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Polo season is in full gear in the UK and will be starting soon enough in the rest of the world. Whether it’s polo-inspired cocktail menus, training with the polo pros or exclusive access to top matches, these hotels want you to experience polo paradise.
Three of the world’s top polo matches take place in Argentina, so it’s a pretty big deal there. The new bar at Four Seasons Hotel Buenos Aires pays homage to the sport and to the revered Argentinean polo team, La Dolfina. However, the Pony Line Bar and Lounge may be clad in brown leather and have a riding motif throughout, but it ain’t a sports bar as you know it to be.
It’s more for the urban sophisticate who wants to try the housemade chorizo and oxtail empanadas to go along with his or her artisanal locally-produced Stallion beer than the Bud Light and wings crowd. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that—we like a good stack of salt-and-pepper wings as much as the next guy or gal. We’re just sayin’.)
If you want to get an even bigger taste of the game, as a hotel guest you can visit La Dolfina Polo Ranch to learn more about the sport and why Argentina is reputed to be so good at it. Rates start at $595 in October.
Tweens, Chicago and Radio Disney. Did someone say Pajamarama?
Probably not. But still, the Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers have come up with an interesting draw to lure families in for the end of the summer: a 90-minute "back to school blowout" bash with Radio Disney.
Similar to the High School Musical package they ran in January, the hotel is running a promo for $179 per night for a family of four ($159 if you stay two nights) for August 24th and 25th and they're calling it a weekend "sleepover party" (hehe.)
Anyone who travels with young children knows the hassle of lugging around all that bleeping gear. In addition to essentials--stroller, suitcase and countless what-have-you's--parents must pack devices to keep the little ones occupied, or else: youth hostile moment.
Hotels, once toyless, are all over this amenity-void, with welcome gifts and other kiddie treats. Loews Hotels has upped the ante, with what might be the first in-room entertainment set for the six-and-under set.
So this "High School Musical" phenomenon sort of came in like a tornado swallowing every pre-pubescent teen sitting at home watching the Disney Channel only to spit them out as if they graduated from Fame.
If you haven't watched it (we haven't, but HotelChatter editor Juliana admits to watching it not once but twice) the musical is supreme cheesy tween fare. Think DeGrassi High but with singing and dancing and minus "serious" issues. The movie was so popular Disney channel had to air it several more times and the soundtrack was #1 on the charts and iTunes for like a year.
Anyways, it looks like hotels are starting to catch on to this "HSM" craze, starting with the The Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers. The hotel is offering families the "High School Musical Pajamarama Package!" which includes accommodations for a family of four, complimentary valet parking, and invitations to the official Pajamarama event on Dec. 29 where you can karaoke and win prizes including tickets to the "HSM" concert on January 19 at the Allstate Arena, given out by Radio Disney.
Your kids will love it and the price is right at $159 but it's only a one-night offer for Dec. 29. And if you planned on getting the kids a karaoke machine from Santa, no matter how hard you try, the High School Musical karaoke will be so much better.
(Note: When booking, mention the HSMPARTY rate plan.)
[Ed. Note: Last weekend, Hotel Maven Tim Leffel was dragged to Disney World, a notorious wallet-buster, but he was able to make lemonade out of Mickey-shaped lemons. Here's his story.]
Disney World can suck a mom & dad's wallet dry in no time. One-day tickets to any of the parks will cost a family of four over $200 and nightly rates at some of the Disney-owned resorts can top $400. Plus you've gotta eat, right?
You can get a little relief on the lodging side though by staying at one of the three Disney All-Star Resorts. These are basically tricked-out motels, but they've gotten the full Disney treatment and attention to detail, so they end up being a surprisingly good value. This is especially true outside of holiday times, like now, when rates drop to $90 a night for a regular room and $190 for a two-room suite with two baths and a kitchenette. This includes express luggage and bus service from the airport, transportation to the Disney parks, and admission during extra hours.
More on the All-Star Resorts post-click.
Thornybush may not sound so romantic but it sure looks it. A Game Reserve/lodge at Kruger National Park in South Africa, Thornybush is one of the few luxury African resorts that caters to both honeymooners and children.
We know what you're wondering--has the Jolie-Pitt clan stayed here? The answer, so far, is no.
Nevertheless, Thornybush Game Reserve provides the quintessential African vacation: the chance to see exotic animals--but from the safe position behind the glass window that separates them from your deep-set spa bath.
Finishing-the-Hat's blog brings us straight to this prime bathtub view and also provides shots of the cozy hotel bedroom and well-kept pool. Twenty suites are all stocked with these deep tubs and outdoor showers. But by outdoor showers, think clean and brand new stone tiles rather than mud and a thatched fence.
Thornybush prides itself in making each `moment' unique and unforgettable, whether its when you are watching a lioness with her cubs, frolicking in the sun a few metres away, or sipping chilled champagne in a hot air balloon high above the African bush. We always go the "extra mile" to make sure each memory is extraordinary.
All this said, don't expect the hotel to be free of bugs. You'll still need major "OFF" spray, which could ruin a romantic honeymoon. Also, the hotel doesn't offer up possible conversation tips for when your children watch a pack of lions maul a hyenah.
