Mega-resorts may be heaven for kids, but they are exhausting for adults. There is no question that properties like this are a blast for some families. However, I think parents need to think about the overall experience they want to have on their vacation and review the resort amenities carefully to ensure they will not be disappointed, or, worse, return home stressed.
Based on past mega-resort experiences, I’ve outlined specifics to think about.
Peace and Quiet
It’s just like Vegas! Someone made this comment to me during a stay at one resort, and it was a true statement — there were so many people in every corner of the hotel that it was noisy everywhere. Of course, any pool area with kids is going to be loud; we want it that way so kids (ours included) can yell their hearts out and we can remain stress-free. That said, most parents desperately want to find other spaces that are peaceful. An adult-only pool area in addition to a family pool area solves this problem. I’ll never go to a mega-resort on the beach without this again.
The hassle factor is high at big properties simply because they occupy a huge footprint and it takes time to get from one end to the other. This is not relaxing, especially with kids who are dying to get to the beach and pool. And I’d hate to be a parent with a toddler who wants to get back to their room easily for naptime. Ask about any transportation logistics required between core public areas (like the pool, beach and/or restaurants) and the quoted guest room.
Swimming Pool Setup
The rush to get a good chair by the pool or beach is not unusual, even at smaller hotels. There are always “prized” seats that people will claim with books and towels early in the day. The issue for me is the number of umbrellas or seats with some kind of shade. Some properties have a small number of lounge chairs with umbrellas compared to the number of people by the pool. If you’re sun-sensitive, ask about the umbrella-to-chair ratio.
Food Quality and Price
Many beach hotels are in isolated locations where you are stuck eating there unless you are willing to drive a significant distance. Quality and price can be an issue, and at many upscale properties, decent dinners are expensive ($30-50 for an a la carte entree). I’m OK with it in concept if the quality of the food and service is excellent, but that’s not always the case. If a hotel is in an isolated location, scan the Trip Advisor reviews for food quality and service comments prior to booking.
State of Guest Rooms
If a hotel has been around for more than a decade, guest rooms will need updates and renovations. When a property has vast numbers of rooms, this is an expensive undertaking. In an older property, always ask the hotel to confirm the renovation timeline for the specific room type you’ve been quoted; in a larger hotel, I’d ask them to confirm the specific building/wing they have available, as that can make a big difference.
TIP: The Families Should Know section for each property in the CB! Hotel Collection highlights what may be a con or caveat, depending on travel expectations and/or the ages of your kids. And when you use the Check Availability button to request pricing directly from the hotel, you can ask about additional details that are important and not included in the property review.
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Editor’s Note: Photos by Lisa Frederick.
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