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Friday Family Hotel News

December 14th, 2012

Family Vacation Critic receives a lot of interesting news about hotels that we’d love to share with you. Visit us every Friday to find exciting news about hotels in your favorite destinations.

Hilton Opens First All-Inclusive Resort in Mexico
Families love all-inclusive (makes it easier for us to budget and not have to say “no” at every turn) and now Hilton is entering Mexico‘s all-inclusive market with its new Hilton Puerto Vallarta Resort. The beachfront hotel offers 259 rooms and suites, as well as onsite dining with an international buffet and a French and Brazilian restaurant. Amenities include pools, a kids’ club and a spa. Rates will range from $180 to $350 per person, per night.

Warwick International Acquires Paradise Island Harbor Resort
Warwick International Hotels has acquired the 250-room Paradise Island Harbour Resort in the Bahamas. The resort will now be receiving a complete and extensive renovation, slated to begin in the latter part of 2013. The resort will remain open during the renovation.

Haunting Hotels with History

October 10th, 2012

My daughter is fascinated by the notion a hotel may have ghosts after overhearing a conversation about the Stanley Hotel in Colorado (of “The Shining” fame.) She has been begging me to take her to a hotel that claims to be haunted. Luckily, I received a list of four paranormal hotels that we just may have to check out together.

1. The Grove Park Inn in Asheville, N.C.
This property claims a ghost has roamed its halls for over half a century. She is referred to as the Pink Lady because of the flowing pink gown she wears. It is believed that this young woman was a guest in Room 545 in the 1920s and that she either jumped or was pushed to her death in the Main Inn’s Palm Court, five floors below. New reports of her sightings still occur, especially by young children. Some say they just see a pink mist, others a full apparition of a young long-haired beauty in a pink gown. I’ve stayed at the Grove Park Inn (a gorgeous hotel) but never saw the pink mist.

2. La Posada de Santa Fe in Santa Fe, N.M.
This hotel dates back to 1882 when Abraham Staab built it as a three-story Victorian mansion for his family. When Julia, Staab’s wife, died in 1896 at the age of 52, her presence continued to live on throughout the home. Today, the Staab House at La Posada de Santa Fe retains its original structure and is home to a cozy bar and Suite 100, which used to be Julia’s bedroom. To honor her, the hotel staff makes sure to invite her to parties held in the house and greet her when they enter her bedroom.

3. The Homestead in Hot Springs, Va.
One of the oldest resorts in America (built in 1766) has reports about the 14th floor in the resort’s oldest wing. As the story goes, in the early 1900s, a woman was set to be married at The Homestead but on the day of her wedding her husband-to-be ran out and never returned. The bride became so distraught that she took her own life. Now her spirit roams the 14th floor of the resort asking guests and staff for the time with hopes her groom will return. Whether or not you spot the bride, this historic resort is a must-visit.

4. Omni Mount Washington Resort in Bretton Woods, N.H.
This resort claims the ghost of Caroline Foster roams the property. Visions of an elegant woman in Victorian dress are often spotted in the hallways of the hotel, but perhaps the most common sighting of the beloved Caroline is in room 314, where guests report seeing the vision of the woman sitting at the edge of their guest bed.

–Lissa Poirot

Getting Away Together

February 16th, 2012

Have you had a chance to catch the new PBS series, Getting Away Together? The reality show focuses on a new group of travelers, friends and family, as they embark on a vacation together. The shows not only highlight the dynamics of traveling together, but the beauty of the places they visit, including Outer Banks, N.C., Hilton Head, S.C., and Kissimmee, Fla. Groups stay in vacation rentals during their travels, and visit historic sites, theme parks, and more.

The show is looking for families and groups of 4 to 10 people for upcoming episodes. If you are interested in traveling and have a great story and destination in mind, the producers want to hear from you! Who knows? Maybe your family’s vacation can become an episode!

For casting, visit the show’s website. Click here to find local airtimes.

