldn’t have plumbing or electricity issues and because it is on a quiet street yet has proximity to the world-famous Beale Street. This Boulevard has so much to offer; specifically appealing to us were the museums, the Gibson guitar factory, and the FedEx Forum. For some, the Memphis Zoo and Pink Palace family of Museums are the go-to places. In addition, not to be forgotten is Graceland, the home of legendary Elvis Presley the King of Rock.

Fellow Travelers

The week that we stayed there, the property was overrun by Kansas City Chiefs fans that had arrived in town to watch the Sugar Bowl and support their team. However, this family-friendly hotel, close to the Mississippi River and a host of attractions is an excellent location for foreigners, locals and out-of-state tourists alike.

Family Stay at the Westin Memphis Beale Street carriage

The Lobby

The moderately sized lobby had neutral hues with modern decorations. The most distinctive piece in the lobby was the attractive display of Gibson guitars, meant to attract visitors to the museum across the street. The lobby has only two working elevators, which can at times create a mini clog, especially when the hotel is overwhelmed by sports fans.

Family Stay at the Westin Memphis Beale Street piano

Our Welcome

We had requested a feather free bedding and quiet room before our stay and contacted the front desk management to ensure we got the accommodations requested. We arrived in the early evening and checked in relatively quickly. The lobby is decorated in modern hues of whites and creams and was stylish and minimalistic with comfortable couches provided to sit.

Family Stay at the Westin Memphis Beale Street bar

Our Room

We booked our room with two traditional queen beds since we were traveling with our sons.

The room was carpeted and decorated in hues of greenish gray. The walls were wallpapered in cool tones of green and gray. There was also some artwork on the wall. There is a fabric upholstered lounge chair and an Ottoman in green leather facing the windows showcasing a great view the city from nine stories up.

The two queen-sized beds were comfortable as was the black leather chair supplied for the desk. There was adequate lighting in the room provided by standing lamps. We appreciated the electric splitter that allowed us to charge multiple devices at the same time. The room had a large mirror and a reasonably big closet with an ironing board and iron. The room also had two phones and a recharging iPad station.

Family Stay at the Westin Memphis Beale Street white

In the center of the room was a chest of drawers with three deep drawers offering ample storage for guests’ belongings and a surcharge mini-fridge stacked with alcoholic drinks. There was a small Mr.Coffee machine and an area for coffee cups. As SPG Gold members we received complimentary water and free wifi. The TV screen was 32 inch with good viewing throughout the room however the hotel only provides a limited number of channels.

The air conditioning was placed at the end of the room away from the beds which we thought was a good idea.

An unusual feature of this room was its incredibly high ceilings which would be an advantage for tall guests. This fact was, however, somewhat of an inconvenience in our case as everything seemed to be out of reach, including the safe in the closet.

Family Stay at the Westin Memphis Beale Street bed

The Bathroom

The bathroom was decorated with big tan colored tiles and green wallpaper. The room had four lights, more than adequate for the spacious area. The shower was nice, but the hand-held attachment and overheard rain shower feature were too high up. We liked the sizeable grab bars in both the shower and the bath. The commode was separate, and there was a standing vanity table constructed out of dark wood with a granite countertop and sink. The bathroom even had a clothesline to dry clothes which came in very handy. They provided a standard amenity kit with shampoo, conditioner, body lotion and shower gel.

Family Stay at the Westin Memphis Beale Street bathroom

Robes and slippers are provided upon request. We received them after we contacted housekeeping.

Dining

The onsite Bleu Restaurant is themed around southern hospitality, decorated with warm orange colors accented by bright blue lights. The Bleu Restaurant serves seafood items such as salmon stir fry and catfish. Our family booked the restaurant for New Year’s Eve. The experience was slightly frustrating because the dishes came at an uneven pace and were all on the small size, to the point that when we had completed our dinner, we were still hungry. The entire experience cost us more than $200, and the service was a tad beyond adequate.

Family Stay at the Westin Memphis Beale Street food

The following morning we came to give the venue another time. As we discovered, the portions were larger, but the service level, unfortunately, did not change and could use an upgrade.

There is also a Hotel Lobby Bar and Starbucks in the venue. For more budget oriented travelers, there is also a mini-mart that sells snacks

Amenities

For those wanting to get some exercise in during the trip, the hotel offers the Westin Workout Fitness Studio. Here in the studio, visitors will find a variety of modern exercise equipment. The venue will also provide New Balance running shoes to guests in their requested sizes.

Family Stay at the Westin Memphis Beale Street desk

Cost 

Pricing starts at $255 and includes access to the refreshment center and 24-hour room service. SPG members get free internet, but all other guests pay $7-$13 per day for access. Be aware that the parking is $20 per car per day, which is a bit steep in our opinion.

What Worked and Didn’t Work

What worked for us was the central location and proximity to Beale Street. Our family enjoyed walking around trying some famous eateries.

Family Stay at the Westin Memphis Beale Street bar
What didn’t work was that the housekeeping dropped the ball on us. We had requested a feather-free room because of serious allergies and we still found feathers in the room. It took almost two hours to get the proper bedding. The housekeeping also did not replenish the room amenities in a timely manner.

Autism Travel Tips:

  • There is a handy self-explanatory lock and deadbolt higher up on the door which is a good safety feature.
  • The windows do not open, a good safety measure.
  • For the noise-sensitive who need a quiet room, check the Stadium schedule. If there are games planned for the time you book, request a room facing away from the stadium.
  • Bring your own anti-slip bath mat for the shower.

Family Stay at the Westin Memphis Beale Street building

  • If you or a family member have any specific allergies to feathers or chemicals make sure you not only mention it several times at booking but plan to arrive early in case things don’t go as planned and housekeeping needs to get involved.
  • The surcharge mini-bar does not have space for anything else, so be aware that you may be able to store certain medicines in there but make a different plan for storing perishable products.

Family Stay at the Fairmont San Francisco Hotel

 

Family StayFairmont San Francisco (1)

Atop Nob Hill, San Francisco, with its picturesque sights and a rich history dating back to the mid-1800s, you will find the flagship of the luxury, world-renowned Fairmont hotels, and resorts. The Fairmont San Francisco Hotel, where elegance meets excellence, proudly boasts panoramic views of the Bay. The hotel’s location is also the only place in the city where two of the iconic cable car lines intersect.

