Family Fun at the Crowne Plaza Tel Aviv Beach Hotel

Family Fun at the Crowne Plaza Tel Aviv Beach Hotel pin

Centrally located at 145 Hayarkon street, the Crowne Plaza Tel Aviv Beach Hotel is the perfect place to make a home away from home. The hotel is comfortable, and the personnel was welcoming, friendly and helpful. We had a fantastic stay!Family Fun at the Crowne Plaza Tel Aviv Beach Hotel beach

What Makes it Family Worthy?

The Crowne Plaza Tel Aviv is located along what we call Hotel Row, as guests can find hotels all along the beach strip. The hotel is built on the Mediterranean beach, next to Tel Aviv Marina. Guests can go boating, fishing, windsurfing, or play volleyball close to the hotel. The hotel is also centrally located, within walking distance of the many markets, museums, retail outlets, and coffee shops of Tel Aviv. Travelers are only a ten-minute drive away from main shopping streets, Dizengoff and Nahalat Benyamin. Finally, the hotel is not far from the ancient port city of Jaffa.

Family Fun at the Crowne Plaza Tel Aviv Beach Hotel sky

This hotel is ideal for businessmen , locals and tourists alike. They have a strict policy of not allowing anyone under 18 to walk around without adult supervision. This fact is ideal for the gym, indoor and outdoor pools and other public areas in the building.

Hotel Decor

The furnishings and trimmings in the hotel were tasteful and modern, complementing the natural focus of the design to the natural surroundings of the sun, sand, and sea. With a combination of fresh flowers and foliage, there was attention to detail in the public areas as well as the rooms – each of which boasted a sea view.

A fun little feature we liked was that each elevator had a theme and digital screen. As the elevator moves, guests could watch themselves going up and down either an aquarium scene or the solar system.

Family Fun at the Crowne Plaza Tel Aviv Beach Hotel juice

Our Room

The hotel upgraded us to a spacious Executive Suite in room 1309, situated close to the exit which we prefer in the event of an emergency.

Family Fun at the Crowne Plaza Tel Aviv Beach Hotel fridge

The decor in the room was simple and modern, much like the rest of the hotel. Our room had tan carpeting and cream walls with lots of dark brown and black furnishings.

We had a large comfortable king sized bed. There were plenty of night lights providing adequate lighting on the side tables that also featured deep drawers.

Family Fun at the Crowne Plaza Tel Aviv Beach Hotel bed

Over the window, we had a double curtain so we could block out the bright early morning light if we wanted to sleep in later. The view of the Mediterranean beach from the windows and the small balcony was stunning!

Our room featured a sizable black office desk with an Apple computer provided, which would come in handy for those who don’t have their own laptops. There were ample power outlets throughout the room for charging gadgets. An unexpected bonus we found was the fact that the safe, which was large enough to store a laptop, had its own power outlet!

Family Fun at the Crowne Plaza Tel Aviv Beach Hotel lamp

The closet felt as big as a whole room, with deep shelving and drawers, a luggage rack, mirror, hanging space, and even an ironing board. We saw complimentary drinking water and mints in the room as well as a surcharge mini-bar fridge with snacks and chocolates. Everything in the room was well thought out, and all needs were taken into consideration.

Our Bathroom

Much like the rest of the room, the bathroom featured modern, basic furnishings. Our bathroom had white and soft green walls with a white topped black counter. The counter had a lot of space and came equipped with a useful magnifying mirror, hairdryer, a Dead Sea mineral gift set as well as a disposable sewing kit, makeup remover, and shower cap.

Family Fun at the Crowne Plaza Tel Aviv Beach Hotel sink

We liked that the shower had both an overhead showerhead as well as a hand-held attachment.We were happy to see an extendable and retractable cord for hanging up damp towels or swimming gear – helpful and lacking in other hotels. The water pressure was strong which was remarkable for being so high up in the building.

The Breakfast Buffet

The buffet breakfast was elaborate and a highlight of the day. We had our breakfast in the dining room with a stunning view of the beachfront.

Family Fun at the Crowne Plaza Tel Aviv Beach Hotel fish

In the breakfast buffet, we saw fridges full of different yogurts and drinks. There was also a selection of hot and cold cereals near the fridges.