–Lissa Poirot

Breakfast with the Animals in Baltimore

February 1st, 2012

The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore is bringing back its popular Breakfast with the Animals series, a VIP experience that lets guests get up close and personal with their favorite animals. The series includes a one-of-a-kind al fresco dining experience next to zoo animals of your choice, special keeper chats, education stations, unlimited photo ops and a gift.

The lineup includes:

• Breakfast with Polar Bears, March 24 and November 3
• Breakfast with the Penguins, April 12, July 6 and 7 and September 8
• Breakfast with the Elephants, April 28 and August 10 and 11
• Breakfast with the Giraffes, May 12 and July 21
• Breakfast with the Chimps, June 16 and September 22
• Breakfast in Africa (Zebras, Rhinos, Ostriches), June 23 and August 25

Tickets to the event also include general admission so your family can enjoy the entire zoo after breakfast is complete. Tickets are $55 for members and $65 for non-members. Children 2 and under are free but still require a ticket.

If you’ll be visiting Baltimore this year, this definitely is a unique experience for the kids! Find family-friendly hotels in the area at Baltimore Family Resorts and Hotels.

–Lissa Poirot

5 Spring Music Festivals in New Orleans

January 27th, 2012

The New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau wants you and your family to put on your dancing shoes for an exciting music-filled spring in the Big Easy at one of its five best music festivals.

1. Big Easy Blues Festival
February 11 kicks off the festival season with the 5th annual, one-night event featuring Southern Blues bands and musicians.

2. Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series
Marathoners descend upon New Orleans on March 4 for their big run benefitting the American Cancer Society, and they’ll encounter a band at every mile. Spectators can also enjoy the music, including jazz, blues, soul and rock and hit the Finish Line Festival for the headliner fun.

3. Foburg: A Music Festival
As alternative rock bands pass through the south en route to the SXSW Music Festival in Austin, Texas, they’ll make a three-stop at the Foburg festival. More than 200 bands will perform in 20 venues across the Faubourg Marigny neighborhood.

4. French Quarter Festival
April 12 through 15 bring the largest free music event to the city with live performances occurring on stages across the famous French Quarter.

5. New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival
The granddaddy of all the music festivals is the renowned Jazz Fest, taking place April 27 through May 6. More than 100 performers will be on hand, including The Beach Boys, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, and Bonnie Raitt.

To find a family-friendly hotel in the Big Easy, visit New Orleans Family Resorts and Hotels. Read more about New Orleans and what it offers for family vacations, and learn about more family-friendly music festivals in 8 Excellent Music Festivals for Families, which features the New Orleans Jazz Fest.

–Lissa Poirot

Star Wars Extreme Sleepover

January 26th, 2012

My son is a huge Star Wars fan — it doesn’t matter that the movies first came out decades before he was even born. Granted, he’s more a fan of the newer films and I did have to sit him down for a Star Wars movie marathon in order to explain to him who Luke, Leia and Han were, but he’s a fan. It’s a fun passion we can share together and he loves that his mom is a Star Wars geek.

That said, this one is for all the parents with Star Wars-loving kids!

As Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace debuts in 3D in theaters next month, Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Odditorium in New York’s Times Square is hosting an epic, space-themed sleepover. On February 10, join the Star Wars Extreme Sleepover that will include a character meet and greet, Ripley’s Impossible LaseRace, Yoda mask making, Wookie cookie decorating and more. Jedi Warriors and Stormtroopers can also explore Ripley’s 18,000-square-foot “Odditorium” filled with oddities, artifacts and interactive exhibits during the event. Fans are encouraged to attend dressed as their favorite character.

Admission is $145 per person and also includes pizza dinner, snacks and breakfast at Applebees, a Ripley’s scavenger hunt, gift bag, games and prizes throughout the night. A portion of proceeds will go to Brooklyn-based non-profit Puppetry Arts.

One adult is required to attend with up to four children, who must be 6 and up. The sleepover begins at 7 p.m. on Friday, February 10, and ends at 8 a.m. the next morning.

Visit Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Times Square to book.

–Lissa Poirot