I’ve been writing a lot of hotel reviews lately, and I’ve been traveling with my two kids for 14 years now. There are so many hotels and resorts out there that truly define “family friendly” with thoughtful room design, amenities, and programs. A few have really spoiled us, like the spacious Caribbean Club in Grand Cayman, and the grand-but-not-pretentious Hotel Hershey in Pennsylvania.
I wish I could convince hotel designers to think more like a parent when creating these spaces that need to serve as our home away from home. With furnishings and room amenities like these, I will remember a hotel, recommend it to my friends and family, and return in the future.
More storage solutions – Supply plenty of places for four or more people to put their stuff. Extra shelves in the bathroom, wall hooks for coats, retractable clotheslines for wet swimsuits, benches with space underneath for shoes, and platform beds with drawers. My kingdom for more than one luggage rack!
Standard child safety features – Kids are curious. They will try to open the door to the balcony, so please install a lock above their reach. Inexpensive outlet covers protect small fingers from electrocution. Plastic latches to keep drawers and cabinet doors securely closed are an added bonus.
A better night’s sleep – The cost to “rent” cribs and play yards should be included in the room rate, not added as an extra fee. Bunk beds create more space in guest rooms, as well as accommodate larger families. Privacy curtains minimize the sound and light between the adult and children’s sleeping areas.
Bathroom hacks — The ideal configuration for families provides includes a separated double sink and vanity area. But keep in mind that modern countertop heights make it difficult for small children to reach the faucet, tucking a step stool under the sink is a thoughtful addition. Save guests a call to housekeeping by providing at least four sets of towels.
In-room dining space – To keep our travel costs down, we bring in our own snacks and drinks, and depending on the property, make breakfast in our room. Kitchenettes are perfect, but even standard rooms should have a microwave and mini refrigerator. We also appreciate one or more lap desks to offer eating space in addition to the desk or end tables.
Easier access to technology – Families are traveling with multiple devices: phones, tablets, laptops, cameras. All four of us need WiFi, and we really don’t like to have to pay extra for it! We love to see charging stations with multiple outlets and USB ports so we don’t have to unpack the power strip. It’s also nice to have an alarm clocks with an iPod dock and a “white noise” option.
These are just the basics. Small niceties really make a property stand out in my memory, like coloring books presented at check-in, treats delivered to the room at bedtime, character dining, and a concierge who can tell me about nearby parks, playgrounds, and family-friendly restaurants.