Only at the hotel….

There are some things that I only do while staying at a hotel….

1. I watch tv in bed.

We don’t have a tv in our bedroom at home and haven’t had one in our bedroom for years. So watching tv in bed is really kind of a treat! Watching Food Network while wearing my jammies, well, that’s not anything new. But watching Food Network while wearing my jammies AND in bed?! Now, that’s something special.

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Also, aren’t those pajama pants the cutest?! Stitch! I got them from Wal-Mart but can’t seem to find them online (or else I would link to them…..).

2. I eat food in bed.

The very thought of eating in bed at home makes me cringe. Crumbs! Crumbs in the bed! Crumbs! And that leads to fears of…..Ants! Ugh! Ants in bed! Ahhh!

But when I’m staying at a hotel, my distaste for crumbs in a bed goes right out the window because one of my favorite things to do is eat cookies in a hotel bed. The easiest way to make a super cozy hotel bed even more cozy is by the addition of cookies.  And, in my opinion, the best kind of cookies to eat in a hotel bed are Chips Ahoy chewy chocolate chip cookies. (You have to get the chewy kind. They are superior.) I basically only buy them if we are staying in a hotel. Sure there might be crumbs in the bed….but I don’t have to wash the sheets!

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3. If there’s a gym on site, I will use it. And I will use it frequently.

It’s fun to be able to use equipment that I don’t regularly have access to. Since my regular routine consists of running outside or using the treadmill inside, it’s nice to be able to change that up. The last hotel that we stayed in had an elliptical, treadmill, and a bike. There was also a nice assortment of free weights. It’s nice to change it up but it’s also important to give your muscles a chance to work in a different way.

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Plus, there’s a pool! So, chances are really good, if I didn’t work out in the gym facility, I’m probably going to be taking the girls to the pool at some point. And if I did go to the gym AND hit the pool, well, that’s two workouts in one day! Yes!

 

What do you do while staying in a hotel that you only do while staying in a hotel?

 

 

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Disney’s Art of Animation – Resort Review

So, as you may have previously read, my family recently took a trip to Disney for the RunDisney Princess Half-Marathon weekend. I did the Fairy Tale Challenge (10K and half-marathon) and the girls both participated in the kids races (100m and 200m). As we do whenever we travel to DisneyWorld, we stayed at a resort on the Disney grounds. Our hotel this time? Art of Animation.

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Upon entering the resort, you can see right away that the animation theme is in full effect. There are animation sketches on the walls of the lobby and on the chandeliers (some of my favorite chandeliers ever!)

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There are four different sections with very distinct designs – Lion King, Finding Nemo, The Little Mermaid, and Cars. We stayed in a family suite in the Finding Nemo area. I will go ahead and say that I think that the Finding Nemo section is probably the best if you are staying with younger kids. It’s the closest to the big pool, the playground, and the quick service food option, store, and lobby. We have stayed in the Little Mermaid area before, and it’s a fun design but it’s definitely a longer walk. Long walks after a day at the park (or a day running) with small children and tired feet is always something to take into consideration when planning your stay.

Everything about the design is larger than life. The huge scale makes it feel as though you are a little fish in this big big world.

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Of course, not all of the design elements are huge…..be on the lookout for hidden Mickeys!

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Hidden Mickey – in the bubble design of the carpet

Check out the pictures of the Finding Nemo family suite here. There was plenty of room  for the four adults and two kids that were staying with us. The girls slept on the table bed – I wish I could find a video of that thing unfolding so you could see just how easy it was to turn the table into a bed. Very easy and the girls slept very well. Ryan and I slept on the sleeper sofa. It wasn’t as comfortable as a bed. Sleeper sofas rarely are. But, I was exhausted each night so was able to fall asleep (except for when the pre-race jitters would keep me awake, which honestly was a large portion of each night.)

Also, since we stayed in the family suite, there was a kitchenette. Do not plan on preparing full meals using the kitchenette. But, it’s great to store and reheat some leftovers.

