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2010 September 15

Ok, so darling husband, Little D and I were experiencing some serious end of summer blues. LA has had abnormally Seattle-esque weather all season, we’d hardly logged in any pool time, and the stresses of ongoing househunting/working/parenting/pregnanting/being a kid-ing had taken their toll.

I read that thing a while back about how planning a vacation is actually even more enjoyable/stress relieving than going on one, and have taken it to heart, trying to work quarterly mini-breaks into our lives. So I am constantly planning another trip, and embracing the serene effects of JetSetter and TripAdvisor – who needs wine, after all?

We knew we had to drive, time was tight, and we’ve done the OC/SD/SB thing so many times, we decided to brave the heat and hit the desert. So the search began with two key criteria in mind: somewhere fun and fabulous for Little D, where she could spend hours splashing in a pool, eat ice cream sundaes for breakfast, and get a glimpse of a cartoon character every now and again. And for me? Well,  I was looking for 4-5 star, spa, turn-down service, and ideally an iPhone storing device where I could ignore email for three days. Family-friendly-luxe, if you will.

Now, I have to go on the record to say I am not a firm believer that this travel dichotomy exists. The places I deem fabulous enough for my taste do not employ Elmo or Dora. And the ones that do often replace “fine dining” with all-you-can-eat buffets and in-room minibars. Does the family-friendly-luxe category really exist?

We decided on a place that shall remain nameless, because I don’t want to get sued or anything, and we pulled in bright and early on Saturday morning. Nice fountain-filled entryway. Marble-covered lobby. Fresh fruit and water jugs beside reception. Off to a good start, though a hot towel or two would have been nice.

Walked by the pool en route to our “upgraded” room. Bouncey house off to the side, arts & crafts table, and a 60 ft water slide in direct view. Three points for Little D.

And that’s kind of where the “friendly” thing ended, at least for me. The room was fine. It was fine. Not 4-star. Not luxe. But fine. The bathroom? Meh. Ok, it’s fine. In-room minibar? Fully stocked. Proceeded to the restaurant for lunch.

“Here for the all-you-can-eat buffet?” Ugh.

Ok, let’s hit the pool. It was fine. Big, lots of chairs, though placed way too close together, and covered with faded, cheap-looking cushions. One umbrella for every 10 chairs, despite the 110 degree heat and September sun. Constant rotation of the same seven 90s songs blasting through the speakers – yes, including “I Will Walk 500 Miles”, 500 times. It’s fine.

We grabbed some seats and darling husband took on “man of the year” duties yet again, keeping Little D occupied in the shallow end, while I dove into my Kindle and the weeklies. Until it got too hot, i.e. 5 minutes later. So I went in to join them for a dip. It was Romper Room in there. Kids cannon-balling to my left, water-gunning to my right. Toddlers peeing in their swim diapers, I swear I even saw a dog or two jump in.

This is what family-friendly means, right?

Little D having a ball in her floatie thing, making friends, lining up for sno-cones.

Me practically rubbing up next to the lady in the lounger next to me, waiting almost an hour for a virgin daiquiri, and humming along to “If I get drunk, then I know I’m gonna be…”

It’s FINE. It’s family. But, friendly….? Next time, I think we’ll just go for luxe.

Moments before the "biggest splash" contest began...

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