The hotel however seems more like a romantic getaway for couples as it features the mountainous backdrop of Southern California and has fireplaces heating up the luxurious bedrooms. Add in a fancy golf course and top-notch spa and we wonder what the kids could possibly do here. Or better yet where are they?
We found out they are probably participating in the hotel's kids program for ages 5 to 12 where they learn about the Chumash Indians, who lived on California's Central Coast.
Counselors -- one for every five campers -- lead nature hikes to the Chumash Indian Hunt, where kids hear stories, sing, and create talking rain sticks and rock art. The property also boasts an 800-acre Ranch & Stables, featuring a big red barn, an active silo, a petting farm, and 36 horses....All kids come home with a photo of themselves, framed with the name of the horse they rode, a bandanna, and a horseshoe.
As for Mom and Dad, Picky Chick says, "There isn't a whole lot to do...golf, spa, eat, drink. That's basically it and that's what is so fabulous about Ojai."
But you better hope that kids program will tire your rugrats out because despite room rates of $350 and up, there's no DVD players or OnCommand movies in the rooms.
We've given up all hope that indoor water parks are just a passing fad. We are realizing that this phenomenon will continue for at least a few more years. And the hub of all these garish water parks seems to be the Wisconsin Dells, since the upper-Midwest is home to some of the world's largest water parks and thus has built up a growing resort town full of activities.
With more than 8,000 hotel rooms, you can bet on a lot of awful inns and lodges here. But since this is also a little playground for Chicago city slickers the place isn't completely void of hotel happiness.
The New York Post suggests making a last minute jaunt to the Dells before the summer's end. Even if you don't think you can handle the waterpark madness, you can spend hours in the Aveda spas, chilling at the breweries and eating up fresh walleye and...probably a lot of cheese. The Post suggests the Kalahari Resort:
It's one of the few stay-to-play complexes with a truly meandering indoor lazy river (920 feet, America's largest, passing through a wave pool), a newfangled uphill water roller coaster (water jets push you up and downhill), and a blissfully reckless slide that spins your body in a giant bowl before dumping you out into a disorientingly deep pool. But its rarest diversion is the FlowRider sheet-wave machine, where you can surf and boogie board on 50,000 gallons a minute above a padded pool that cushions the inevitable wipeout
But again, if you can't handle all of this wet, wild, water fun, fear not. The Kalahari has several restaurants, a golf course and a stadium seating movie theater. Rooms have internet, coffeemakers, and are "African-themed". We're not sure if this would pass the Angelina test, but it seems to work for the thousands of Chicagoans that head up every weekend.
· Splash Hits [New York Post]
· Kalahari Resort Reviews [TripAdvisor]
· Despite our wishes, Indoor Water Parks continue to be popular [HotelChatter]
· San Fran's Argonaut Will Take Kids [Frommer's]
· Hotel Policies About Children [Family Travel Guides]
· L'Enfant Plaza: More than Just a Catchy Name [L'Enfant Plaza]
· Amazingly, Some Paris Hotels Accept Children [Five Star Alliance]
· Safe Miami Beach Hotel Pools [Miami Beach 411]
High gas prices must be dampening summer travel, because this $79 deal from Royal Plaza Disney Hotel is a rare bargain.
Conventional wisdom says that finding a weekend hotel deal in the summer in Orlando is akin to looking for a 50 cent hot dog at Disney World (despite the muggy heat that often plagues Central Florida this time of the year.)So we were surprised to see this $79 promotional rate from the hotel.
Fresh off a renovation, this official Disney hotel offers complimentary transportation to the parks, a pool and fitness center, and plenty of room for the kiddies to spread around their mouse ears and overpriced stuffed toys.
More on how to get this rate after the jump
We thought all you had to worry about when traveling with kids was whether or not they would behave and thus, allow you to actually enjoy your vacation.
But a report done by a local NBC news station in Maryland uncovered that a few hotels and motels offer outdated cribs that could potentially kill your child.
The news team checked out five hotels in College Park and out of 10 cribs only two passed inspection. Almost all included adult sheets on the crib mattress which is a potential choking hazard. One crib at the Super 8 was assembled upside down with the mattress floorboard falling out. The other included an adult pillow. The Holiday Inn had one crib that passed inspection but was still using an Evenflo Happy Camper crib which was recalled in 1997 for faulty hinges that caused the crib to collapse.
The only hotel that got it right? The Hampton Inn who had two brand-new regulation-abiding cribs.
· Hotel Cribs Can Put Your Baby At Risk [NBC30.com]
Hilton Hotels has teamed up with the Discovery Channel to help make your kids smarter. Or at least get them some answers to their homework questions.
The Hilton Discovery Kids packages is offered for kids 12 and under and includes a Hilton Discovery kids backpack with continental breakfast vouchers, "a DVD with episodes from the show "Endurance," an activity book and a one-month subscription to Cosmeo, which offers online homework help."
Kids can also go online to Discoverykids.com to share photos, videos and stories of their trip.
The program is only available at participating Hiltons through September 4 and is offered with that hotel's best available rate.
· On the Go [AZ Starnet]