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Planning the Ultimate Winter Break? Check Out These Hotels with Cool Kids’ Amenities

Traveling with kids can be both amazing and exhausting. On the one hand, you get the joy of seeing your kids experience novel places and things. On the other hand, it’s hard to explain to a toddler that they are now in a different time zone and should stop waking up at 4 a.m.


Luckily, many hotels around the country have amenities that appeal to younger travelers – including unique kids’ activities and experiences. These places offer a range of options for kids with different interests including art, animals, and the outdoors. There are also plenty of perks for parents – making any of these spots good destinations for the whole family.

1 | Four Seasons Resort and Residences Vail, Vail, CO

Many Four Seasons locations have perks for kids including welcome gifts and child-sized bathrobes. The Four Seasons Resort and Residences Vail, located near the base of Vail ski resort, and is a relaxing mountain retreat for the whole family. The hotel can pitch a tent in your room throughout the year at no additional cost, giving kids a chance to camp by the gas-burning fireplace in the room. The location also has a year-round outdoor heated pool where families can swim (even in the winter) and then warm up with complimentary hot chocolate and brownies. The location also has a kids’ club which hosts rotating events like a kid-friendly après-ski party.

Perks for parents

Parents can enjoy the spa which has unique treatments like a high-altitude adjustment massage or a Colorado beer foot soak (the yeast from the beer purifies and cleanses your feet). The Remedy bar also serves a collection of unique cocktails to help parents unwind at the end of a long day of skiing or sightseeing.

2 | Kimpton RiverPlace Hotel, Portland, OR

Surprise! It’s the Bedtime Butler.

Kimpton’s boutique hotels have kid-centric amenities that vary by location. Some sites offer “Guppy Love” – a program that allows kids to have a pet fish during their stay (that the hotel staff feeds and cares for). The Kimpton Muse in New York offers kids a welcome toy upon arrival and hosts a daily hot chocolate bar.

At the Kimpton RiverPlace Hotel in Portland, kids will love the Bedtime Butler – a cart that makes the rounds several nights a week carrying a rotating selection of complimentary treats like cookies or books for kids and nightcaps for parents. Guests can’t order the butler – the cart visits rooms at random, so kids have to listen for the surprise knock at the door. The Kimpton RiverPlace is also pet friendly and has complimentary in-room tent camping for smaller kiddos.

Perks for parents

Parents can enjoy evening social hours featuring local craft beer or Oregon wines and take advantage of complimentary coffee in the morning and yoga mats in every room.

3 | Sundial Beach Resort & Spa, Sanibel, FL

Sanibel Island, located on the Gulf Coast of Florida, is a great beach vacation option for families. Everyone can enjoy wildlife viewing, beaches with a large variety of shells, and the bike paths located throughout the small island. The beachfront Sundial Resort has rooms with kitchens, making it easy to prepare snacks or meals for kids (and you can pre-order groceries to have your room stocked when you arrive). Kids can play at the pool or take advantage of complimentary sports equipment rentals or activities like scavenger hunts and seashell necklace making. The Sanibel Sea School is a program that gives families a chance to interact with marine educators to learn about some of the marine life on the island like sea turtles, manatees, and dolphins.

Perks for parents

While kids are engaged with some of the resort activities, parents can take advantage of the full-service spa and restaurants, or even reserve a dinner on the beach.

4 | Resort at Squaw Creek, Lake Tahoe, CA

This Lake Tahoe resort, located at the base of Squaw Valley ski area, offers a variety of amenities to keep kids entertained year-round. In the winter, families can ski, enjoy the private ice rink, or go on a dog sled tour. The summer season offers hiking and swimming and a chance to take a tram to the top of the ski area to a museum commemorating the 1960 Olympic games that were hosted at the site. Kids can also enjoy perks like 30-minute spa treatments designed especially for them and seasonal events like a holiday Gingerbread Village and a kid’s New Year’s Eve bash.

Perks for parents

Parents can unwind at the spa or enjoy a nice meal at the contemporary steakhouse Six Peaks Grille, which uses produce from the resort’s on-site hydroponic garden.

5 | LEGOLAND Hotels, CA and FL

Aargh! Go to bed.

The hotels adjacent to the LEGOLAND locations in California and Florida are designed to delight kids. Rooms have different LEGO themes like Pirates, Friends, or Ninjago, and kids can complete a treasure hunt to unlock a treasure chest surprise in their room. There are also pools and play areas and a variety of LEGOS to play with throughout the hotels, and guests get a complimentary breakfast buffet and early access to LEGOLAND parks. In addition to the existing locations, the LEGOLAND Beach Retreat opened in Florida in 2017, and a castle-themed hotel is set to open in California in 2018.