We found pancakes, pizza, and other warmed pastries at the chef station. However, the omelets made to order station proved the most popular.

Family Fun at the Crowne Plaza Tel Aviv Beach Hotel dishes

As diners move through the buffet, they will find cheese-stuffed pastries called bourekas. We also saw cheesecakes, kugel dishes, and traditional shakshuka, which were eggs poached in a spicy tomato sauce.

Guests could build their own salad with a variety of roasted or raw vegetables and dressings. There was also an assortment of white and yellow cheeses, both local and international, including a yogurt-based cheese called labneh.

Family Fun at the Crowne Plaza Tel Aviv Beach Hotel plate

For those who like fish, along with salmon and herring there was even sushi!

Diners with a sweet tooth could enjoy the dessert table, where there are cut up fresh fruits as well as dried fruits, jellies, halva, marble cakes, muffins and even sugar-free cake options.Guests could enjoy a selection of fresh fruit juices, teas or coffees. There was even a traditional rosewater dessert drink called Sahlab, which means orchid in Hebrew and Arabic.

Family Fun at the Crowne Plaza Tel Aviv Beach Hotel sushi

All of these great foods could be eaten with a huge selection of bread, pastries, croissants and rolls, crackers and rice cakes.

Shabbat Lunch Buffet

The Saturday afternoon meal was beautifully prepared before sunset on Friday evening and served in the main dining room overlooking the Mediterranean.

The Saturday meals were different than other days of the week because, to maintain the kosher laws, everything had to be prepared before the Shabbat began and kept either cold or hot, with no further cooking done at all.

Family Fun at the Crowne Plaza Tel Aviv Beach Hotel bowl

The menu was full, and the options were endless. We enjoyed roasted vegetables, rice, bulgur wheat, chicken dishes, and even huevos haminados or long-boiled eggs. We tried the Hamin, a traditional peasant stew cooked for many hours, and were not disappointed.

The desserts were all non-dairy to maintain the kosher element of the meal. There was no way anybody could leave this buffet hungry or dissatisfied!

Family Fun at the Crowne Plaza Tel Aviv Beach Hotel buffet

Amenities

One of the things we particularly liked was the fact the hotel had an excellent 24-hour laundry service. Another unique amenity this hotel offered was their free shuttle running every two hours to and from the Azrieli Shopping Mall and sister property The Crowne Plaza City Center.

Family Fun at the Crowne Plaza Tel Aviv Beach Hotel pool

The hotel had an onsite fitness center featuring essential equipment like a stair-stepper and stationary bike. Families who like swimming could enjoy either the indoor or outdoor pool, and the outdoor pool was heated.

Executive Lounge

While we stayed, we got to check out their Executive Lounge. We were not disappointed with all that the lounge had to offer.

Family Fun at the Crowne Plaza Tel Aviv Beach Hotel lounge

The hotel kept this lounge open early morning until late evening. They had plentiful offerings for the morning buffet and their happy hour as well as excellent snacks during the midday. We got to enjoy little dessert delights like macaroons as well as coffee from a turn of the century holder.Family Fun at the Crowne Plaza Tel Aviv Beach Hotel bar

Of course, this was yet another part of the hotel showcasing beautiful views of the beach, although the view felt much more personal and relaxing than in the dining hall. The staff at the Executive Lounge was incredibly helpful and friendly, especially towards our son with autism.

Family Fun at the Crowne Plaza Tel Aviv Beach Hotel treat

Cost

Pricing starts at $180 and includes free wifi as well as access to the amenities mentioned above. Self-parking on-site is $20 daily.

Family Fun at the Crowne Plaza Tel Aviv Beach Hotel sunset

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Parents should remember that this is a mostly business hotel and the rooms reflect this fact.
  • Parents of escape artist children will want to take the necessary precautions. They can make use of the double lock for the room and balcony, or ask housekeeping to remove the handle on the balcony door.
  • Families should bring their own bathmats for the tub.
  • Extra beds are not available in the rooms, as this is more of a business hotel than a family hotel.
  • The staff was autism friendly and understanding, so parents can always ask the staff for any questions they have or anything they require.

 

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.

 

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.

