Consumer Lookout

Kids are Number One at Select Hotels
By Kathy Chin Leong


A kiddie-sized snack delivered to your hotel door such as the one from the Peninsula Chicago (photo left) will leave many a child drooling. Savvy hotels targeting high-end families are investing thousands into kid-friendly suites, room amenities and services to make sure those children will return when they become adults. Places that have traditionally focused on business travelers are expanding their portfolios, attracting diaper-bag toting, Gameboy-lovin’ global vacationers.

Some are providing special goodies for kids upon check-in, others have chosen to create fantasy suites to make their dreams come true. Here’s what the hottest hotels are doing to cater to children’s needs and wants:

BAY AREA

Four Seasons San Francisco

It’s hard to believe, but it’s true: kids get cheated. At least, that’s what the folks at the Four Seasons San Francisco believe. To make their pint-sized guests feel all grown up, the hotel is offering keys to their own mini-bar. Four Seasons Hotel San Francisco has launched the inventive "kids snack bar".

Instead of feeling deprived, children now receive their very own kids snack bar key upon check in, and carte blanche to enjoy the offering. Replacing the usual mini-bar selections, the kid-friendly menu features familiar favorites from Oreos, granola bars, raisins and fruit rolls to animal crackers, Capri Sun, juice boxes and milk chugs. Parents needn’t worry about a giant bill at check-out as items are priced from $1.00 to $3.50.

Current kiddie services and amenities include: cookies and milk, for those 6 yrs. and younger, or or popcorn and root beer, 7 yrs. and older, in room on arrival. When little ones bathe, they too can find child-size bathrobes in their closets. This is in addition to complimentary coloring sets, board games and video games upon request.

Wonder what there is to see with kids once you arrive? The hotel has prepared a 10-page packet of fun-filled activities in the area, specially-designed by the Concierge team. Check out the Four Seasons website at www.fourseasons.com .

Hotel Metropolis, San Francisco


Besides playing with the remote and bouncing on the beds, most children find hotel rooms boring. But, a one-of-a-kind hotel room with pint-sized furniture, bunk beds, a chalkboard wall, toys and rubber ducky decor in the bathroom is a huge hit with families checking into the Kids Suite at the family-owned Hotel Metropolis in San Francisco.

The three-room family suite includes a beautiful contemporary guestroom with custom furnishings for the adults, as well as a living room area with a refrigerator, wet bar and pull-out sofa for only $369 per night, valid January though December 2006 excluding tax.

After traveling around the world with her two young children in tow, Personality Hotels President and CEO Yvonne Lembi-Detert had experienced dozens of hotels touting family packages and amenities, but none had truly made her kids feel at home and at ease. She decided to create a room designed especially for kids, a first for San Francisco.
"No matter where they are, kids want to feel special and have fun," said Lembi-Detert. "Our Kids Suite keeps the little ones happy and comfortable so that the entire gang can relax after a day of enjoying the city's family attractions."

From the well-known family attractions such as Zeum and Alcatraz, to the lesser-known cable car barn and Toy Boat ice cream shop and toy store, Lembi-Detert knows first-hand what will keep the kids enthralled and the parents satisfied with a family trip to San Francisco. So, Lembi-Detert put together a special list of her family's favorite attractions and tours, and it’s now available to guests upon check in at the Hotel Metropolis . For more information or to make a reservation, please visit www.personalityhotels.com or call 800.553.1900.

Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay


At the Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay where a romantic panoramic view of the Pacific Ocean awaits, little ones go to the "Very Important Kid" Desk upon arrival while Mom and Dad check in at their own "adult" counter. This lower counter for kids is situated right next to the main reception desk.

Children are encouraged to fill out a form including questions regarding their birthday, where they live, and their preferences such as favorite color, game, food or candy. This makes it a fun and special experience for kids to be able to "check-in" along with their parents. Says press relations official  Shelly Auyeung, "We keep these forms on file and take note of their preferences so we can surprise him/her with their favorite amenity during their next visit!"

The hotel also offers a children's menu for both lunch and dinner in both Navio and The Conservatory restaurants. The children's menu is offered with crayons as it doubles as a great coloring book.

The classy Signature Shop also features children's items including Bulgari toilettries, designer clothing, and stuffed Ritz-Carlton Teddy Bears wearing cute signature robes and server vests.

Every summer, the property also offers enriching week-long day camps for children that focus on various indoor activities and outdoor sports including golf, tennis, scuba diving, kayaking and more for children of guests and local residents.

