Children would seem as though they are most welcome when you read the compendium and website. Truth is hotels are still lacking when it comes to the needs of families with young kids. Babies may be catered for but anything older is not.
Our room had two double beds, one chair for reading, a desk complete with chair and a television, wardrobe, and bar fridge. Does that sound like a room for a family?
If a hotel is going to the extent of offering you a ‘pillow menu’ why do they not apply the same thinking to family needs? The compendium offers cots, high chairs and all sorts of other services. But people with children under 12 months need fridge space for milk and baby food. They need a way to disinfect bottles. There is no microwave in the room and only a kettle. You could use a chlorine tablet but there is not a large bowl to do that.
Families with toddlers might need a side rail on their bed. They might also appreciate you removing the breakable decorative items from the room. My two year old still has a bottle and I had to request milk to be brought up by room service. One night that was perfectly fine and the next when it was busy we waited for 40 minutes! Toddlers don’t wait well!
Families need to feed their children. Downstairs in the buffet restaurant, it cost us $20 for our son to have 3 slices of toast with Vegemite as part of the buffet. Our other son wanted a banana and a yoghurt. I had to request a banana each day. For $20. After dinner, the desserts were ice-cream, chocolate mousse in a chocolate cup with m&m’s or cookies and milk. The cookies and milk arrived -$12 for a cup of frothed milk and 6 biscuits more suitable in an old person’s home than on a children’s menu. Oatmeal cookies might seem like a good idea because they’re low in sugar but they are not what kids want. The glace cherry cookies were not even acknowledged.
There is a hotel in Sydney that when you check in your room is prepared with a tent for the children with colouring books and other building toys. It’s amazing. Later in the year we are travelling to the US and our kids will receive a teddy bear and care basket upon arrival. Why are other hotels not doing the same thing?
I’m going out on a whim here, but hotels have business centres that are now generally unused with the increase of personal devices. There is often a room with a series of desks and ports. Occasionally a room that can be booked for meetings. Hotels – I challenge you. If you have families in regularly or increasingly. Wake up. Offer services to them. Remove your business centre and create a lounge area for families. If you are 5 star it is inexcusable not to. You have club floors. Offer a ‘mothers room’ area where there are child friendly snacks such as yoghurts, cheese and biscuits, rice crackers. Have the ability to sterilise bottles and warm milk. Instead of offering a pillow menu, offer to remove the standard minibar and replace it with family minibars. Or, have rooms that are designated family rooms with family minibars. Your revenue would rise. A family may not buy alcoholic minibar treats but trust me, if my kids see yoghurt, I’ll pay minibar prices to keep the peace.
You don’t need to put in a kids club but put in a games room where children can let off some steam outside of their rooms. I had to sit on the bathroom this weekend just past until Mr Two-year-old had fallen asleep. Lights and television on is too much stimulation to get him to sleep. What solution is there? Club floor rooms nearby to the club lounge with baby monitors? Rooms just down from the lounge area that have access to the rooms? Or is this too much like certain stories where small children go missing from rooms while parents eat dinner?
Place some colouring-in, activity books in the room/ lounge area. The cost is minimal to a hotel. Design a scavenger hunt where kids have to collect facts about the hotel throughout the different areas- if they manage to complete their hunt they are rewarded.
We are about to stay in hotels for two weeks in September-October where I may need to sit on the bath for two weeks to put one child to bed. Do I need to rethink my choice of accommodation?
Get some guard rails for beds (they cost $50 at Target) and offer these instead of choices of pillows. At the very least add a junior pillow to your list.
So, grand hotels, I challenge you to deliver to all your guests. I remind you that of the children are happy that’s more than half your job done. Parents always appreciate efforts made to their children’s comfort and enjoyment. Tell me about a hotel you’ve stayed at that catered for children in an outstanding way?