How to Spend the First Ten Minutes in your Hotel Room

 

How to Spend the first 10 minutes in your hotel room pin

Like so many others, when we first started traveling as a family, the first thing we would do after checking into our hotel was we tossed our suitcases in our room and left. We never gave a second thought to checking anything in the room. However, after multiple mishaps, some literally in the middle of the night, we learned that if we wanted to experience a pleasant and uneventful stay, we should dedicate the first ten minutes after entering our hotel room to checking the following:

Hotel Room Balcony Lock

I usually advise families with young children to avoid, for safety reasons, booking hotel rooms with balconies. If that’s not a possibility, then do check to make sure the lock works well. You don’t want to be stuck on either side.

How to Spend the first 10 minutes in your hotel room chair

Room Fireplace

Booking a room with a fireplace though romantic as it may sound to some is also on my no-no list when traveling with kids.However, if your booked room has one, make sure to ask the hotel for a proper fireplace cover, and ask them how to disable the system if it operates on gas to prevent any mishaps.

The Air-Conditioning

Our son with autism is extremely temperature-sensitive, so five degrees up or down can make a big difference for him. Therefore, one of the things we make sure to learn is how to change settings and turn the mechanisms on and off. We also crank the system up if it isn’t on already and check to make sure it not only works well but stays on since we’ve had two cases where the system short-circuited after several minutes and left the room hot and stuffy in the middle of the night.

How to Spend the first 10 minutes in your hotel room blue

 Plumbing

There’s nothing quite like a toilet or tub that backs up when you flush the water down or turn on the shower in the middle of the night. We’ve had times when we discovered plumbing problems when we returned to our hotel after an exhausting day and had to sit and wait for maintenance to show up and repair these things.

While I’m addressing the subject of water; it’s best to check and make sure the shower, faucets, and toilet aren’t dripping, since the sound can be quite annoying when you are trying to sleep, especially if anyone in your family is noise sensitive.

How to Spend the first 10 minutes in your hotel room bathroom

The TV

I know this might not be an issue that would come to the minds of many travelers. However, it can and will be a big deal to families with children, especially those who have children with autism. My son needs his daily Nickelodeon or Disney fix, so unless I prepare him in advance to the fact that the hotel network does not have these channels, he expects to be able to watch them and might have a meltdown if he won’t be able to.

How to Spend the first 10 minutes in your hotel room tv

Bed Bugs

In today’s world, bed bug infestations are much more commonplace than you might think.
It is critical to check your room for bed bugs before unpacking anything, as travelers who pick up bed bugs usually have to throw out the infested items. If you want to avoid bites and the possibility of bringing unwanted ‘souvenirs’ back home, lift up the bed mattress and check its corners for telltale black dots or tiny blood stains.
Also, you should always keep your suitcases on a rack since bedbugs find it harder to reach or climb certain surfaces. If you do find bed bugs, be sure to report the infestation to the hotel staff. You should demand a room change or receive a refund from the hotel.

How to Spend the first 10 minutes in your hotel room end

The Nearest Exit

Make sure you read the exit map posted on the back of your room door and furthermore, teach your children the location of the nearest stairs to use, in the case of a fire. If you have the time, take an extra five minutes and walk to the nearest exit with them, so they know where it is.

How to Spend the first 10 minutes in your hotel room grass

Do you check your hotel room when you first arrive? What do you check for?

Canadian Hospitality at the Pinnacle Hotel

Experiencing Canadian Hospitality at the Pinnacle Hotel Vancouver pin

If you ever want to visit Vancouver, Canada, there’s a lot of possible hotel options. If you’re looking for a hotel that offers a great location and beautiful views, then the Pinnacle Hotel (formerly the Renaissance Vancouver) is one place you should consider. The Pinnacle Hotel is a well-fitted hotel with many family friendly options.

The Pinnacle Hotel, a four-star property, is located at 1133 West Hastings Street in Vancouver. A member of the Marriott brand it features approximately 442 rooms. The hotel boasts beautiful views of the harbor along with conveniently located close to Vancouver’s landmarks.

What Makes it Family Worthy?

