All Ages

Splurge vs. Steal: Hotels for Every Family Budget

See recent posts by Hilarey Wojtowicz

Popular vacation destinations offer plenty of family-friendly hotels, but often at a hefty price. Sure, you can easily splurge with a stay in a penthouse suite, complete with a private butler. But you can also save with a standard guestroom and reap plenty of rewards. Pick your price range in one of these vacation destinations.

Eloise Suite at Plaza Hotel

New York City

Splurge: The Plaza Hotel
Think classic New York City charm mixed with a little state-of-the-art technology and a lot of square footage at The Plaza Hotel — rooms range from 550 to 4,490 square feet. Whether you book a Deluxe Room or the Royal Plaza Suite, your family will feel like celebrities overlooking the city. All rooms come with 24-carat gold plated fixtures and mini-bars, too. Enter from a private elevator and overlook Fifth Avenue and Central Park in the Royal Suite that sleeps up to six. Enjoy three bedrooms, 3.5 bathrooms, a separate kitchen, living and dining room, plus complimentary butler service. The Plaza is also famous for its Eloise Suite!

Splurge-Worthy Amenity: Rooms are outfitted with iPads that allow guests to control the lighting and temperature in guestrooms. Plus, the iPads connect guests to a variety of hotel services, such as room service and dry cleaning.

Guestroom at Comfort Inn Times Square SouthSteal: Comfort Inn Times Square South
With a central location in the heart of Times Square, the Comfort Inn Times Square South has standard guestrooms with double beds or suites with separate living and sleeping areas. All are pet-friendly and come with flat-screen TVs and free Wi-Fi. Plus, all Comfort Inns — including this one — offer a daily complimentary breakfast. After filling up on waffles, eggs and bacon, walk to nearby attractions such as Bryant Park and Radio City Music Hall.

Bargain Bonus: Request a microwave and/or a mini-fridge for your room before you arrive — there’s no charge.

Fairmont Grand Del Mar Entrance

San Diego

Splurge: Fairmont Grand Del Mar
Guestrooms and suites range from 550 square feet to 4,500 square feet at the Fairmont Grand Del Mar in San Diego. Balconies, marble finishes, flat-screen TVs and pillowtop beds are among the features in guestrooms, which sleep up to four. But if you’re looking for space and lots of it, book the Brisa Villa. Hardwood floors, stone finishes, state-of-the-art technology, private terraces, 24-hour in-room dining… the list goes on and on. Guests who book this villa will receive exclusive amenities, too, such as complimentary in-room drinks and cocktails (replenished daily), free Wi-Fi, unlimited golf, unlimited access to the Explorers Kids’ Club and more.

Splurge-Worthy Amenity: At the Fairmont Grand Del Mar, guests receive complimentary transportation to anywhere within a 14-mile radius of the resort between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m. daily.

Pool at Econo Lodge Inn & Suites Near LEGOLANDSteal: Econo Lodge Inn and Suites Near LEGOLAND
Just outside of San Diego, Econo Lodge Inn & Suites Near LEGOLAND in Carlsbad offers rates from $69 per night. Rooms come with one king bed, two queen beds, or one king and a sofa bed. All have free Wi-Fi, a mini-fridge, microwave, coffeemaker and flat-screen TV. Plus, the Econo Lodge offers free continental breakfast daily and a swimming pool.

Bargain Bonus: The City of Carlsbad offers transportation to and from San Diego. Hop on the Coaster for an easy, inexpensive and scenic train trip into the city.

Exterior of The Ritz-Carlton Orlando Grande Lakes


Splurge: The Ritz-Carlton Orlando Grande Lakes
At the Ritz-Carlton in Orlando, every room comes with a personal balcony. Choose whether you want to wake up to the serene views of the lake or the green of the garden or golf course. Guestrooms and suites range from 480 to 2,645 square feet in size. The Royal Suite is at the top of the list with separate living, dining and sleeping areas and a private media room, too, with surround sound, soundproof walls and a 60-inch flat-screen TV. ‘Tweens and teens will love the three different pools, including the lazy-river pool at the JW Marriott hotel across the way.

Splurge-Worthy Amenity: The Ritz Kids program is one of the best there is, with welcome amenities like books, stuffed animals and snacks.

Exterior of Fairfield Inn Orlando Lake Buena VistaSteal: Fairfield Inn Orlando Lake Buena Vista
Save more by staying at the Fairfield Inn Orlando Lake Buena Vista in the Marriott Village. Each family suite is Hawaiian themed, with bunk beds for the kids — more room to spread out! The suites come with separate living and sleeping areas and free Wi-Fi. Plus, daily breakfast is complimentary to all guests. The hotel also has a heated, outdoor pool and a game room for kids.

Bargain Bonus: Guests of the Fairfield Inn Orlando Lake Buena Vista can enjoy transportation to and from Disney World for just $7 per person.


Turks and Caicos

Splurge: Amanyara
Escape to Amanyara, an exclusive, secluded beachfront resort on the Turks and Caicos Islands, where you’ll feel like a celebrity. Even Beyonce and Jay Z have vacationed here! Enjoy one of the beachfront pavilions or villas, which offer up to five bedrooms, with separate accommodations for a nanny. Rates include some snacks, drinks, and activities, including yoga, snorkeling and non-motorized water sports. Also included in the rates are private airport transfers, high-speed Wi-Fi and phone calls. A two-bedroom pool pavilion is recommended for families, with separate sleeping areas for parents and children, a large living and dining room and access to the pool right from the terrace. The resort also offers exclusive deals and specials, which include free breakfast, dinner and excursions.

Splurge-Worthy Amenity: Private airport transfers make getting to and from the resort easy. Plus, you get to pick what you listen to in the car on your ride over to the resort!