Family Stay at the Fairmont San Francisco Hotel outside

The Lobby

Boasting 600 rooms, the property is vast yet tastefully designed. The building decor, reminiscent of opulent days gone by, was impressive outside and inside. The hotel lobby featured grandiose hand carved ceilings, floor to ceiling marble pillars with scattered Asian inspired artifacts. Golden gilded velvet furniture, marble floors, and grand staircases continued the Asian theme, along with live orchids and potted bamboo trees.

Family Stay at the Fairmont San Francisco Hotel sofa

 

Fellow Travelers

The week we stayed, our fellow travelers were businessmen, solo travelers, and families wishing to experience luxury in the city by the Bay.

Family StayFairmont San Francisco (1) lamps

Our Welcome

After driving six hours from LA, we finally arrived at the hotel in the late afternoon. The bellman greeted us warmly and helped us with our luggage through the check in process. Check in was a breeze since we had contacted the front desk personnel earlier that day to ensure that they had reserved a feather free and quiet room for us.

Family Stay at the Fairmont San Francisco Hotel honey

Our Room

Much to our surprise, we were upgraded to the Nepal Suite.

I have to say that we were completely wowed! The Nepal was a corner suite with strategically placed windows showcasing the beautiful views of San Francisco. The large suite was divided into a living room, bedroom, and connecting mini hallway. The entrance hallway had a table with a mirror, stylish ceiling lights, and provided a functional welcome to guests entering the suite.

Family Stay at the Fairmont San Francisco Hotel couch

The Living Room

The designated living room was divided into two different areas. One was an elegant dining area, complete with a table that could accommodate half a dozen guests as well as a sitting area that had an opening sofa and two armchairs comfortable for reading the complimentary newspapers provided. The opening sofa turned out to be perfect for our son with autism, as it was spacious and facing the TV set that he enjoyed watching.

Family Stay at the Fairmont San Francisco Hotel food

The room also had a rather large, elegant dresser/display case that stocked a surcharge minibar along with a coffee/tea station. The plush paisley designed carpet complimented the look of black, white, and brown furniture pieces in the room. We especially liked the San Francisco art photography displayed on the walls.

The Bedroom

Our separate master bedroom was bright and airy, with plenty of natural light as well as bedside and standing lamps conveniently placed. Just like the living room area, the bedroom had its own TV set, which came in handy when we, the adults, wanted to watch a different program than our son. Needless to say, this suite had ample storage with a plethora of shelves, hanging space, and drawers. The walk in closet was so spacious that one could take a nap inside. The closet was probably the largest of its kind we had seen during our travels. In addition to the bed, there was a desk with an accompanying padded leather chair, which was useful for me as a writer.
Family Stay Fairmont San Francisco (1) curtain

 

We all appreciated that there were plenty of outlets to plug in devices in both rooms.

The Bathroom

In sharp contrast to the generous size of the rest of the suite, the bathroom was relatively modest but beautifully designed. The floor was a golden-brown marble, and the sink was black granite. The bathroom had a combination bathtub/shower with a curtain and no handheld shower attachment, which would have been helpful for parents of younger kids. The amenity kit’s gently-fragranced Rose 31 cosmetics was an added welcome, as were the bathrobes and slippers supplied.

The attention to detail was impressive; even the toilet paper had a custom made fabric cover with the Fairmont logo stitched on it.

Family Stay at the Fairmont San Francisco Hotel wall

Fine Dining

This hotel offered a choice of various dining venues. The first night we arrived, we enjoyed a scrumptious dinner at the Laurel Court restaurant along with a pianist for entertainment. The dining hall had a ceiling rotunda with gorgeous glass chandeliers and Italian frescos depicting countryside landscapes as decor.

Family StayFairmont San Francisco (1) hallay

The following morning, we enjoyed their breakfast buffet in the same hall with its lofty vaulted ceilings and grand marble pillars. The food was high quality and plentiful. The buffet featured different choices of juices as well as coffees and teas for refreshments.
The baked goods section had danishes, muffins, french toast, sticky buns, and bagels along with other pastries. The cut up fruit section looked especially inviting with its colorful fresh berries displayed. In addition, guests could feast on freshly made yogurts, a selection of cold cuts, cheeses, cereals, sausages, potatoes, and eggs benedict.
Our favorite was the chef’s station where you could customize your own omelet.

Family Stay at the Fairmont San Francisco Hotel buffet

For those who need their java fix, the hotel had a coffee shop where they sell baked goods and hot beverages. The hotel’s stores also sold honey related products like beer and stuffed dolls.

Not to be missed was the hotel’s Tonga room, a fun place to go dancing and listen to music. The room served killer cocktails and scrumptious appetizers in a pirate ship environment.

The Roof

The hotel rooftop is a popular venue for weddings and other special occasions, boasting manicured gardens overlooking the city. A less known area, albeit still interesting to explore with kids, is the hotel’s herb garden that supplies the venue’s kitchens with fresh ingredients. Complete with bee hives, raspberry vines, fragrant lavender and other herbs, visiting this little ecosystem below the clouds was one of the highlights of our stay.

Family Stay at the Fairmont San Francisco Hotel flower

We were very fortunate to get a private tour of the herb gardens and outside spaces with the hotel chef. During our chat, he elaborated on the hotel’s food menu for dogs. Apparently, the Fairmont in San Francisco is one of the few in the world that not only welcomes four-legged friends but provides freshly prepared food items that owners can order through room service or in the restaurant.

The Cost

Room at this venue starts at $242 a night. The Fairmont has a parking garage, and the cost is $67 for valet parking and unlimited access per night.

 

Family StayFairmont San Francisco (1) fu dogs

Overall, the Fairmont San Francisco well exceeded our expectations, and we had an incredible stay in their hotel. The staff went out of their way to make us feel welcome as a family and to cater and accommodate our son with autism throughout our trip.
We look forward to staying at the beautiful property again sometime in the future.