The building is situated about ten minutes away from the harbor area where there are some shops and restaurants. The hotel is in the same neighborhood as the Convention Center, but the Vancouver Aquarium and Stanley Park are also within driving distance.
At night, Vancouver’s business district grows quiet but remains well-lit and beautiful so walking back to the hotel is a pleasant experience and travelers are assured a peaceful night’s rest. The hotel offers free wifi and one child per family can stay in the hotel rooms free of charge. The hotel is also “pet-friendly,” meaning travelers are allowed to bring their pet for an extra fee.

Experiencing Canadian Hospitality at the Pinnacle Hotel Vancouver food

Arrival

At all the hotels we stay at, we ask for a quiet room and feather free pillows because of our son’ autism and allergies to feathers. We love the Marriott chain since it has always proven to be an autism-friendly company. The hotel staff respected our requests in this regard and put us in a  room at the end of the corridor to ensure a tranquil environment.
Upon our arrival, management sent up a little welcome gift which included pretzels, chips, and drinks.

Décor

The upstairs hallways outside our room were painted in bright hues, with equally eye-catching geometric patterns on the carpets. Most of the rooms, including ours, were decorated in warm, neutral tones with brightly colored accents.
The bathroom featured neutral colors, but it also had a strip of iridescent multicolored tile on the wall for embellishment. The black topped, wooden dresser and gleaming silver bathtub spigots helped round out the bathroom décor.

Experiencing Canadian Hospitality at the Pinnacle Hotel Vancouver bed

Rooms

We stayed in the impeccably clean room on the fourteenth floor, number 1435. The incredibly comfortable beds had plentiful pillows and silky sheets. We found the beds to be much bigger than the average double beds we are accustomed to.
The room additionally had a small sofa and a rollaway bed. Although the closets were standard size, there were nonetheless plenty of dressers and additional places to store our luggage. There was a nicely sized safe in the closet that could easily hold a 13″ laptop, which was a pleasant surprise for us as we travel with multiple devices. The room further contained a mini fridge, a work desk, and a large, flatscreen television.

As was the case with the closets, the bathroom was fairly standard but completely functional.The bathroom was small with the tub, toilet and sink all next to each other but included a grab bar and a bath mat! The decor was basic in beige tones accompanied by a few fun touches like the rainbow tiling on the bathtub wall.The amenity kit included shampoo, soap, and conditioner.

We did, in fact, see the magnificent views from the balcony windows overlooking the harbor area. We could see the nearby water and ships without obstruction, other than another hotel at some distance away, which didn’t affect the beautiful scenery.

Amenities

The hotel had an indoor pool, a gym, and an executive lounge area for guests. The breakfast served in the lounge was plentiful however guests could also order breakfast in the hotel restaurant if they wish.

The reception desk stayed open at all hours to better address the needs of those staying here.
.The friendly professional concierge staff at this location was well-versed in answering any questions about dining options and spots to entertain kids.

Dining

The hotel lobby featured the P2B, a fancy bistro, Hour menu and bar with dining options on the Vancouver waterfront. Here visitors can choose a  breakfast of smoked salmon on a bagel, eggs benedict, or blueberry pancakes. Other food items include crab cakes, prime rib dip, Atlantic lobster and BBQ baby back ribs. P2B haHour menu on weekdays from three to six pm which includes $5 food items like fish tacos. While their dishes were delicious, we discovered that P2B was on the pricier side.

Experiencing Canadian Hospitality at the Pinnacle Hotel Vancouver scene

Cost

Romm prices start at $250 a night. As mentioned before, patrons bringing their pets will have to pay an additional fee, usually around $25 for staying. 

Autism Travel Tips:

  • The bathroom tubs have safety grab bars, making it easier for disabled persons to get in and out of the tub without slipping. There is also a mat in the bottom of the bathtub to increase traction and keep people from falling when leaving the bath.
  • Be aware that, as a pet-friendly hotel, there is the possibility of having a neighbor with a pet. If this would be a problem for you due to allergies, let the staff know.
  • There are allergy-free accommodations available at this hotel so, if you need this service, don’t hesitate to ask!
  • The elevator areas are typically loud. Try to get a hotel room away from the elevators if someone in your party is sound sensitive.
  • Since there is a glass sliding door opening to the balcony, be advised they are easy to open. This fact can be a risk for children stepping outside and even leaning over the banister.
  • Bring your own nightlight since there is none provided.
  • There is a fixed shower head in the bathtub, so you can’t move it around to shower yourself or young family members.

