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How to Find the Right Hotel For Your Family

Tips and tricks for finding a hotel that best suits your family's needs

Call your hotel directly to ask questions before you book, rather than relying on the hotel chain's Web site or national toll-free phone number. That way you can speak to someone who is actually at the hotel where you'll be staying and who can answer some pertinent questions:

  • Are you running any specials now? What is your best rate?
  • Is there a suite available? (That way, you won't have to sit in the bathroom to talk after the kids go to bed.)
  • Is there a restaurant in the hotel or nearby? What are its hours?
  • Does the hotel have on-site or valet parking? An elevator? A concierge? A swimming pool?
  • Is there a tub in the bathroom?
  • Are there minirefrigerators in the room? Is a DVD player or VCR available?
  • Is a crib available? How old is it? (See "Crib Notes," below.) Can staff set it up in advance, and are linens included?
  • Will hotel staff sterilize bottles for me? (Many do, without a fuss.)
  • How far is the nearest drugstore, and what are its hours?

Crib Notes
Family travel is taxing enough without having to worry about whether a hotel crib is safe. Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, owner of the Westin and Sheraton chains, gets a gold star for their crib accommodations.

Five years ago, Westin unveiled The Heavenly Crib, designed for baby comfort and exceeding U.S. safety regulations. Sheraton followed with their plush and safe crib called the Sweet Sleeper.

Chainwide standardization is a big deal. "You go to a typical hotel and there might be four cribs, all 12 years old, down in the housekeeping room," says Kyle McCarthy, editor-in-chief of the online Family Travel Forum. "They keep them clean, but over the years maybe crib standards have changed." Indeed, in 2000 the National Safe Kids Campaign found unsafe cribs in 82 percent of hotels and motels it visited.

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CeReality: 5 Families, 5 Stories, 1 Critical Meal

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