Family Stay at the Fairmont San Francisco Hotel water

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Bring your own anti-slip mat for the bathroom if this is a concern.
  • The hotel is very safety conscious, so the windows open partially just for air.
  • The Tonga Room is a fun place. However, it can get crowded and noisy, and therefore might not be suitable for noise sensitive kids.Family Stay at the Fairmont San Francisco Hotel bee
  • For this size room, make sure you bring at least two night-lights. There’s quite a bit of walking in the dark, especially from the living room into the bathroom.
  • If you do decide to go and visit the bees or get a tour, talk to your kid about not touching anything.
  •  There’s a lot of breakables in this suite. Ask staff to remove the breakables ahead of time if this would be a concern.

 

Family Stop at the Westlake Village Residence Inn Hotel

Family Stop at the Westlake Village Residence Inn Hotel pin

About 45 minutes’ drive away from the center of Los Angeles, situated at 30950 Russell Ranch Rd, Westlake Village, you will find the Marriott Residence Inn Family Stop at the Westlake Village Residence Inn Hotel sky

Westlake Village is a small community right outside of LA that is family friendly and safe. The community is close to the usual malls and shops, including Target and Costco. Families can settle in or stay here in transit to LA.

 

Like every other Residence Inn property, water, Wi-Fi, and parking are free.

Fellow Guests

Patrons will be sharing this hotel with guests of all ages. There will be folks here on business (there are many digital firms in the area) as well as vacationers for long weekends, overnight or for longer periods of time. With its family-friendly atmosphere and location within reasonable driving distance to places like Disneyland and Malibu, it is a popular place for the holidays.

Family Stop at the Westlake Village Residence Inn Hotel blue

Our Welcome

The staff was ecstatic to get locals to stay with them to show around the property. We were thrilled that they could accommodate us on a very short notice after we experienced a power outage, and we were grateful for their hospitality. Check in was a breeze, due to our status as Marriot members, and all our accommodations are registered in their system.

Family Stop at the Westlake Village Residence Inn Hotel outside

Décor

As visitors approach the hotel from the outside, they will see palm trees, clean lines and a modern look of the four-story sturdy, stately building. Inside, the lobby has a pretty sitting area all done in neutral tones with carpets and furnishings in creams, browns, and a few muted accents. The fireplace gives a homely and welcoming feel every month of the year. The guest rooms also have carpeting which is golden browns with flecks of turquoise.

Family Stop at the Westlake Village Residence Inn Hotel wall

Our Room

We were not originally going to be staying at this hotel. However, at the last minute, our plans changed. We called and made reservations at the Westlake Village’s Residence Inn. The staff accommodated us on such short notice which was extremely helpful.

It is good that they had 160 rooms and there was some availability. The room we were given was a completely self-sustaining unit, just like the others in the Residence Inn franchises. It worked for guests who need either long or short-term stays.

Our room was clean, spacious and comfortable. The front door had a double lock, which we appreciated. There was a living room and dining room area inside. It has air conditioning which guests can control making it either hot or cold according to their preference.

Family Stop at the Westlake Village Residence Inn Hotel orange

The room didn’t just have only beds, but also an opening sofa for extra sleeping space in the sitting-room area. The 32” television screen can be seen easily while lying down in it.

There is plenty of storage space. The room had one small closet with a small hanging space with ample drawers and another closet with more extensive hanging space. The night stands as well as the TV console doubled as chests of drawers, which was great.

For travelers who come to this property for work and business, there was a nicely sized desk with a chair featuring an ergonomically fit backrest. On the desk, along with others, there was a phone, ample lighting, and lamps, and electric power outlets. The outlets were perfect for family members needing to charge their multiple devices at the same time.

Family Stop at the Westlake Village Residence Inn Hotel chair

Our Bathroom

The bathroom was decorated in neutral, earthy tones of creams on the walls and linoleum flooring. It featured a tub/shower combo with an overhead attachment but no handheld shower head. Housekeeping provided plenty of towels as well as a hairdryer and small amenity kit.

Family Stop at the Westlake Village Residence Inn Hotel bathroom

Like all Residence Inns properties, this too had a kitchenette with a dishwasher, cooktop, big microwave, toaster, coffee maker, and fridge. Families have the option to request that the refrigerator is stocked on your arrival. Also, for an additional payment, groceries can be replenished in the kitchenette. This kitchen was also fully furnished with crockery, cutlery, pots, pans and other necessary cooking utensils. The hotel also provides a laundromat service.

Dining Options

The Residence Inn, like all others, offers a complimentary breakfast buffet. It is served in the communal dining room, and it caters to American travelers.

The free breakfast buffet offers hot and cold dishes, including cooked eggs, bacon, sausage, cut up fruit, jellies, a plethora of bakery items, as well as hot and cold morning beverages. For all other meals, guests have the option of cooking in their units or taking advantage of the restaurants in the area.

Family Stop at the Westlake Village Residence Inn Hotel fridge

Travelers should be aware that the Residence Inn also offers a convenient happy hour called the “Residence Inn Mix” to encourage socializing and make use of the lobby area and outdoors. They offer a couple of appetizers, at least one hot dish, and beer and wine on weekdays.

They do provide BBQ facilities for the guests too. There is a weekly schedule of evening events which include dining.

Amenities

There is a full fitness center in the hotel as well as a pool. These are used by the guests from morning until night, especially in the summer months. Right off the lobby, there’s a gaming section with a pool table. There’s a sundries store with supplies for guests who forgot to pack things.

Family Stop at the Westlake Village Residence Inn Hotel table

Autism Travel Tips:

  • The facility caters for wheelchairs, simply let the hotel know in advance that you need the suite that has in-room accessibility and the accessible bathroom and roll-in shower.
  • For those sensitive to light, they do have blackout drapes in the rooms.

Family Stop at the Westlake Village Residence Inn Hotel pool

  • They do not provide non-slip mats for the bathroom, so it is advisable to bring your own.
  • The hotel has Free wifi on their premises.
  • There is a lock on the balcony door, which helps with safety.
  • There is a grab bar in the bathroom.

 

Family Stay at the JW Marriot Downtown LA

 

Last month, we had a unique opportunity to stay at the luxurious JW Marriott Hotel in downtown LA while attending the BlogHer 2016 conference. This hotel is situated right next to the Staples Center and is part of the LA live complex that includes the Ritz-Carlton hotel – another Marriott property.