There is only one restaurant option here and this quick service option is ok. Lots of family friendly options and probably something to fit every craving that you are having at any time of day. However, at least when we were there, it seemed that no matter what time you were there to eat, there was absolutely no sense of urgency among the employees working there. Everything, from placing an order to paying for your food, took way more time than it needed to. When you are trying to feed a hungry kid or someone who just ran a half-marathon…..you really don’t want to wait in line longer than you need to. The lines were crazy during peak meal time but they were also crazy during every other time of the day as well. When you can see employees just standing around and talking when there are huge lines of people, it doesn’t really reflect well on your dining experience. (There was never a time when I saw every available register was open and being used…..that definitely would have cut down on the lines.)

One of the best parts of the quick service option is that you can take your food out to the pool. One night, for dinner, I grabbed a ready-to-go large cheese pizza and some drinks. This is actually a pretty good deal for Disney food because the pizza is huge! We brought leftovers back to the room. In addition, if you have the Disney dining plan, you will find many options to choose from for each meal and snack.

For the adults, perhaps one of the best parts of the pool area, is the pool bar!  The drinks were delicious and strong (!!!!!). And best of all , the bartenders all seemed to really enjoy their jobs. 🙂 You can enjoy your beverage in the bar area, or by the pool.

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The number one reason to stay on site when traveling to Disney, in my opinion, is the ease of transportation. Yes, the Disney design is fun and each resort has it’s own unique design and different level of Disney-ness. It’s always fun to keep the Disney atmosphere with you all day, whether or not you are in a park. However, transportation is key!

The schedule for the race weekends begins very early in the morning. Yes, on the morning of the half-marathon, I was on the bus at 3:30am. 3:30am. Gross. The early mornings were, well, really early.

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It was so nice to not have to worry about parking…..or driving anywhere during this weekend. However, the Disney transportation is definitely a benefit whenever you are staying. Some of the hotels have boat or monorail transportation to get you from the parks back to your hotel. And at some resorts, you are so close that you can simply walk to the park. However, they all have buses. We used the bus to get to the Expo, to the race starts, and to get to Disney Springs for dinner, snacks, and to see Black Panther.

Would we stay at Art of Animation again? Of course! This was already our second time staying at the resort. It is one of the Value resorts (very important!!), you get the ease of Disney transportation and a fun Disney design everywhere you turn. The girls loved coming back to the hotel room and seeing the giant Crush the Turtle right outside the door!

Key Takeaways:

Fun design. Very kid friendly. Loads of large character sculptures around the buildings and the pool.

Rooms are a fun design and can easily accommodate a large family.

Design is very Disney. Many of the resorts have a subtle Disney design. This is not one of one those resorts.

Food options are plentiful but be prepared to wait. And wait. And wait. And there is only one restaurant at the resort.

Transportation is right outside the lobby. Although Art of Animation only has buses at this time, they definitely get you where you need to go and you don’t need to worry about renting a car, driving, and parking.

 

 

Seriously, Why Are Hotel Beds So Amazing?

Hotel beds are amazing. The mattresses always feel perfect. The sheets have some sort of spectacular thread count. But, perhaps my favorite part of staying in a hotel is that, well, it’s not your bed. Obviously. But, bear with me on this one. We recently had a staycation of sorts and stayed at Pheasant Run. Our hotel room was huge with lots of space for our family of four, even with the rollaway bed that was brought in for baby girl. The pools were nice. (The indoor/outdoor pool was a big hit.) And the workout facility was nice with lots of equipment to use.

But, perhaps my favorite part, was just climbing into bed at the end of the night, watching some Food Network and eating cookies. In bed.

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Yep. Now, will I eat cookies in bed at home? Goodness, no! Crumbs! Crumbs everywhere! But, when staying at a hotel, this is one of my favorite things to do. Climb into the comfy bed, watch a few shows, and eat some junk food. *sigh*

What’s your favorite part of a staycation?