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Have Offspring, Will Travel

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Elizabeth Thorp: Family vacations don't necessarily mean a double double at a Motel 6 with free HBO. Family travel has gone hip and luxe. Our brood has been recently on the road and these are some of our favorites:

family at the beach

City Slickers
We checked into the Trump SoHo hours later than we expected after being parked on the NJ Turnpike for three hours. Children and parents were quite grumpy. The hotel greeted us warmly and upon check in gave the three girls Trump Kids welcome packet/activity bags with coloring books, NYC information, a kids' menu, a stuffed Trump animal and -- get this! -- personalized Trump SoHo calling cards and stationary. The bell staff was very friendly and welcoming to kids, discussing tennis shoes with lights, letting them push buttons on elevators and talking about our trip. Our two favorite staffers were named Hamlet and Elvis respectively ... and now I wonder if those names were fiction?

Our one-bedroom suite was large and elegantly furnished, but not so fancy that we were stressed about kids. Trump SoHo hotel's one-bedroom suites range from 682 to 905 sq. ft. and provide a separate living space that ensures privacy for adults and kids. Our room had a large pull-out sofa and a half bath in the living room with a separate bedroom for Mom and Dad with a ginormous bathroom with TV and gorgeous soaking tub overlooking the Hudson River. Champagne dreams and caviar wishes!

Each suite has floor-to-ceiling windows that provide natural light. For larger families, many suites connect to adjacent guest rooms to create spacious two-bedroom suites. Our gang loved the:

  • king-size bed featuring the Trump by Stearns & Foster®
  • European-style wet bar
  • Nespresso machine
  • Microwave
  • Powder room (with a family of five, one bath just isn't enough!)
  • WiFi
  • Fitness Center
  • 24 hour room service with great kids' menu
  • Kids' bath amenities
  • Kiddie Cocktail Menu
  • Kids' slippers and robes
  • Onsite rooftop pool

We ordered dinner right away, and the babysitter (Babysitters Guild, highly recommended!) played Memory games with them, got them in jammies and and the adults went out for necessary cocktailing with friends.

The morning of check-out, we walked a couple blocks to the Vesuvio Playground, complete with sprinklers, swings and amazing climbing equipment on Thompson Street. We ran the girls for an hour before our second leg of a road trip to Maine.

The hotel is at 246 Spring Street, New York, NY 10013. www.trumpsohohotel.com.  Rates begin at $399 a night for a King Superior room. Reservations: 877 828 7080.

Mountains
The Greenbrier is an award-winning resort located in the Allegheny Mountains of West Virginia. Since 1778, the Greenbrier's classic architecture, interior design, scenic beauty, and outstanding amenities have hosted distinguished guests including 26 presidents. The historic resort has a large selection cottages and houses for larger groups and families. We recently stayed in a three-bedroom South Carolina Row house, originally constructed in the mid-1800s. Each cottage is now decorated in Dorothy Draper-style and features a living room, dining room, fireplace and porch. Our two older girls shared a room with two double canopy beds ("the princess room") and our two-year-old stayed in the third bedroom in a crib provided by the Greenbrier.

Our cottage was just across the way from the main house, restaurants, spa, indoor pool, fitness and bowling center and a short walk from the greens, gazebo and playground. While the kids were at kids' club, we enjoyed the spa, a dinner date at Sam Snead's Tavern, a bike ride around the grounds and our first round of skeet shooting. Older kids will love the "bunker tour." You can visit the former secret U.S. Government Relocation Facility with enough beds for all of Congress. Very James Bond! We all agreed that The Greenbrier deserves every one of those five diamonds. Nightly rates for Greenbrier cottages begin at $500. www.thegreenbrier.com

Beach
Sea Island Cottages, Sea Island, Georgia
Sea Island's cottages offer the spaciousness, convenience and privacy of a personal residence along with the extraordinary resort amenities at Sea Island. The rental rates include access to the private five-star Sea Island resort, spa, beach club, golf club, dining, children's activities, tennis, shooting school and yacht club. Cottages range from three to eight bedrooms. All are furnished and fully equipped, many with private pools and Internet access. I've got my eye on cottage 119, a gorgeous mid-century/Mad Men house and cottage 214, an eclectic Bermudian-style cottage with a pool. Weekly rates from $3,000 to $29,000 depending on season, number of bedrooms, location, pool and décor. Some pet-friendly cottages available. http://www.seaislandcottages.com

Coupon Clipper
We stumbled upon Aloft Hotel in Denver when we had a very early flight from Denver. We checked into the cool, colorful and friendly Aloft Hotel a stone's throw from the airport. At check in, "Camp Aloft" makes staying at the hotel an exciting adventure for the littlest visitors. It starts with treats that greet each 2-to-12-year-old. A kid-size air mattress and special bedding for their very own space to sleep soundly. Goodies to spark that "you're on vacation" feeling. The re:fuel by Aloft(SM) pantry, is stocked with junior favorites that get the mom-and-dad seal of approval. The hotels emphasize public spaces had in addition to the pantry, has a communal lounge mood lighting, music, board games, a pool table, a big screen TV, free wifi, a bar for the two-martini play date and social and quiet spaces.

The rooms are chic, comfortable, well-equipped and very well priced. For about $130, we got a non-smoking, 315 square-foot room with two queen beds for the short family slumber party before our early departure. The room had Bliss Spa amenities, complimentary water and gourmet tea and coffee, a 42-inch flat-screen LCD TV, oversized shower, and oooooh those Starwood beds!

The hotel also has a state-of-the-art gym and a heated indoor pool for exercising the kiddos. At this hotel, parents will never hear "I'm bored!" From the splash pool to fun games in the re:mix(SM) lounge, youngsters will discover a kid-tastic hotel experience that won't empty the college fund.

Aloft Denver International Airport
A vision of Starwood Hotel Group, Aloft Hotels' rates are as low as $90 on weekends. Aloft Hotels can be found in the US, Mexico, Europe and Asia. Aloft Beijing, anyone?



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