A Hotel So Family Friendly You Can Raise Your Kids There

Kyle McCarthy
May 14, 2013
posted under TMS Family Travel

Having posted a recap of current trends in family travel from our recent Family Travel Conference, I wanted to mention some insights gained from our lead sponsor, Omni Hotels and Resorts.

My family had actually stayed at an Omni Hotel in Dallas and another in Boston in years past, with not much need for their "family-friendly" amenities. Those were the dark days before family programs (Omni now has Sensational Kids which delivers free milk and cookies to your room), Welcome gifts (Omni now has a fun backpack stuffed with toys and activities), and urban kids' playrooms (Omni now has a playroom where your under-12s will be happy to let off steam).

I do fondly recall, however, the Omni Parker House courtesy lemonade stand which greeted us one very hot summer day after a too-long stay at the Boston Children's Museum. That type of thoughtful, service-oriented family amenity is what struck me about the hotel's attitude then and still today. That's something that comes from the top down.

And it was that same feeling of guest appreciation that returned when I met the hotel's General Manager Peter Strebel and his wife Patty. Strebel took over at the Omni Berkshire Place in Manhattan to oversee its recent renovations, with wife and three boys in tow. Patty found the hotel a safe and "homey" place to live, a special quality that's palpable even to a conference-goer.

The two older children are now in college, and the Strebel family was quick to point out that the transition from the suburbs of Dallas to living a la Eloise in a GM penthouse had been easy for their high-school-age son. You'll love their thoughts about what living in a hotel does -- it creates "kids with no borders."

I understood the appeal to a teen immediately; Omni Berkshire Place is a stylish and classy place whose chandeliers would wow your school friends. Anyone coming over for a playdate would love the tiny lobster rolls on buttermilk biscuits, fish tacos or Chinese dumplings that we sampled at the conference. The Fireside Restaurant was cozy for a lunch date, but also stylish, an easy combination for today's modern teens.

So Omni and the Strebels have helped me expand my horizons on family-friendliness.

The 50 Omin Hotels and Resorts in the United States fit a niche between the most luxurious and upscale tiers in hotel parlance, a very comfortable spot price-wise for many affluent families as well.

Each one is designed to fit into its environment, reflecting the local arts and culture in decor, cuisine, staff training and ambiance -- another attribute that families who avoid cookie cutters (except with dough or play-do) find very appealing.

As part of the complimentary guest loyalty program, the Omni hotels offer free WiFi (irresistible to everyone), morning coffee (my favorite) and -- big surprise -- free pressing of men's shirts (something my wrinkle-loving son would reject as absurd.)

But that last one is for my husband.

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