Family Stay at the JW Marriot Downtown LA bar

The Hotel

Located at 900 West Olympic Boulevard Los Angeles, California, the 21 story, 805-roomed premises is a smoke-free, pet-free zone within walking distance to the L.A. Convention Center. It is close to many tourist attractions, stores and museums in the newly revived Downtown area.
The hotel is in a central location within the LA Live complex, with its multiple food venues and movie theaters. The JW Marriott also boasts a well-run executive lounge and a  luxurious pool with kids’ toys.
It is within walking distance of some grocery stores and is not far from the city’s larger malls. All of these factors make this hotel a great attraction for many families visiting LA.

Family Stay at the JW Marriot Downtown LA outside

 

Our Welcome

As Marriott members, we had already requested a feather-free and quiet room noted in our file. However, I did call the front desk manager to check and reiterate that all would be ready before our arrival.
Even though on the day we checked-in, there were hundreds of guests there for the conference waiting in line, the process went smoothly. Within fifteen minutes I had the key to our room in my hand, and I was on my way to my room on the 20th floor.

 

Family Stay at the JW Marriot Downtown LA decor
The Decor

The hotel had magnificent decorations with modern-looking hanging crystal lamps and chandeliers spread along their lobby areas.
The hotel atmosphere was hip, vibrant and ‘very LA.’
Apart from the conference goers (the hotel is a favorite for conventions and symposiums attendees), one can expect to rub elbows with families, solo travelers and even a few celebrities – this is LA after all!
The surprise factor was without a doubt the Adele wax statue with which we could take a selfie and pretend we had just attended the Grammy awards.

Family Stay at the JW Marriot Downtown LA flower

The Room

Our room was decorated in warm hues of oranges and creams, along with green accents in the carpeting.
It was a surprisingly large room with a convenient layout for a family of four. We received complimentary bottled water because of our Marriott Platinum status. Our room featured two double beds that were comfortable and could easily fit a family with young kids.

Taking the kids to (1)

One of the first things we noticed was all the storage space. The sizable closet was well-lit and contained an iron, ironing board, a safe that could easily fit a 17’’ laptop, and complimentary robes.

Conveniently placed mirrors added to the functionality of the room. As in most hotels, the room had a chest of drawers that served as a stand for the 42 inch TV. These were deep drawers in which we could comfortably place our belongings.

Family Stay at the JW Marriot Downtown LA room

 

The room also had a mini-bar fridge and a stocked coffee center. There was also a writing desk with a slide out shelf that had a  built phone and electrical sockets for plugging in electronic devices.

The fun element in the room was the swiveling chairs that our son with sensory issues enjoyed the most

The large windows, boasting a city view, had both thin and block out light curtains. We appreciated that the A/C vents were situated away from the beds, so the cold air did not blow directly on us as we slept. We also enjoyed the fact that there was a central control panel to adjust the temperature settings.

Family Stay at the JW Marriot Downtown LA adele

The Bathroom

A stylish sliding door lead to the bathroom. The room, spacious with sleek and decorative tiling, had a shower with a vibrant colored curtain. The mirror added to the spacious feeling of the room. The amenity kit on the granite counter-top consisted of shampoos, body wash, and lotions as well as a hairdryer under the basin.

Apparently, the hotel is quite eco-friendly with the flush button on the commode offering a half or full flush. Keeping with the eco-friendly theme, there is a night light feature which glows a faint green light in the dark to help guests see their way at night.

Family Stay at the JW Marriot Downtown LA bathroom

It would have been better if the bathroom had a lock to allow a nice touch of privacy. We also would have appreciated a grab bar in the bathtub as well as a clothesline for drying towels or bathing suits.

Executive Lounge

The lounge was large and comfortable with plush seating both indoors and outdoors which for LA was a bonus. The evening spread was adequate for a snack, but more hot dishes would have been an excellent addition.
Wines and beers were complimentary, but be advised that hard liquor beverages were not. We loved the fact that unlike many other properties we’ve frequented, this place welcomed kids of all ages, and was the only one to date, it had high chairs handy.

Family Stay at the JW Marriot Downtown LA cage

Restaurants

The hotel offers a few dining options to consider.

For drinks and dining, there’s The Mixing Room, open seven days a week. This restaurant specializes in mixology of customized cocktails.
The WP24 By Wolfgang Puck offers spectacular panoramic views while serving a modern Chinese cuisine while at Ford’s Filling Station, guests can enjoy  Californian Cuisine dishes with a Southern influence.For a quick lunch or killer cocktail, stop by the Glance Lobby Bar.Java addicts should try the Illy Espressamente Coffee House.

Family Stay at the JW Marriot Downtown LA food

Conveniently, the hotel also offers a 24/7 Room service, perfect for those who might get hungry at the wee hours of the night and don’t feel like leaving their comfortable room.

The above are just a few of many options for travelers in the hotel itself, but be aware that plenty of eateries are just around the corner in the LA Live complex.

Amenities

The outdoor pool on the third floor is large, with chaise lounges spread around it and a few private cabanas one can rent. They have an unlimited supply of complimentary fluffy clean towels. Like many other hotels, there were no lifeguards in attendance.
The day we stayed we saw numerous guests relaxing by the water, and yet it didn’t feel crowded in any way. In fact, it was a quiet place to unwind after visiting the City of Angels.

We were pleasantly surprised to see kids’ pool toys available at no extra charge and commented how it was a nice touch by the hotel management to make families feel welcome.

Family Stay at the JW Marriot Downtown LA gym

The gym, included in the stay, faces the bustling Olympic Boulevard. Rather modest in size, the facility had plenty of cardiovascular equipment and free weights. The gym offered free chilled bottled water and clean fluffy towels to use after the workout, a much-appreciated feature.

The hotel was connected via a set of corridors to the Ritz-Carlton hotel so guests could use the spa facilities there. Patrons could get excellent, albeit pricey, body scrubs, wraps, massages, facials and manicures/pedicures in the Ritz-Carlton Spa, as well as use their fabulous steam room.

