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By Marti Mayne, with contributions from Sandy Soule, the ultimate B&B guru
As consultant to the B&B industry and the mother of two daughters, I guess you could call me a Mommy Inn-sider. Since they were young, my girls loved staying at B&Bs; of course, B&B manners were engrained early. Yet, I still admit to entering a few inns with trepidation that the valuable heirlooms might present too much temptation for wandering hands, but so far, so good
My girls appreciate the fact that innkeepers take an interest in them and create special treats at breakfast or evening dessert-time. They like the comfy beds and the chocolates that are sometimes left on their pillows. They love that there’s plenty to do. While my kids think all B&Bs are kid-friendly, my administering of an informal “kid-friendly test” has been the key to success in making our B&B trips so enjoyable.
Not all inns and B&Bs offer the right fit for families with children. Many travelers choose inns and B&Bs for romantic getaways and a break from the kids. Yet, even as recent economic instability has challenged the travel industry, family travel has remained steady and is now on the rise once again. Innkeepers have realized they can have their parents and kids too living harmoniously at the same inn. It’s not uncommon for inns and B&Bs to have one or more suites, lofts, cabins, or cottages, perfect for families and romantic couples to vacation together at the same property.
Five Family-Friendly Factors
Look for the following features to insure that the inn you choose offers a good family-fit.
- A convenient location: Minimize travel time; cramped kids are cranky kids. Find a B&B or inn that’s within a few hours drive and offers plenty of kid-friendly amusements along with activities for good weather and bad–sand castles to build, boats to row, mountains to climb, farm animals to feed, horses to ride or museums to visit.
- Appropriate accommodations: Look for an inn offering a family suite, cabin or cottage to give you extra space and privacy, so the kids’ lack of “volume control” won’t disturb others or make you tense. A B&B getaway is supposed to spell vacation for Mom and Dad too. Look for accommodations where everyone will sleep well and relaxation rules for each person.
- Food: Wine may work for Mom and Dad but when it comes to hungry kids, whine is more likely. Find innkeepers who understand that kids prefer teddy bear pancakes to eggs Benedict and offer both. A refrigerator for snacks is a plus and a guest pantry with complimentary snacks and beverages comes in handy for wining and whining.
- Family-friendly furnishings: Combine museum-quality antiques with young children and you get guaranteed stress. Teach your kids to respect property, but select accommodations with sturdy, comfortable and durable furnishings. Highly decorated inns and B&Bs with delicate collectibles are a disaster waiting to happen for itchy hands.
- Welcoming atmosphere: Find inns where children are truly appreciated. Look for family rates; games, puzzles, outdoor play equipment, cribs and special children’s programs and/or baby-sitters. Farm Stays where kids can chip in on the chores and play with the animals are a great option for families seeking a B&B experience. However close supervision of your children is your responsibility as a parent. Many innkeepers will note they accept well behaved children and parents!
For nearly 300 offers from inns and B&Bs in the US and Canada for free gas, gas credits and rewards for eco-travel this summer, visit www.BetterWaytoStay.com . There you can sort offers by state and find even more added value. Just click on the gas sign!