Perks for parents

Rooms are set up so that the kids area is separated from the adult area giving everyone their own space. But the best perk may be that with so much to entertain the kids, parents get a chance to actually relax.

6 | Embassy Suites Waikiki Beach Walk, Honolulu, HI

Hawaii is a great family-friendly destination, but accommodations can get pricey. The Embassy Suites Waikiki Beach has some great amenities at a good value. As with other Embassy Suites locations, the room price includes a complimentary evening reception and a hot breakfast buffet. The suite rooms feature living spaces separated from the bedrooms, which can come in handy for kids that go to bed early. There is also a separate kids’ pool and free Hawaiian entertainment at the poolside reception, and the hotel is just a short walk to the beach.

Perks for parents

The hotel hosts free poolside yoga some mornings and the evening reception has complimentary cocktails and snacks.

7 | Omni Berkshire Place, New York, NY

This hotel in Midtown Manhattan has an excellent location near a lot of popular New York City attractions like Rockefeller Center, Central Park, and The Museum of Modern Art. They are also one of the hotels across the nation that offer an American Girl Package. The package at this location comes with breakfast, a special American Girl-sized doll bed, and an evening treat. The location also has the Omni Kids Crew program which includes kid-friendly amenities like a welcome backpack filled with games, crayons and binoculars.

Perks for parents

Parents can take advantage of the fitness center with a view of midtown, in-room massages, and the on-site steak house restaurant.

8 | The ART Hotel, Denver, CO

Little art aficionados will appreciate the Denver ART Hotel, which is located within walking distance of some of Denver’s museums. Kids can play or sleep in the complimentary children’s Teepees that the hotel provides or visit the adjacent Denver Art Museum, which is always free to kids under 18. The hotel is also housed in a unique modern building and features over 50 pieces of artwork.

Perks for parents

Parents will appreciate the hotel’s modern, refined feel and can enjoy a cocktail at The Living Room lounge bar, which offers cocktails and a complimentary selection of old-fashioned candy.

9 | Great Wolf Resorts, Various Locations

Great Wolf Resorts is an extremely kid-friendly chain of indoor waterparks for kids of all ages. In addition to the waterparks, kids can keep busy with arcades, magic wand quests, and character appearances. Some rooms also come outfitted with cave and cabin themed sleeping areas with bunk beds for kiddos. With several locations across the country, visiting a Great Wolf Lodge can be a kid-friendly vacation of its own.

Perks for parents

Some locations offer a “Wine Down” service for parents – a wine and food pairing delivered as room service in the evening for parents to enjoy after the kids are in bed.

Image Credits: All images came from their respective properties.

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Summer heat has a way of making the house feel smaller, more congested, with less room for the air to circulate. And there's nothing like heat to make me want to strip down, cool off and lighten my load. So, motivation in three digits, now that school is back in, it's time to do a purge.

Forget the spring clean—who has time for that? Those last few months of the school year are busier than the first. And summer's warm weather entices our family outdoors on the weekends which doesn't leave much time for re-organizing.

So, I seize the opportunity when my kids are back in school to enter my zone.

I love throwing open every closet and cupboard door, pulling out anything and everything that doesn't fit our bodies or our lives. Each joyless item purged peels off another oppressive layer of "not me" or "not us."

Stuff can obscure what really makes us feel light, capable and competent. Stuff can stem the flow of what makes our lives work.

With my kids back in school, I am energized, motivated by the thought that I have the space to be in my head with no interruptions. No refereeing. No snacks. No naps… I am tossing. I am folding. I am stacking. I am organizing. I don't worry about having to stop. The neat-freak in me is having a field day.

Passing bedroom doors, ajar and flashing their naughty bits of chaos at me, is more than I can handle in terms of temptation. I have to be careful, though, because I can get on a roll. Taking to my kids' rooms I tread carefully, always aware that what I think is junk can actually be their treasure.

But I usually have a good sense for what has been abandoned or invisible in plain sight for the lack of movement or the accumulation of dust. Anything that fits the description gets relegated to a box in the garage where it is on standby in case its absence is noticed and a meltdown has ensued so the crisis can be averted. Either way, it's a victory.

Oh, it's quiet. So, so quiet. And I can think it through…

Do we really need all this stuff?

Will my son really notice if I toss all this stuff?

Will my daughter be heartbroken if I donate all this stuff?

Will I really miss this dress I wore three years ago that barely fit my waist then and had me holding in my tummy all night, and that I for sure cannot zip today?

Can we live without it all? All. This. Stuff?