Family Stay at the JW Marriot Downtown LA pool

Service

We found the service at the hotel to be excellent. The housekeeping staff not only responded quickly to any request we had, but they also made a point of introducing themselves and asking us every day if we needed anything for them to supply.

Family Stay at the JW Marriot Downtown LA chair

Cost

As mentioned before, the hotel in downtown LA was not particularly budget-friendly. However, as they say, you get what you pay for, and the JW Marriot is a superb choice for travelers that come to the city.

Room prices start in the low $300s and go up from there according to season and demand.

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Ask for a high floor to minimize the noise since this hotel is located in a busy area of downtown LA.
  • Bring your bath anti slip mat, since the hotel doesn’t supply one.

 

Family Stay at the JW Marriot Downtown LA tv

 

Family Stay at Disney’s Boardwalk Inn Resort

Since we became parents two decades ago, we’ve visited Walt Disney World multiple times.
This year, as part of the TravelingMom.com influencer retreat, we stayed at Walt Disney World Boardwalk.
The quintessential family-friendly hotel;the Disney’s Boardwalk  Inn Resort offered some of the best service, entertainment, and pools in Walt Disney World that we’ve seen so far.

The Boardwalk Inn named for its central location on the boardwalk is across from the Yacht and Beach Club hotels and close to Disney’s Epcot and Hollywood Studios theme parks.
Disney's Boardwalk Inn Resort: Building

Unique Décor

With its muted, sherbet colors and traditional nautical awnings, the décor is reminiscent of pre-WWII Atlantic City and New Jersey hotels. What sets it apart from other properties is a unique style that combines kitschy, carnival objects with antiques and a hint of Disney pixie dust.
Family Stay at Disney's Boardwalk Inn Resort BELLMAN

Magical Welcome

The Disney’s magic touches started from the minute we arrived at the property, and the doorman wearing Mickey gloves shook our son’s hand. The staff helped with our luggage while we walked to the check-in counter artfully decorated with colorful balloons available for guests to take.

A staff member greeted us and handed us our Magicbands that served as our room key, park ticket and resort charge card for the duration of our stay.

Family Stay at Disney's Boardwalk Inn Resort BALLOONS

Our Room

On the 5th floor, elegantly decorated in muted shades of yellow and green, away from the elevators and service rooms, our room was (as requested) silent and feather-free, to accommodate our son with autism.
The room boasted two very comfortable queen sized beds as well as an opening sofa. There was ample storage for our belongings in the closet and the oversized chest of drawers incorporating the flat screen TV. The writing desk and chair complete with Mickey carvings added a touch of whimsy.

Disney's Boardwalk Inn Resort: room

A coffee maker, mini cooler, and free bottled water added a nice touch, and there were several sockets to power up electronics near the desk and beds.
Guests who are temperature sensitive will be glad to know the room had central A/C and a ceiling fan. As with all Disney properties, the Wi-Fi was reasonably fast and reliable.
Our only disappointment was the room safe that was tiny and couldn’t adequately fit more than one iPad.

The bathroom featured two separate areas: the granite double sink vanity (very useful for a family with kids heading out in the morning), and the tub/shower area with a fixed shower head and commode.


Family Stay at Disney's Boardwalk Inn Resort BATHROOM

Hidden Mickeys

Like all the Disney properties, this one too challenged guests to discover the Mickeys hidden in the different designs.We found them everywhere; the exit room map, bed cover, Mickey shaped folded towels, door handles, the desk lamp and even carved into the furniture.

Disney's Boardwalk Inn Resort:room chair

Best Surprise

The mini balcony with two chairs was surprisingly squeaky clean with no insects even though it was springtime in Orlando and the Love Bugs seemed to be everywhere.

Disney's Boardwalk Inn Resort: Room balcony

The Pools

The hotel featured three pools; our favorite was the Luna Park themed area with its ‘Keister Coaster’– a 200-foot long water slide providing continuous entertainment for the kids.Despite its length, the slide was mild, didn’t toss guests into the water at any significant speed and was suitable even for children who are less comfortable in the water.
The pool area was well designed with plenty of covered spaces and seating for guests who wished to dine or just relax.

Unlike some other hotels, Disney takes water safety seriously and not only provides vigilant lifeguards but life jackets for all guests that can’t swim or who simply feel uncomfortable in the water!
Staff members told me that the pool is beautifully lit at night and worth visiting even if one is not a big fan of swimming pools.
Disney's Boardwalk Inn Resort: pool 2

Fun for the kids

If you need to entertain the kids after a long day in the park, the lobby area with its nightly free magic and juggling acts is the place for you.

Disney's Boardwalk Inn Resort: Lobby sofa
You can also admire the unique lobby furniture (check out the ‘witch’ chairs by the fireplace), elaborate dioramas and listen to the antique lobby carousel play Disney favorites every half hour.

Family Stay at Disney's Boardwalk Inn Resort JUGGLERS

The Magic we didn’t expect to see

If you are staying in the hotel during the weekends, be on the lookout for Cinderella’s carriage that is used for weddings.
Family Stay at Disney's Boardwalk Inn Resort CARRIAGE

The Service

Autism awareness and the service at this hotel is excellent.
Starting with the speedy check-in process to the housekeeping staff that catered to our needs, we were extremely satisfied.
A special shoutout and thank you to the quick thinking front desk staff member who not only got our son a fast replacement of his Magicband but succeeded in calming him down hence preventing a meltdown.

Disney's Boardwalk Inn Resort: ROCKERS

Autism Travel Tips

  • The property has very long corridors so make sure to ask for a room close to the main entrance if your child tires easily.
  • If your child is noise sensitive, request a room on a higher floor that is not facing the boardwalk area or pool.
  • If you don’t mind some noise and want to watch the Epcot Illuminations Fire Show from your hotel room, be sure to ask for a room facing the adult pool.
  • The rocking chairs located at the hotel entrance were a great decorating idea and helped our son with autism calm down after a long day in the park.

Disney's Boardwalk Inn Resort: promenade

 

 

Disclaimer-A discounted media rate was provided for my stay. Opinions in the post reflect my personal and honest opinions.