 

Family Fun at the Memphis Peabody Hotel Brunch

The Memphis Peabody Hotel is a beautifully decorated remnant of the old south, with a full buffet and marching ducks. It is an experience enjoyable for all the family, where adults can enjoy the delicious food and even the youngest children can enjoy watching the ducks. 

In 1869, the original Peabody Hotel opened in Memphis, Tennessee; expanding and relocating 56 years later to its current location. Named for George Peabody, this hotel beautifully reflects the era, and it has earned a place in the National Trust for Historic Preservation – The Historic Hotels of America.

Family Fun at the Memphis Peabody Hotel Brunch tableLocation and Parking

Located at 149 Union Ave, Memphis, TN, the hotel is about 15 minutes from the Memphis International Airport and downtown. Its proximity to other Memphis landmarks makes it central and convenient. For a fee, there is both Valet parking on the premises and Self-Parking a block away from the hotel.

Decoration

Family Fun at the Memphis Peabody Hotel Brunch duck home

There is lavish décor through the lobby, and decorations are granite and marble in contrast with the more modest restaurant. It is spacious with tones of pale greens and tans, and the area feels warm and welcoming lending to the history and air of the old South.

 

Family Fun at the Memphis Peabody Hotel Brunch statue

Unique Traits

What makes The Peabody Hotel uniquely famous is its marching ducks. The ducks, five in number, live on the roof in a duck penthouse. Twice daily, these ducks take the elevator down to the lobby to march across the lawn at 11 am and 5 pm. The march is popular and attracts many visitors to the hotel especially the kids. Expect to call on the early side to catch a good seat on the floor near the ducks if you want to see them up close and personal. The marching duck tradition began 90 years ago, and many guests come to experience and take advantage of the Ducky Day Family package.

For fans of the web-footed quacking marchers, they will be happy to hear that the Peabody restaurant incidentally does not offer duck anywhere on the menu and has a lovely brunch on Sundays that locals and travelers enjoy.

Family Fun at the Memphis Peabody Hotel Brunch sleeping duck

Food

The brunch is catered by the Capriccio Grill between 11 am and 2:30 pm and you can make reservations online. The presentation of the delicious eats is a visual delight! It is elaborately laid out, and there are high standards in their meal preparation. From the breakfast items like cereals, muffins, cheese grits and sausage grits, eggs, breakfast potatoes to the more brunch and lunch items on the menu; it feels like a cozy diner. The salads are colorful; fresh vegetables and fruits whole or prepared and elegantly presented. A generous selection of bread, cheeses, cold cut meats and smoked fish is available. In the hot food section, there are other typical Southern cuisine items like Butternut squash ravioli, baby-back ribs, ratatouille, fried chicken, mixed vegetables and garlic butter shrimp. At the carvery, they have prime rib, calamari, and deep-fried ravioli. Finally, the dessert table is simply beautiful. The in-house chefs have prepared mousses, tarts, cakes, cookies, crème brûlée, croissants, cakes and even a hot chocolate pie.

Family Fun at the Memphis Peabody Hotel Brunch deli

Out of all the dishes offered what surprised us the most in a good way were the items dipped in chocolate at the dessert table such as potato chips, pretzels, and bacon, which turned out to be a firm favorite.

Family Fun at the Memphis Peabody Hotel Brunch chocolate

The staff was incredibly friendly and replenished our drinks in a timely manner. They regularly cleared the used dishes to make room for the new dishes filled with food offerings.

 

Autism Travel Tips:

  • If you don’t want to wait in line, then book to come later after 1:30 pm. This is best for those that prefer avoiding crowded places.
  • Seating is comfortable with the tables relatively far from each other, so customers don’t feel cramped.
  • The lighting in the area is a combination of natural and artificial, and the noise element is lower as the tables aren’t too close to each other.Family Fun at the Memphis Peabody Hotel Brunch lobby
  • Since brunch tends to be a longer experience, antsy kids can get coloring books, or parents can bring tablets. Our son found the lobby self-playing piano fun and spent quite a bit of time watching it.
  • As the food is served buffet-style, most diets can be accommodated. However, if you travel with someone with severe allergies to any ingredients make sure you ask the server about it before you dine.