For me, the fall purge always gets me wondering, where in the world does all this stuff come from? So with the beginning of the school year upon us, I vow to create a new mindset to evaluate everything that enters my home from now on, so there will be so much less stuff.

I vow to really think about objects before they enter my home…

…to evaluate what is really useful,

...to consider when it would be useful,

...to imagine where it would be useful,

...to remember why it may be useful,

…to decide how to use it in more than one way,

... so that all this stuff won't get in the way of what really matters—time and attention for my kids and our lives as a new year reveals more layers of the real stuff—what my kids are made of.

Bring it on.

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In the moments after we give birth, we desperately want to hear our baby cry. In the middle of the night a few months later it's no longer exactly music to our ears, but those cries aren't just telling us that baby needs a night feeding: They're also giving us a hint at what our children may sound like as kindergarteners, and adults.

New research published in the journal Biology Letters suggests the pitch of a 4-month-old's cry predicts the pitch they'll use to ask for more cookies at age five and maybe even later on as adults.

The study saw 2 to 5-month olds recorded while crying. Five years later, the researchers hit record again and chatted with the now speaking children. Their findings, combined with previous work on the subject, suggest it's possible to figure out what a baby's voice will sound like later in life, and that the pitch of our adult voices may be traceable back to the time we spend in utero. Further studies are needed, but scientists are very interested in how factors before birth can impact decades later.

"In utero, you have a lot of different things that can alter and impact your life — not only as a baby, but also at an adult stage," one of the authors of the study, Nicolas Mathevon, told the New York Times.

The New York Times also spoke with Carolyn Hodges, an assistant professor of anthropology at Boston University who was not involved in the study. According to Hodges, while voice pitch may not seem like a big deal, it impacts how we perceive people in very real ways.

Voice pitch is a factor in how attractive we think people are, how trustworthy. But why we find certain pitches more or less appealing isn't known. "There aren't many studies that address these questions, so that makes this research especially intriguing," Hodges said, adding that it "suggests that individual differences in voice pitch may have their origins very, very early in development."

So the pitch of that midnight cry may have been determined months ago, and it may determine part of your child's future, too. There are still so many things we don't know, but as parents we do know one thing: Our babies cries (as much as we don't want to hear them all the time) really are something special.

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For many years, Serena Williams seemed as perfect as a person could be. But now, Serena is a mom. She's imperfect and she's being honest about that and we're so grateful.

On the cover of TIME, Williams owns her imperfection, and in doing so, she gives mothers around the world permission to be as real as she is being.

"Nothing about me right now is perfect," she told TIME. "But I'm perfectly Serena."

The interview sheds light on Williams' recovery from her traumatic birth experience, and how her mental health has been impacted by the challenges she's faced in going from a medical emergency to new motherhood and back to the tennis court all within one year.

"Some days, I cry. I'm really sad. I've had meltdowns. It's been a really tough 11 months," she said.

It would have been easy for Williams to keep her struggles to herself over the last year. She didn't have to tell the world about her life-threatening birth experience, her decision to stop breastfeeding, her maternal mental health, how she missed her daughter's first steps, or any of it. But she did share these experiences, and in doing so she started incredibly powerful conversations on a national stage.

After Serena lost at Wimbledon this summer, she told the mothers watching around the world that she was playing for them. "And I tried," she said through tears. "I look forward to continuing to be back out here and doing what I do best."

In the TIME cover story, what happened before that match, where Williams lost to Angelique Kerber was revealed. TIME reports that Williams checked her phone about 10 minutes before the match, and learned, via Instagram, that the man convicted of fatally shooting her sister Yetunde Price, in 2003 is out on parole.

"I couldn't shake it out of my mind," Serena says. "It was hard because all I think about is her kids," she says. She was playing for all the mothers out there, but she had a specific mother on her mind during that historic match.

Williams' performance at Wimbledon wasn't perfect, and neither is she, as she clearly states on the cover of time. But motherhood isn't perfect either. It's okay to admit that. Thanks, Serena, for showing us how.

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There are some mornings where I wake up and I'm ready for the day. My alarm goes off and I pop out of bed and hum along as I make breakfast before my son wakes up. But then there are days where I just want 10 more minutes to sleep in. Or breakfast feels impossible to make because all our time has run out. Or I just feel overwhelmed and unprepared.

Those are the mornings I stare at the fridge and think, Can someone else just make breakfast, please?

Enter: make-ahead breakfasts. We spoke to the geniuses at Pinterest and they shared their top 10 pins all around this beautiful, planned-ahead treat. Here they are.

(You're welcome, future self.)

1. Make-ahead breakfast enchiladas

www.pinterest.com

Created by Bellyful

I'd make these for dinner, too.

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