Teresa and Robert's: "Adults-Only" Resort
Teresa and Robert, a couple from Palo Alto, CA, had located a very lavish resort that unfortunately proved inauspicious to both their baby taking and making needs. Teresa and Robert already had one youngster, 18 month-old Travis, and wanted another baby when I first spoke with them last year about their baby-travel experiences. Teresa, an associate dean at a college, and Robert, a CPA, were both working over 55 hours a week (which required Travis to spend most of his time with Teresa's mother at her house in Mountainview). The couple had been charting Teresa's ovulation cycles since she had stopped nursing Travis at about three months old, in hopes of getting pregnant again--but yet to no avail. Teresa's Ob/Gyn suggested that they begin some costly fertility tests. Not thrilled by this idea, Teresa and Robert decided to instead book a room at a very exclusive resort in the Monterey Bay area, which had been touted in a prestigious travel magazine, for three of Teresa's peak days of the month. Since Teresa's mother was sick during this time, they decided to take Travis along with them, and they reserved a low-end room for $400.00 a night, which did boast a partial ocean view, but was surprisingly small for the price. The more upscale rooms and suites went as high as $3,650 a night.
Teresa said that as soon as she rolled Travis into the lavish lobby in his stroller, she felt distasteful looks being shot her way by the staff. "Travis was the only baby in the lobby, and it seemed to be primarily a 60-plus crowd that they were catering to. Every time Travis made a baby noise, heads turned, as if they were scared he was going to suddenly destroy their calm environment. I felt overly watched and conspicuous."
Robert requested a crib when he checked in, but as soon as it arrived, they both knew they would never put their baby in it, as it was in dilapidated condition. They could pull slivers of wood from the planks with barely any effort. Since Travis was still teething, they knew he would put his mouth on the planks, and possibly swallow some wood. As a result, they were forced to put Travis to sleep with them in their bed, which not only undermined their purpose in being there, but also made Teresa feel uneasy because of the reports on potential suffocation and strangulation hazards involved with infants or very young children sleeping in beds with adults. When traveling, a safe crib is convenient not only as a place for the baby to sleep, but also for providing a secure and contained environment within which the baby can play--particularly if the room has not been baby-proofed, as in this case.
Robert recalls the most awkward part of the trip being the evening they attempted to dine in the hotel's stylish restaurant. That afternoon, Teresa called the concierge and, hoping for some alone time with her husband that night, asked if the hotel provided a bonded baby-sitting service. The concierge replied that she could recommend a few services, but she cannot guarantee that they are bonded--not a comforting response for Teresa.
They therefore brought Travis in his stroller into the resort's restaurant with them that night. "What a mistake!" Robert remarked. "I can laugh about it now, but we weren't laughing that night." He described the restaurant as "formal and refined with a wide assortment of expensive seafood dishes, but not at all baby-friendly." The high chair offered to them was in the same kind of condition as the crib. Wobbly, squeaky, and constructed out of cheap and rusty aluminum, it seemed more like an emblematic token than something in which conscientious parents would realistically place their child. They consequently kept Travis in his stroller during the meal, creating something of an obstacle for the other customers passing around their table--and generating more irritated looks. The restaurant was not spacious, and a mature couple that the waiters called by name was practically pressed up against Robert and Teresa's table. The man heaved a heavy sigh when he had to get up and maneuver himself around Travis' stroller one time during his meal.
When Teresa placed some small toys on the small table, attempting to keep Travis entertained in his stroller, the waiters looked at them, Robert recounted, "as if repulsed." Teresa had asked the waiter for a cup of hot water (to warm Travis' milk), and he looked at her for a long moment, said nothing, turned abruptly, and left. He returned awhile later with the hot water, which he silently placed on the table.
The food was savory and well presented, but took quite awhile for arrival. Travis had been in the restaurant for an hour and a half (longer than most tots can tolerate), when he began to cry in the midst of the meal. Heads turned and the other customers studied the three of them. The most unnerving part of the evening was when the maitre'd rushed over to their table and stood directly over them, silently expressing his irritation. "This was the biggest slap in the face," Teresa related. "Toddlers cry, and we were paying a hefty price for the room and the meals--maybe not by their standards, but by most. Yet, we were given no tolerance for our situation. Normally, I would have held Travis or rocked him in the stroller for a few minutes until he stopped crying. But with this man standing over me like that, I felt compelled to leave the restaurant with Travis and push him around in the hallway." By the time Travis had been soothed and fallen asleep, allowing Teresa to return to the restaurant, her swordfish dinner had of course grown cold.
Robert cited another alienating incident at this resort. On the first night, the maid doing the turndown service had left a small box of truffles on the bed that Teresa had loved and was looking forward to the next evening. When the maid came the following evening, she started to place two peppermints on the bed, and Robert asked if they could instead have the truffles. The maid surveyed a list hanging on her cart, and bluntly replied: "No, you are not on the VIP list." Robert said that he could hardly believe the rudeness of this comment. "We were given truffles last night," he told her. To his astonishment, she responded: "That was a mistake."
Teresa said that the resort's extravagance far from compensated for the icy snobbery she felt towards her whole family there: "This resort attracts the money-is-no-object crowd, and the staff lets you know your status among their pecking order. Our objectives were not achieved on this trip, and it felt like an enormous waste of money." Many high-end resorts are simply not child-friendly.