Family Fun at the Memphis Peabody Hotel Brunch pin

 

How Families with Autism Can Benefit from Using Hotel Chains

 

How families with autism can benefit from using hotel chains pin

Hotel chains do not immediately appear to the average family as the most comfortable or budget friendly option. But staying in chain hotels carries unexpected benefits for families, especially those with a family member with autism. Here are the four benefits my family and I see for other families with autism staying in chain hotels.

Familiarity

Though the similar looking rooms in each different location may look uninteresting to some patrons, this might be a selling point to families traveling with autism. Guests with autism can get used to the visual layout of the room. Family members with autism can feel more relaxed and at home with the usual amenities like the same brand soap, slippers, and even TV channels. Some chains even have the same smells sprayed in their lobby and use the same amenity kits companies for their bathrooms. These little things can help ease the stress of staying away from home, especially for kids with autism.

Why Staying in Chain Hotels is Helpful for Families with Autism hall

Accruing Points Leads to More Free Stays

If you stay loyal to one or two major chains, you are on your way to earning free night stays and status building with the companies. By earning points, travelers can get freebies like Wi-Fi, water in the room, and access to the executive lounge. These little perks can add up so that you and your family can afford to travel more frequently.

Since these hotel chains make note of your preferences on your profile web page that can make your family’s stay more comfortable. For special needs families, this is especially useful. The chain keeps track, worldwide, of special requests, like feather-free bedding, quiet rooms away from elevators, and food allergies.

Why Staying in Chain Hotels is Helpful for Families with Autism chairs

Your Complaints Carry Weight

In today’s travel world where customer service is scaled down, this is an extra bonus. As a loyal patron with status, the company will listen, care, and try to correct whatever is wrong faster. Legally, the hotel companies can’t ask customers what their special needs are. Therefore, it is up to you to be proactive and let them know about your needs and how they can accommodate your family.

Our advice is to write a list of what your child is sensitive to and what they require to help make them feel comfortable in a new setting so you can relay this to the staff. After over a decade of travel, our favorite chains for special needs accommodations are Marriot, SPG, Fairmont, and Sofitel.

Why Staying in Chain Hotels is Helpful for Families with Autism beds

The Marriott chain boasts a great model that other hotel chains should follow. The company has a special accessibility desk that families can be transferred to and speak with after making their reservation. Patrons can tell the staff member what exact accommodations their family requires, and they will note them on the reservation and even contact the property to make sure they are followed. This way the chain can address personal preferences such as air room purifiers, allergen free, feather free, and chemical free special needs.

The Fairmont hotel chain also offers chemical-free rooms. However, it is up to each of their properties to deal with traveling family requests individually. They do offer pet-friendly or pet-free rooms by request. The chain has also expanded, in the past few years, their gluten free options in most of their properties.

Why Staying in Chain Hotels is Helpful for Families with Autism bath

Welcoming Service Animals

Under the 1990 ADA public access law, hotels must allow service animals. Hotels also cannot charge a direct pet fee for the stay. However, many places do charge a fee for cleaning up after the pet. For families traveling with service dogs, it is helpful to request a room close to the lobby area. This way, owners can easily go outside for potty breaks. Families with noise sensitive kids can bring an artificial patch of grass to put in the room’s bathroom instead.

Some hotel chains, like SPG and Fairmont, go out of their way to make service dogs extra welcome by pampering them with special beds, treats, and even freshly prepared meals to order.

In Summation

The main issue to remember when searching for a chain to accommodate your special needs traveler is to communicate your concerns and requests to the chain representative and the hotel staff. It never hurts to ask for any accommodations you may require. Often the hotel representatives will go out of their way to help you. It is important for parents to remember that by finding a hotel chain that fits your family needs, and sticking with one or two hotel chains when possible, will go a long way towards creating stability and familiarity for your child with autism and help them enjoy their travels better.

It is important for parents to remember that finding one or two hotel chain that fits your family needs, and staying with them frequently, will promote stability and familiarity for your child with autism and help them enjoy their travels better.

Why Staying in Chain Hotels is Helpful for Families with Autism sweep

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