A working parent is bound to feel more than her fair share of guilt. If you throw business travel into the mix, well then, you have an extra helping — complete with missed bedtimes and breakfast. But when an upcoming conference required me to travel nearly 3,000 miles away from Toronto to Vancouver, Canada, and I knew I’d be staying at Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver, I felt guilt for a different reason. I was secretly looking forward to this trip, and was looking at it as a bit of a “Momcation.”
When I wasn’t required at panels or attending networking events, I was really looking forward to sleeping — and also enjoying all the amenities a luxury hotel has to offer without also chasing a toddler. What I wasn’t anticipating was missing my kids so much, and getting messed up by the time change so badly that I couldn’t sleep. There are worse things, however, than lying awake in a fluffy bathrobe in a king-sized bed all to myself, with a beautiful view of the city and mountains… so don’t feel too sorry for me.
I didn’t actually spend much time in my beautiful executive suite. But the time I did spend there was well and truly enjoyed. The extra space felt luxurious, and I duly noted that the layout would be ideal for a traveling family: two bathrooms, a spacious living room with a pull-out couch and a bedroom with French doors that allow for privacy, but also let you keep an eye and ear on things.
I was greeted not only by the lovely view, but also a selection of sweets and snacks that Four Seasons graciously offers its tiny guests upon check in. Four Seasons hotels offer lots of amenities and incentives for those traveling with children. They range from child-sized robes to decent (and decently priced) kids’ menus. Each resort has a pool and some even offer separate ones for children, plus play areas. Four Seasons guests may also utilize free baby cribs and toiletries.
During my downtime, I treated myself to a new ‘do at Blo, the blow-dry bar in the lobby, and savoured delicious risotto and glass of Pinot Grigio at YEW, the fantastic in-house restaurant. I was really impressed by both the selection and reasonable prices YEW offered on its children’s menu, and wished I could order a few things for myself from it! Perhaps not so much for my waistline, but one of the bonuses of dining with children is finishing their dinners. Dining sans-kids meant having to be satisfied with just one meal.
So while I was supposed to be enjoying my me-time, I found I was scouting locations my kids would enjoy on a future trip; Vancouver has so much to offer visiting families. It’s entirely walkable, and the Sky Train picks up the extra distance in such a manner that I know my kids would beg to ride it again and again. You could definitely write a rental car off your vacation budget; really not necessary here.
Stanley Park is within walking distance from Four Seasons, and I took the bus to Granville Island where there’s an amazing public market, art galleries, boutiques, a kids’ zone, you name it. I know my kids would have loved both. I indulged in a latte and square of excellent chocolate at Mink — and could definitely envision doing so with kids in tow at their lovely location “on the park,” just off of West Hastings Street.
While it’s unlikely we’ll make it to Vancouver as a family before summer’s out, if we do, it’ll be back to Four Seasons for its “Kids in the City” package, which runs until Sept. 5. Families can get a second room for half off; children receive a free souvenir T-shirt and a snack at check-in. Kids also eat breakfast free at YEW restaurant, can take a cooking class in the YEW kitchen, have fun in the Playzone games room, and join activities along the lines of scavenger hunts and face painting. Forget the momcation — I’m taking the kids!
Corinne McDermott is the founder of havebabywilltravel.com.
Corinne McDermott is the founder of Have Baby Will Travel - an online guide for travel with babies, toddlers & young children. A native of Toronto, she lives in the city with her husband, 3-year-old daughter and newborn son. Find her on Twitter or Facebook.
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