Tag Archives: hotels

Family Travel: Savannah, Shrimp & Residence Inn… Oh My!

Being a big family has never kept us rooted at home. Given the opportunity, we pick up and go! Planes, trains and automobiles? We’ve done that. This summer we set out to explore the Gulf Coast. The adventure began with taking the kids, and even our car, along on the Amtrak Auto Train to Florida’s glimmering shores. Waving a fond farewell to Florida, we hit the road, landing in Savannah, Georgia.

If I had to use one word to sum up our stay in Savannah it would have to be, Magical.

To be honest, choosing to stay in Savannah was more a strategy than a burning desire to see the place before I die. The logic? The kids could only last a maximum of eight hours in the car before a hierarchy emerged and people started to be marked for elimination. Not good. So Savannah it was. Lucky for me -card carrying member of the Residence Moms Club- there were a few Residence Inns (RI) to choose from. Little did I know what amazing stay we’d have at the the RI Historic District.

From the moment we pulled up in front of the charming brick building -nestled amongst art museums, city trolley tour stops and historic landmarks- we were made to feel like family. A friendly valet welcomed us, helped with bags and made the kids giggle (a very “luxury property” touch). The desk staff got us checked in, in a jiffy, then gave us a mini tour of the property, from the fire pit crowning the sparking pool and courtyard, to the full dining area and bar, the place as an “Old South” feel and true Southern Hospitality.Obviously the kids loved the pool most of all. That and they Eggs Florentine, grits and fresh waffles at the free breakfast bar. My kids love to eat. I enjoyed having a full kitchen (hello, eating out with a family of 6 can break the bank) stocked with groceries that the RI staff picked up for me and had delivered to our room, swoon.

The staff were so much more than hospitality workers, they became our personal tour guides, recommending places the locals go to eat, indulging my obsession with Johnny Mercer and “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” and pointing us to an awesome dolphin tour. We got to see WILD baby dolphins!

My absolute favorite part of our visit to Savannah (other than the Shrimp and Grits at The Boar’s Head Grill and Tavern on the Riverwalk) was the afternoon we spent at Bonaventure Cemetery. Yes, I drug my kids into a cemetery as a family activity, don’t judge. In the visitor’s center, most people grab a map and go, in a rush to go find the Bird Girl. We lingered, and boy was it worth it. We met a lovely Southern Gentleman, a  member of the historical society and a treasure. He entertained us with an oral history of Savannah in a way no book or website could. We learned about the founding of the city, why the cemetery is laid out the way it is, how it was inclusive of several religions at a time when this was a rarity in the south. Some of the stories he told us were simply jaw-dropping. Like the one about his 200 year old obelisk that made it’s way into the Georgia soil all the way from France.

How did it end up in Bonaventure, and why? Well it was purchased by a local businessman who wanted to save the particular plot it resides on, for the day he meets his eternal rest. Where does one go to purchase a several ton marble obelisk from France? Why, eBay of course! True story.

Bonaventure was also the perfect place for me to hone my very-amateur photography skills.

From encounters with wild dolphins to a not-so-spooky walking ghost tour, amazing eats to quaint cobblestone streets, Savannah is a magical place imbued with true Southern hospitality, steeped in history and the perfect place for a family adventure!

 

Disclosure: Our stay at the Residence Inn in Savannah was compensated as part of my participation in the Residence Inn Moms Club. I was under no obligation to give this property a favorable review. As ALWAYS my opinions are my own. That said, you should stay at this property, words really can not describe how wonderful our stay was. 

Is “Family Friendly” a Luxury?

I spend a lot of time traveling with my family. Sometimes it’s a work gig they get to tag along for. Other times it’s a getaway. We’ve stayed in many a budget bungalow where the only stars you could find were on the free HBO. Most of the time the destination determined the digs. More often than not though, the biggest factor in choosing where we stayed was budget.

Don’t get me wrong, I love a fancy hotel. When you’re used to having to tuck everyone else in the joint in, read them a story, fetch endless glasses of water and chase off monsters from closets and corners, turn-down service is a welcome novelty. But as much as I like the luxury hotel experience it didn’t really fit into my family travel plans. Until, Omni.

My philosophy is, if you’re going to splurge on a topnotch hotel -with your family in tow- the hotel should be just as much of a destination as your actual destination is. Omni hotels have a knack for doing just that. From their Kid’s Fantasy suites, to Camp Omni, their Sensational Kids program to Teen Connect Omni makes your family a part of their family, ensuring that fun is had by ALL.

Being that my kids range in age from 18 to 6, making sure everyone has a blast is a tall order. Omni Hotels go out of their way to make sure that job is easier for me. My 13 year old daughter got to interview some of the staff at the Omni Berkshire this past Fall and put in her two cents about what tween/teens like at a hotel, as part of her participation in the Family Travel Conference. I was privileged to be hosted at the Berkshire during BlogHer 2012 last weekend. I got to see, first hand, some of the things she was excited about. With their new Teen Ambassador, David Strebel, on board to help take the program over the top, my family can’t wait to go back again, and again. Omni adds so much more to your family’s trip, it’s like destination in itself. An added luxury that is priceless.

 

 

 

 

 

Disclosure: Omni Berkshire New York hosted two of the three nights I stayed in conjunction with my trip to BlogHer 2012. AS ALWAYS, all opinions are my own. I have stayed at several Omni properties, own my own dime, and highly recommend them for families who travel.