Taking the Kids and Opting For a Small Boutique Hotel
Hotel Monaco, Seattle
Ready to play dress up?
If you stay in the kids' suite at the
At the Diva, one of the local Personality Hotels (www.personalityhotels.com), there are games, puzzles and an assortment of kids' movies. And kids sleep in bunk beds while parents sleep in a separate room attached by a hall. Older kids simply like the ambiance of the sleek hotel -- glass wall, stainless steel headboards, bright blue carpet -- complete with a sidewalk-of-fame featuring signatures of celebrity guests.
"Funky," declared 16-year-old
Across the country, such small unique hotels are gaining a following among families who appreciate the intimate atmosphere, the service and the fact that they have, well, more personality than big chain hotels. Small hotels don't necessarily cost any more and in some cases they cost less.
"I really like the personal attention I get," said
Boutique hotels, for their part, are responding to this enthusiasm with more family packages and amenities -- from kids' digital cameras with some packages at NYC's Affinia Hotels (www.affinia.com) to a personalized itinerary created for you at the
This summer, opt for a kid-friendly bed & breakfast or inn and you might even get a free tank of gas. Nearly 300 have banded together to help ease the sticker shock at the gas pump with a "B&Bs kick gas" campaign (www.betterwaytostay.com).
You'll also see a growing number of packages that will include admission to area museums, bike rental shops and even whale-watching excursions (www.bassrocksoceaninn.com). "Absolutely families are an important market for us," said
Kimpton Hotels (www.kimptonhotels.com), which has 52 properties around the country, making it the largest group of boutique hotels in the country, has responded with a company-wide Kimpton Kids program and an array of family packages and amenities at its city hotels aimed at helping families (and their pooches -- the hotels are all dog-friendly) to get out and explore, explains
Leondakis believes it has only been in the past few years that families have embraced boutique hotels, as they recognize what these places have to offer -- at Kimpton, for example, free Wi-Fi, free use of the fitness club, afternoon wine (and juice) receptions and baby accoutrements at a price that is comparable, or in some cases less than big chain hotels. Because the hotels are smaller, families feel more comfortable letting even 10-year-olds go up to the room on their own. But most important, she explains, "They are looking for a unique experience and we have gone to great lengths to make it easy to bring kids."
Even small all-inclusives that don't offer kids' programs are increasingly popular with families, like the 88-room
Even better, the wine reception in the living room-like lounge encourages guests to chat and trade travel tips, as does the complimentary coffee in the morning. I pet a guest's dog and talk about my own back home. The front desk clerk greets me by name.
"You just don't get that with some big box hotel chains." said Kimpton fan
And when you're away from home with the kids that counts for a lot.
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(c) 2011 EILEEN OGINTZ DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES, INC.
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