The Autism Friendly Tradewinds Island Resort

Location

The four-star Tradewinds  Island Resort famous for its motto ‘Just Let Go‘ is located in Saint Petersburg, Florida and features 585 rooms and suites.
The resort compiled of two sister hotels–the Guy Harvey Outpost and the Island Grand  Resort, overlooks the Gulf of Mexico and is feet away from the sandy beach.

The Autism Friendly Tradewinds Island Resort lake

Guests

The resort is quite family oriented, but couples and other groups of travelers will have a great time too.
As an autism- friendly hotel, this hotel has hosted the National Autism Annual Conference for several years and is a favorite with families with special needs kids.

The Autism Friendly Tradewinds Island Resort lobby

Decor

We stayed at the Tradewinds Island Grand Resort where a tropical vibe dominated the resort’s public areas with the design continuing in the guest rooms.

The Autism Friendly Tradewinds Island Resort buildings

Our Room

We stayed in the Breckenridge building that has the option of connecting rooms useful for travelers with larger families.
Our standard room (with free Wi-Fi), 5613 on the fifth floor, was spacious and comfortable with good view of the beach, property’s pools and the hotel’s giant inflatable water slide.

The first thing I noticed upon entering the room was the round dining table with four wooden chairs. The ample seating was a welcome touch since no one had to sit on the bed or the floor like in other hotel rooms we’ve stayed in in the past.

The room furniture was a pleasant mix of rosewood and rattan that gave it a neutral feel. Continuing the resort’s  island theme our room drapes, pillows, and chair cushions were decorated in muted orange and tan hues while the bed coverlets and carpet sported tropical patterns.

Our room boasted two queen sized beds separated by a nightstand that held a phone, alarm clock, a standing lamp and the TV remote. Across from the beds, there was a large flat screen television on top of a large dresser that contained a well-stocked mini bar, complete with a variety of drinks and snacks.

Tradewinds Island Resort: room

Furthermore, closet space was ample, and the two luggage racks supplied adequately held all of our suitcases.We were glad to discover the room safe was large enough to accommodate my laptop as well as several tablets.

We enjoyed the sitting area with the cozy chaise upholstered in a seashell pattern and a matching footrest, next to the window. A nearby wall outlet made it comfortable to sit and work on the laptop while watching the ocean waves. A decorative standing lamp and framed artwork complemented the room furnishings.

Our standard room had a kitchenette, which is useful for families needing to prepare or warm food during their stay. This well-equipped area included a microwave, a mini fridge, coffee pot, a toaster, dishes, glasses, silverware along with dishwashing soap and dish towels for easy clean-up.

The bathroom was on the small side but functional. It had the usual facilities; a commode, a sink, and a combination tub and shower with multilevel shelves for storing bath supplies.
An assortment of toiletry items and mini makeup mirror were standing on the granite countertop. It was disappointing to discover there was no hand held shower head, but we appreciated the powerful shower water pressure.
The Autism Friendly Tradewinds Island Resort bathroom

Service

The Tradewinds Resort reception desk is open 24/7, and its employees have all undergone the specialized autism training awareness program by C.A.R.D.
We were impressed by the printed ‘social story’ booklet that the hotel is handing out to its guests with autism.
Visitors can also benefit from the top notch concierge service provided including a compiled list of attractions to visit with kids both indoor and outdoors around the resort area.

The Autism Friendly Tradewinds Island Resort pool

Activities

Along with its unbeatable location on the beach, the Tradewinds  Island Resort is famous for the plethora of family oriented seasonal activities offered.

The Autism Friendly Tradewinds Island Resort slide

Aside from five pools and two whirlpools, the resort offers multiple complimentary events for families like fishing lessons, poolside movie nights and pirate bonfire parties.

The Autism Friendly Tradewinds Resort trapeze

Hotel guests can enjoy water-based outdoor activities like parasailing, pedal boats, stand up paddle boats and land-based sports like volleyball, mini golfing, ping pong, and tennis for a charge.

The Autism Friendly Tradewinds Island Resort boats
Thrill-seeking travelers should give the trampoline, Gyrator, Jetlev or the ‘Rumfish’s ‘  aquarium with tropical fish swim option, a try!
Our son loved the high tide 200 feet long water slide and was disappointed to hear he had missed the chance to see the resort’s complete inflatable waterpark; which is only available during the summer months.

The Autism Friendly Tradewinds Island Resort fire

Dining & Entertainment

The resort offers eleven dining options for families from fast food (Pizza Hut) to upscale venues like the ‘Palm Court’ Italian Grill,  ‘Bermuda’s’ for steaks and seafood and the ‘Rumfish Grill’ for fusion cuisine.
During our weekend stay, we sampled the ‘Palm Court’ Italian Grill one evening and the ‘RumFish Grill’ located on the resort’s sister property the following day.

Tradewinds Island Resort, Dining

We found the ‘RumFish,’ with its Guy Harvey art and the giant fish aquarium a more kid-friendly venue but slightly noisy for people with autism.
The resort also has several stores that sell snacks and some fast food items that can be taken back and consumed in the rooms.

Dining & Entertainment The Autism Friendly Tradewinds Island Resort

Autism Travel Tips

  • If your kid tends to wander away, remember to ask for the hotel’s “Safety Kit” that includes a hanging door alarm!
  • Our room included the appropriate grab bar and bath mat for the shower and safety locks for the window.
  • All the resort food venues have gluten free options that are helpful for travelers with gluten allergies.
  • The resort kids club has unique sensory activities geared for children with autism – parents should call in advance and make the appropriate arrangements.
  • Parents need to be aware the resort does NOT provide lifeguards for the pools.
  • Families traveling with service dogs should know that The Island Grand has several pet-friendly rooms and a secure Pet Play Zone.

 The Autism Friendly Tradewinds Island Resort sunset

Family Stay at the Westin Grand Central Hotel NYC

Family Stay at the Westin Grand Central Hotel NYC sign
As frequent travelers to New York, we’ve always opted to stay in one of two areas-Times Square or Central Park.Last month, for a change of pace, we decided to try the Westin New York Grand Central Hotel and see how family friendly it is.The property with over 700 rooms and suites is close to Grand Central Terminal  and the Chrysler Building in Midtown Manhattan. Based within walking distance to Times Square’s shopping and dining venues, the hotel is moderately priced (for Manhattan standards), and a convenient location for guests arriving into town via rail. The hotel also has event halls for conventions and weddings as well as a rooftop garden where the hotel grows its own herbs.

