I spent the better part of Sunday trying to plan our summer vacation. It started out as a fun exercise, looking at all the pretty pictures of hotels and beaches, picking room types that were outrageously expensive and dreaming a little, then crashing to reality and trying to pick places that were in our budget and met our needs. We had simple needs, or so I thought. We wanted a trip that involved one flight, restaurants that could understand and deal with our food allergies, and resorts that were family friendly. There were two basic signs that I looked for in determining if a resort was family friendly; that there was a mention of a “kids club” or play facilities on the website, and that you could actually add children to the room to get a price quote. That narrowed the field considerably, but I still had a list of 20 or so possible places.
At this point I did what I always do when I am researching something. I built a spreadsheet. It listed all of the pertinent details, and might have had pro and con columns. The research was slow, as almost all of the hotels used the same archaic software to generate their room quotes. Every time I changed one variable (like room type or meal options) it required that I re-enter many of the other variables. I was planning a family vacation that involved a beach, so I pushed through. Then I noticed that I had to keep changing the number of lils in my room from two to one to get a quote. When I left it at two, I would get one of two errors; either “there are no rooms available that match your search criteria” or “you must book two rooms for your needs”. It happened so often that I had to keep checking to make sure that I had not messed up and kept looking in the same hotel.
This seemed an odd quirk at first, but when approximately 90% of the family friendly hotels came back with this result, I began to get upset. At first I thought that I might get a better result if I talked to the hotel, but the ones that I reached stuck to the line that the rooms could not accommodate us, so we either upgraded to a larger room, or we got two (sometimes not even adjoining rooms). I could understand if I was trying to book a room for a group that included older children or adults, but mine are little. They don’t take up a lot of space, they can’t stay on their own, and we are going on a family vacation FFS. Even if I thought it was a good idea to leave them alone, it would not have gone well. In reality, we would have either split the family or all slept in one room any way, likely in the same bed!
Perseverance and some great recommendations from friends paid off, and we picked a resort that will allow us all to stay in the same room, without charging a premium. The others, which included both big chains and small independent hotels, won’t get any of our money, especially not the extra money that they were trying to extort from us! I wonder if they would have been more flexible if we weren’t calling in the low season, and they could have filled those two rooms with two families of four.