I should begin this by saying we weren’t looking for a family trip. We wanted a vacation. A full-out, sip-some-cocktails-in-coconut-shells-adorned-with-brightly-colored-mini umbrellas vacation. I wanted to melt into a chaise by the ocean, float in a pool, swim up to a bar, and stretch along the balcony as I watched the sun set. And, as any parent with preschool-age little people knows, to find this elusive vacation one must find a place to stay that would make one’s children feel like the little royals they often believe themselves to be (insert eye roll). Que The Reserve at Paradisus Palma Real (a small “boutique-ish” part of the larger Paradisus Palma Real Resort).
This had not been our first option when booking our stay in the DR. We had spent months booked at Nickelodeon’s Resort (see some need-to-know info on that resort here), but then, on a whim, we decided to check other options. (So, really, it wasn’t a whim, but it felt like it. As a family of five, we were having trouble finding a room to accommodate us at Nickelodeon that wasn’t ridiculously expensive; didn’t include us all sharing one giant, open room (seriously awful and not part of any vacation plans); or could be guaranteed connecting). So, we feverishly searched (this is something we do when booking a trip: computers open, fingers skipping across keys, sweat beading on brows), and eventually landed on The Reserve. But, admittedly, I think we both were a bit indifferent about it beyond the facts that it had a Kid’s Club that accepted children over a year without a parent needing to stay and supervise and it had a nap room (because heading back to the hotel room to nap a child just isn’t on my list of vacation activities either).
The point is, we didn’t have any huge expectations about the hotel. But, upon arrival, it quickly established a set of expectations, even through the grey skies and drizzling rain. We were greeted with cute little bracelets for us all, even the little people. They weren’t the typical plastic bands, but were beaded and, I’m not ashamed to admit, a bit stylish. So once these sweet little bracelets were secured to our wrists, we were introduced to Andy. And then the sun came out (it actually didn’t, but I wanted the drama, so let’s go with it). Andy showed us to our room, asked us what we needed in the room for our little people, then waited in the family concierge lobby (filled with little toys) for us to settle in before taking us on a private tour of the hotel complex.
We had signed on to have a “Family Concierge” while we were at the hotel. I am still not entirely sure what the job description for this position would be, but I think that’s because they do so much and are so flexible. So, like, maybe, “Person who does it all for your family” or “General Problem Fixer and Question Answer and Concern Addresser”? For my family, we paid for a family concierge, Andy, and what he did was make my little people feel like they were super special. It meant that they felt like we were finally at a hotel where the amenities were not adult, but were designed with little people in mind (think little people robes and slippers). It meant notes left for them in the room and small “gifts”. It meant a friendly face walking around the resort. It meant they felt someone (other than their parents of course) was thinking of them during the day, and that made them feel important.
For my husband and I, having a Family Concierge meant not having to make dinner reservations. It meant someone who made sure my husband’s food allergies were taken seriously, who met us at dinner every night to make sure the day went fine and the restaurant (usually suggested and chosen by Andy) suited us. It meant someone who would seek us out throughout the day to check on us, answer any questions, give us insight into the area. It meant we always had milk in our fridge and oreos on our counter. It meant that when my little people were in the Kid’s Club without me, there was a person who stopped there frequently to make sure they were having fun, napping, giggling, and being happy littles, who would call me if they weren’t and who could bring them to me if one of them needed me. Most importantly, having a family concierge meant actually being able to relax with a peace of mind that only comes from knowing someone is being attentive to my littles’ needs.
So, what, beyond the Family Concierge, would make me go back to this hotel again and again and again (and even consider for one rum-filled moment to buy into a timeshare (though I was not approached to in any capacity))? Well, read on my fellow family vacation seekers. Read on.
So, this hotel. Would I return? Without a doubt. Would I do family concierge again? You bet (and I’d ask for Andy). And when I return, my littles will be a little bit bigger and some of these “Cons” won’t even matter any more. Wanting to travel all the time creates a need to try new places, but it also creates a desire to return to some of those places. Especially when it’s possible to make every person happy, at the same time no less. This is one of those places I’d go back to when I needed a fruity drink kind of vacation, even with the rest of the world still out there for us to explore (but I’d be smart enough next time to figure out a way to finally properly explore this beautiful island as well).
Note: Hotels are based on a four level scale: Child Centered, Child Friendly, Child Accommodating, Unsuitable. A Child Centered hotel is a hotel in which the child’s comfort, happiness, etc. is paramount. A Child Friendly hotel has those implements in place to create a fun atmosphere for the child, though it is not the apparent mission of the hotel to continuously do so. A Child Accommodating hotel is that hotel where it will assist the parents in making the child comfortable at the parent’s request only. An Unsuitable hotel is a hotel that has no accommodations suitable for a child or the cons of the hotel make the hotel dangerous for the well-being of the child.
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