Family Stay at the Westin Grand Central Hotel NYC lobby

Décor

The outside of the 41-story building is contemporary looking with glass walls, and metallic-colored pillars at the entrance. The lobby and public spaces sport a neutral upscale looking decor in tones of cream, brown and tan accented by splashes of color in cushions and the artwork on the walls.

Family Stay at the Westin Grand Central Hotel NYC reception

Our welcome

My husband and son arrived a day earlier than I did and experienced a smooth, quick check-in.
I arrived at 4 AM the following morning  on a red eye from Europe and managed to get lost while walking a few blocks in the dark from the airport shuttle station to the hotel. When I called the hotel, a staff member not only explained how to get to the hotel but stayed on the line (for a good five minutes) making sure I was alright. Now THAT was great service!

Family Stay at the Westin Grand Central Hotel NYC bar

The room

We were allocated a king bed with opening sofa room on the 32nd floor. We were a bit leery about getting a room facing the 42nd street, but we heard very little noise.Our carpeted room was reasonably spacious, clean and comfortable. Storage was no problem in the room with both closet hanging space and a large chest of deep drawers. There was also a decently sized work desk, nightstands and a mini sitting area compiled of a chaise and ottoman.

Family Stay at the Westin Grand Central Hotel NYC
The bedside reading lights ,decent sized safe and large mirror at the entrance to the room all added functionality to the room. There was a proper distribution of power outlets throughout the room which is good for a family who have multiple electronic devices that need charging at once. The large screen TV proved challenging to watch from the opening sofa since it couldn’t be moved but didn’t bother us too much as we were busy sightseeing and meeting with friends.

Family Stay at the Westin Grand Central Hotel NYC desk
The hotel supplied bottled drinking water and replenished it daily. There was also a coffee machine with complimentary coffee and tea. At our request, housekeeping provided a no-charge fridge we could fill with snacks and refreshments we purchased for our son. There is a surcharge minibar that is well stocked but be aware that when it comes to the contents you should know that if you move it you pay for it.

 

The bathroom

The bathroom was moderately sized and well-lit with a granite-like, sturdy countertop and tan colored tile and wallpaper. It featured a combo bathtub and shower with a handheld attachment as well as an overhead showerhead that was placed a tad too high up for me.

Family Stay at the Westin Grand Central Hotel NYC ammenity

This bathroom featured a convenient safety grab bar, magnifying mirror and a typical amenity kit with shampoo, conditioner, shower gel and body lotion.

Family Stay at the Westin Grand Central Hotel NYC bathroom

Dining

Though the hotel itself had only one restaurant with a limited menu, there are various dining options for all budgets in the immediate area: from fast food to elegant sit-down restaurants.Be sure to stop by Grand Central Station and check out all the food venues there :especially those offering desserts.

Family Stay at the Westin Grand Central Hotel NYC restaurant

Autism Travel Tips

  • The hotel windows are all fitted with are special locks that should be reassuring for safety – in particular on the upper floors of the building.
  • If your child is light-sensitive, there are double curtains that effectively block out the light.
  • Request a feather-free room  if  your child has feather allergies
  • Though the property has built-in grab bars, we brought our non-slip mat as a backup
  • Be sure to ask for extra foam padding to place on  the sofa bed if your child feels the mattress is too stiff.

 

The Family Friendly Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel

 

 

Situated at 138 St James Ave in Boston Massachusetts, the upscale  Copley Square Fairmont Plaza Hotel, first opened to the public 1912, is a historic landmark property in Copley Square that is part of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
Facing a well-manicured park with plenty of fine dining nearby as well as shopping this luxury property is a perfect fit for families visiting the historic city.

 

The Family Friendly Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel public areas

This establishment that has welcomed numerous dignitaries and celebrities hosts many conferences, proms, and gala events throughout the year so one can expect business people and families as fellow guests.

Décor

Majestic French Beaux-Arts architecture typifies this imposing building. The vast Peacock Alley with its vaulted ceiling, pillars, mosaics, tiled floors, and arches is impressive, to say the least.
Chandeliers, exotic fresh floral arrangements, crystal lamps, and old-fashioned elevators with wooden trellis finishes give this establishment a luxurious air. The corridor walls are decorated with framed menus and photographs of events held at the hotel through the years. There are cozy, secluded conversation areas, an old fashioned letterbox in the lobby; even computer desks available for guests to use. The conference rooms are equally elegant so is no surprise that this is an attractive venue to host balls and upscale events.

The Family Friendly Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel standard room

Rooms

On our visit, we had the opportunity to stay in both the Deluxe Standard room and the Junior Suite. Per our request at booking, we were assigned quiet rooms not facing the street in the W-shaped building.
Carpeted in plush hues of blue, both rooms were spacious; the Junior Suite larger of course.Decorated with wallpaper in shades of cream and browns it matched with the older feel of the hotel.

We had a comfortable king-sized bed in both rooms, but it was different for our son who slept on a  rollaway in the standard room and was happy to upgrade to an opening sofa in the suite.
Both rooms boasted an adequately sized closet along with a  chest of deep drawers with a granite top with a large-screen TV on top. The safe provided could easily fit a small laptop and our tablets.
Also, the standard room and suite had a  writing desk with two outlets although there were two additional outlets built into the nightstands which we found helpful.
The rooms came with the sound machine, Keurig coffee machine, reading lights and big lamps on the side tables but no overhead light.What added to our comfort was the fact both rooms: came with sitting areas: the standard room had a double sitting bench and small lounge while the Junior suite had a sofa, loungers and sitting the bench.

The Family Friendly Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel suite

 

The bathrooms were decorated in a gray-tone marble and both the rooms, they came with a quality amenity kit.Both sported large mirrors, an integrated wall night light ( a great feature we’d love to see other hotels copy) and a bright overhead light.

The bathroom in the standard room with a sink, commode, and tub/shower combination was very compact making it hard for more than one person to use at any given time.

