Monday, March 18, 2013

Hotel Suites

Being veterans of the whole "road tripping with a very young child" thing, we've learned something. It's best for everyone involved - parents, child, every other person in the hotel, etc. - if Marla gets her own separate room, with a closeable door separating her from us. Otherwise, she won't go to sleep until we go to sleep. This wasn't necessarily true when she was younger than six months, but now it is definitely the case.

Obviously, this is a little tricky with it comes to hotels. Most standard hotel rooms are just one room. Even many "suites" don't have closeable doors inside the room. Apparently, the word "suite" doesn't mean what it used to.

So, when it comes to planning for our Colorado trip in May, we decided that every single hotel room we get throughout the trip would have at least two separate areas - one for Marla to sleep in, and one for us to sleep in, with a closeable door separating the two. I've gotten tricked by the whole "suite" thing before (thanks, Comfort Suites), so I decided to do more research this time.

First off, if a hotel reservation lists a "studio suite", then stay away! These "suites" - like what you'll typically find in a Comfort Suites - are just a little bigger and have a few extra pieces of furniture, such as an extra desk or a sofa, and may have a small kitchen. But what they won't have are separate closed-off sleeping areas. That little wall divider between the sofa and the bed is hardly sufficient.

So, basically, here's what I've learned. "Studio suite": no. "One bedroom suite": yes, although it helps to find a floor plan on the hotel website if you can.

If we had more money, then this would be easy: we'd just stay in a Residence Inn every single night! Of all the "nice" hotels that are out there, Residence Inn is the only one in which the rooms themselves are significantly better. Most 4- and 5-star hotels that I've stayed in (never my choice) just have extra services and amenities elsewhere in the building, while the rooms themselves aren't really that much different than the rooms at the half-price Super 8 just down the street. But I've always been extremely satisfied with my Residence Inn stays. Unfortunately, yes, they are expensive (usually in the $150 to $200/night range), and as such, out of all the road trips Amber and I have done, we've only stayed in a Residence Inn once: our wedding night.

For the Colorado trip, I had a reasonable amount of luck finding "one bedroom suite" accomodations in the $100 to $150 range. And so for this trip, instead of the usual Sleep Inns and Super 8s, it'll be Staybridge Suites, Candlewood Suites, and Embassy Suites. This will add about $500 to our total trip bill, but such is the cost of vacationing these days. It'll be worth it.

This is also why the Amber/Marla fly home + I drive home plan is reasonably cost effective. Even though we save nothing on gas doing this, we'll save on hotels, because when it's just me on the road, I obviously don't need to spend "one bedroom suite" money on a hotel. That should save us at least $100 on hotels over the course of those two nights, as opposed to if we had gotten two additional nights of "one bedroom suite" accomodations for the return trip. That won't cover the entire cost of the plane ticket, but it helps.

Another potential solution would be to book two normal rooms with an adjoining door between the two. If you can get two rooms for $50-75/night each, then this might actually be cheaper than the "one bedroom suite" option. But I don't think that's the kind of thing that you can always guarantee with a reservation. As in, "Oh, sorry, we weren't able to give you adjoining rooms, but we can give you two rooms across the hall from each other". That would be a deal-breaker, because I obviously wouldn't be comfortable leaving Marla alone in a completely separate hotel room across the hall from us. So, that's not an option we pursued. I actually don't know how common adjoining rooms are anymore. (Seems like most newer hotels don't have them.)

I guess you could say that by abandoning our usual hotel choices, we're all grown up now! But this is mostly out of necessity.

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