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

Omni Hotels in San Diego, Los Angeles


The Omni Hotels of California has just announced it is offering a Kids Fantasy Suite. According to Omni press officials, young travelers can check into the best room in the house when visiting an Omni in San Diego, Los Angeles or San Francisco.

The colorful suites feature Pottery Barn Kids bunk beds and beanbag chairs along with board games, stuffed animals, and plenty of toys. In addition, the suites contain a kid-friendly mini-bar stocked with healthful snacks such as milk, juice boxes, yogurt, baby carrots, graham crackers, cereal and fruit chews.
While children are treated to their own special turn down service with cookies and milk and a bedtime story reading with Omni's "Captain Cool" Concierge, parents can relax in an adjoining bedroom.

Available May 26 through September 30, 2006 at Omni Hotels in San Diego, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, the Kids Fantasy Suite is $350 per room, per night. The rate is based on occupancy up to four guests. The suite is also available in San Francisco. Call 1-800-THE-OMNI.

Sheraton Universal

Sheraton Universal Hotel in Universal City offers two theme rooms for the kid in all of us. The first is the Woody Woodpecker room with two beds with matching blue comforters and images of the cartoon bird throughout. Sculptures of the Woody are cute in this room with Internet access and Universal Studios poster.

The Shrek Honeymoon suite, priced at approximately $500 per night, is a full-fledged delight. The room is a large suite on the upper floor and features many of characters and images found in the Shrek movie. In fact, Sheraton went through lots of effort to make this room look like Shrek’s movie abode. The four-poster bed where the legs are tree trunks covered by imitation vines is the centerpiece of the suite. On the side wall is the large mirror resembling the one in the film. The walls all have a forested feel, and there’s even a painted mouse-hole in one corner.

One of the nicest touches? Gingerbread man cookies and milk at the end of the evening for each guest. Check out www.sheraton.com   call 818/980-1212 for more details. 

OUT OF STATE


Peninsula Chicago

This popular "windy city" establishment recently announced the ‘Pen Kids’ package with rates starting at $435 for its base superior room. Under this program, kids who check in get a special backpack presented upon arrival. The backpack is chock full of goodies such as a teddy bear, coloring book, welcome packet with a letter and lists of things to see and do. The child also gets her very own, personalized business cards, announcing are "in residence" at The Peninsula Chicago.

And that’s not all. Pampered little clients receive a welcome snack that make even the parents drool. Delivered to the guestroom are gummy bears served in a martini glass, rainbow Jell-O topped with whipped cream and served in tiny shot glasses, a bucket of popcorn and a 1950’s paper car filled with chocolate chip cookies. Peninsula Bathrobes and Slippers fit just to their size also come with a bath gift- a frog or duck theme set up in the bathtub

"Pen Kids" package is offered any night of the week, based on availability. Rates are based on two children; $25 for each additional child. The hotel provides ongoing children’services and amenities such as:
·
A special children’s menu is available in all of the Peninsula restaurants, as well as a fun TV Dinner Room Service presentation designed with kids in mind.
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An incredible pool is available for children at The Peninsula Spa
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Afternoon Tea for Children includes: a child-friendly menu of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, ham and cheese fingers, mini hamburgers, chocolate chip cookies, mini brownies, gummy bears, Rice Krispie treats and Jell-O squares. Children may have their choice of tea or hot chocolate if they prefer. Children’s Afternoon Tea is served daily between 3 PM and 5:30 PM and is $16.00 per child or $23 with a Peninsula Teddy Bear.
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The spectacular Sunday Brunch (offered every Sunday from 10 AM to 2:30 PM) features a special Pen Kids buffet table—kid’s favorite food accessible at just the right height (3 ft)—macaroni and cheese, mini-cheeseburgers, chicken fingers, Rice Krispie squares and much more. The Brunch is available for $20 per child under 12 years.
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Board Games and Sony DVD games available to borrow
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Teen Spa services in The Spa, including manicures with fun, glittery polish; non-invasive facials designed to target the special skin conditions teenagers experience; and more. 

Overnight packages designed with children in mind include: 
*‘Mother-Daughter Delight’ package (manicures and pedicures together; afternoon tea for some good bonding time and more) 
*
‘American Girl Goes to The Peninsula’ package (doll bed set up in guestroom, special turndown amenity for girl and her doll, Peninsula bathrobes and slippers for girl and doll and more.

Parents can call  the Peninsula Chicago Reservations Department at (312) 337-2888 or make toll-free reservations at (866) 288-8889.

NOTEWORTHY HOTEL WEBSITES:

* www.sheraton.com  
* www.peninsula.com  
* www.omnihotels.com  
* www.ritzcartton.com  
* www.fairmont.com
* www.personalityhotels.com

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