In comparison, the bathroom in the Junior suite was larger divided into two separate areas making it more suitable for a family with kids to use. The first entry area had the tub and sink while the other one had a shower with a glass enclosure, commode, and bidet.
Both rooms we stayed at on the fifth and sixth floor had good water pressure, but no hand held shower heads which would have been a helpful addition to parents with younger kids.We found hotel robes and slippers in both; which we appreciated.The Family Friendly Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel restaurants

 

Restaurant

The hotel has its restaurant called the Oak Long Restaurant that is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

With its stuffed leather seats, the décor is reminiscent of yesteryear and the drapes resemble Revolution era army uniforms. Its limited but quality menu is run on the ‘Farm to Table’ principle and features a few signature dishes like their lobster roll with pickles, their Eggs Royale, which is Eggs Benedict with smoked salmon, and their delicious sweet focaccia with rosemary and honey butter, definitely one of our favorites.

Our son with autism loved the honey and was disappointed to discover that it came from the hotel’s hives located on the roof of the property and wasn’t sold anywhere else.

Spa, Pool, and Gym

There is no pool or spa at this facility, but there is a small gym with great views overlooking the city’s skyline which is available to the guests.

The Family Friendly Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel carly

Unique to this hotel

As you approach this magnificent building, you will see that there are two colossal stone lion statues and one very real and welcoming black Labrador; her name is Catie Copley, and she is the 13-year-old canine ambassador of this hotel!

Catie has a dog house at the entrance as well as her plush dog bed in front of the reception area along with a small crystal bowl for water.

Hotel guests of all ages are encouraged to take her on a walk in the nearby park if they wish.
The hotel store sells plenty of Catie memorabilia such as stuffed animals in her image, magnets and even her biography signed with her very own paw print. As Catie is getting close to retirement age, four-year-old look alike Carly has been brought in to learn the ‘tricks of the trade’ and eventually take her spot.

Autism Travel Tips

The hotel is located in a high traffic square so make sure you ask for a quiet room facing the inside courtyard on a top floor to minimize noise.

Since our son with autism is very noise sensitive (even the smallest of sounds bothers his sleep), we requested the housekeeping person to unplug the mini bar fridge in the room and empty its contents which were done in a prompt manner.

As it is an old building, we discovered some of the windows opened up completely creating a safety hazard for our son with autism.
If you share similar worries, make sure to ask housekeeping to place a lock that blocks the window from opening, like they did in our case.

The building is shaped like a giant letter W which makes it a bit confusing to navigate and find inside rooms.
If you kid walks around on his/her own, have them photograph the corridor pictures on their cell phone so they can recognize the corridor the room is on in the event they get lost.

Bring your non-slip mat to use in the shower or tub.

 

Family Stay at the Kalahari Resort ,Wisconsin Dells

After watching the Travel Channel’s “America’s best ten water parks”, we chose to visit the Kalahari Resort in Wisconsin Dells; a small town an hour out of Madison Wisconsin or a four-hour drive from Minneapolis. From the descriptions of the show, this resort had the most thrill rides and slides which my son with autism loves.

 

Family stay at the Kalahari Resort ,Wisconsin Dells lobby
The resort is family friendly,  catering to guests of all ages and offers a few lodging options and several restaurants on the property. We chose the cheaper package deal in their ‘Desert’ room with indoor and outdoor water park tickets. They also have ‘Hut’ and ‘Nomad’ rooms as well as suites with multiple configurations.

I called the hotel before our arrival and asked for a feather free room due to allergies, as well as a quiet one for my son with autism. We were put in the main building at the end of the corridor on the fourth floor where it was pretty quiet, and we found out that the property doesn’t offer any feather bedding, so that was not an issue.

The Resort

The main lobby area is decorated with metal statues of safari animals and the reception staff members who check you in and supply the room key, and the park entrance bracelet are very professional and efficient. The bracelet made of thin plastic was reasonably comfortable to wear for several hours but proved a bit much for our son to have continuously on his wrist, so we had to remove it every night.

Our Room

Our room boasting two queen beds and a full-size sleeper sofa was decorated in dark browns and had a definite 1980’s vibe to it. Sporting a microwave, coffee maker, cooler and 40 inch TV, it also featured a dining table which served as a makeshift desk.

The hotel’s free WiFi is somewhat reliable but powering the electronic devices in the room might be a challenge if the entire family wishes to charge their devices at the same time since there weren’t enough outlets.

The closet located right at the entrance is a bit of a small space for the luggage of a family of four, but it is somewhat alleviated by the three drawers in the TV chest in the center of the room where clothing items could be stored.

The Kalahari Resort doesn’t offer free bottled water in the rooms, so guests have an option of purchasing bottles at $3-$5 dollars per bottle or asking to re-fill room glasses with tap water from the restaurant bars.

What we liked in the room was the fact that they had special locks that allowed the windows to open only partially, thus blocking kids from pushing against the screens and injuring themselves.

Family stay at the Kalahari Resort ,Wisconsin Dells room

 

The bathroom layout was a bit unusual with the single sink in the room located outside the actual washroom.The actual restroom, decorated in light safari hues, had the commode and the curtained tub.
The resort supplies eco-friendly toiletries like shampoo, conditioner, and soaps but no shower caps or other additional bath accouterments like robes and slippers.Also,the resort does not provide any handheld showerhead or safety mat, so if you feel your child needs them, you should consider bringing your own.

There is no executive lounge, but there is an extensive breakfast buffet adjacent to the indoor park and an à la carte breakfast menu with scrumptious customized three-egg omelets we enjoyed on the last day of our stay.

The Wisconsin Dell property does have a relatively modest gym, which is wonderfully empty to work out in, as well as a spa for parents to spend a few hours relaxing in away from the kids.

 

Family stay at the Kalahari Resort ,Wisconsin Dells eateries

 

Autism Travel Tips

  1. The air-conditioning in the room didn’t work well when we first checked in, and it shorted a few hours into our stay. It took maintenance quite a couple of tries to get it fixed and once they did it was way too loud to keep on an entire night so sleeping through the evening was difficult for our son with autism since it was unpleasantly hot in the room.
  2. Make sure you bring an anti-slip mat for the bathroom, as there is none supplied as well as a nightlight as the room can get quite dark at night without it.
  3. If your child is noise sensitive, ask for a room away from the both water parks.

 

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