Balcony at Ocean Club WestSteal: Ocean Club West
Comfortable, spacious and with all the furnishings and amenities that make this your home-away-from-home, the Ocean Club West resort offers five suite-styles perfect for all families. Choose a studio suite or go for the three-bedroom suite — both come with a kitchenette, refrigerator, microwave, washer and dryer, flat-screen TVs and balconies. The resort is on the beach and guests can take advantage of complimentary beach chairs, towels and toys. Have a family meal or a date night at one of the five bars and restaurants. The overall feel of the Caribbean resort is relaxing and tranquil, and it won’t break the bank.

Bargain Bonus: Stay at the Ocean Club West and take advantage of all the amenities and facilities at the Ocean Club like the two pools and Water Play Total Adventure, which offers windsurfing, sailing, kayaking and paddle boarding lessons.

Aerial Photo of Reef Atlantis


Splurge: The Reef Atlantis
You’ll feel like you’re in an Upper East Side penthouse while at The Reef Atlantis in the Bahamas. The luxuriousness of the beachfront resort only gets better when you stay in the three-bedroom penthouse suite, which can sleep up 10 and comes with separate kitchen, dining, sleeping and living areas. The in-room washer and dryer will come in handy and the four balconies will allow you to take in every breathtaking sunset in the Bahamas. And when in need of something that isn’t in the suite, just ask your butler, who can help you 24 hours a day!

Splurge-Worthy Amenity: Guests can easily travel between each tower at the Atlantis Resort by taking the complimentary shuttle. This makes it easy to enjoy its beaches, pools and 141-acre Aquaventure water park.

Pool at Comfort Suites Paradise IslandSteal: Comfort Suites Paradise Island
The Comfort Suites Paradise Island is the place to stay for affordable accommodations in the Bahamas. Rooms sleep up to five, and come with flat-screen TVs, coffeemakers, free Wi-Fi, a mini-fridge and a microwave when requested in advance. There is an onsite pool and the hotel is located in the center of Paradise Island. Before you even start your day, get in a hearty breakfast — for free!

Bargain Bonus: This hotel is located next to Atlantis and guests of the Comfort Suites have complimentary access to all of the resort’s facilities and activities. Present your Comfort Suites ID card at the pool or beach booths at Atlantis and receive a wristband to start enjoying the beach, plus the resort’s pools, water park, river rides, spa, restaurants, lounges, casinos and clubs.

Suite at Four Seasons Las Vegas

Las Vegas

Splurge: Four Seasons Hotel Las Vegas
When you stay at the Four Seasons Hotel Las Vegas, your family will really feel glamorous. The Presidential Strip-View Suite is the largest (and most expensive) option you can choose. The 2,225-square-foot suite sleeps up to five and has wrap-around, floor-to-ceiling windows that allow you to see the entire Las Vegas Strip. Fit for high rollers, the suite comes with separate living, dining and kitchen areas, and is outfitted with flat-screen TVs and sound systems.

Splurge-Worthy Amenity: Guests of the Four Seasons Hotel Las Vegas also receive complete access to the adjacent Mandalay Bay Hotel — including the hotel’s pool, casino and restaurants.

Adventure Dome at Circus CircusSteal: Circus Circus
The price says it all — and from just $23 per night, Circus Circus offers families a lot too. Stay in one of the 3,770 guestrooms and enjoy free Wi-Fi and flat-screen TVs in rooms ranging from 351 to 434 square feet in size. Parents can gamble and then take the kids to the Adventuredome — the onsite amusement park that offers all-day ride passes starting from $19 for kids and $33 for adults! Circus Circus also offers budget-friendly dining options. Hit the buffet where children under 4 always eat free!

Bargain Bonus: Parents and kids can play together at Circus Circus at the Midway — an arcade that surrounds the stage where world-class circus acts are performed — for free.

Disney Fantasy


Splurge: Disney Cruise Line
Disney Cruise Line is family-friendly and luxurious — two traits not always paired together. Of the four ships — Dream, Fantasy, Magic and Wonder — the Disney Fantasy is top-of-the-line and traditionally more expensive than all other family-friendly cruise ships and lines. Choose destinations from the Bahamas and the Caribbean to Alaska and the Mediterranean. Cruises range from three nights long to 12 nights long. All ships offer spacious suites with verandahs that sleep up to seven, but the Fantasy offers 1,781 square feet in the Concierge Suite. All four ships offer spas, but families who cruise on the Fantasy can enjoy luxurious services at the Senses Spa and the Chill Youth Spa, where kids and teens can get facials, massages, body wraps, scrubs and manicures and pedicures, too. Enjoy character greetings, live shows, deck parties, kid-friendly dining options and more.

Splurge-Worthy Amenity: When cruising with Disney, guests headed to the Bahamas can enjoy Disney’s own 1,000-acre private island, Castaway Cay, with exclusive activities.

Carnival SunshineSteal: Carnival Cruise Line
Carnival Cruise Line is known for its “24 hours of fun,” with cruises ranging from three to 23 days in length, families can have fun for as long as they want! Rooms on Carnival Cruise Line ships range from interior staterooms to Cloud 9 Spa suites (on select ships) and offer both budget-friendly accommodations and luxurious, spacious suites. Carnival offers kids and teen clubs on all 23 of the brand’s ships, plus fun for adults. Club Ocean, for children ages 2 to 11, offers supervised activities all day long, such as sports, arts and crafts, movie nights, trivia and more. Circle C and Club 02 are the other kids and teens program areas. While the kids play, parents can escape to the casino, spa or lounge. As a family, enjoy meals, pool parties, mini-golf, live shows, movies and more.

Bargain Bonus: Parents can take advantage of the Camp Carnival Night Owl babysitting program.

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