Yes, gas prices are obscene. And, yes, you probably feel like strangling yourself with the hose every time you fill up. Life is short. Don't shorten it.
The challenging economic climate aside, there is good news for travelers this summer: Hotel chains are pulling out the stops to lure families. More and more hotels are adding perks, such as giving guests a gas credit card or voucher good for up to $25. Smart move.
To start you on your search for the perfect summer getaway, here are representative perks offered by some top national chains. Consider this a sampler and bear in mind that discounts and extras may vary from state to state and property to property.
For the latest info, check the hotel websites then call the 800 number and speak to a reservationist. They usually have the last word.
tel. 800/780-7234; www.bestwestern.com
Kids 12 and younger stay free with their parents. Most hotels offer free breakfast or a complimentary expanded continental breakfast; a gas card or a discount on rooms with a gas receipt, and coupons for nearby convenience stores. Every little bit helps. Those cash outlays for snacks add up.
tel. 800/EMBASSY; www.embassysuites.com
Kids 18 and under stay free. Enjoy a complimentary cooked-to-order breakfast, bedroom with king or two doubles, separate living room with sofa bed for the munchkins, Nintendo, refrigerator/wet bar, discounted tickets to attractions. The Embassy Kids (www.embassykids.com) "Build-A-Bear Workshop Sleep Over Pack" includes a small bear and stylish outfit plus games.
Hyatt Hotels and Resorts
tel. 800/800-233-1234; www.hyatt.com
Kids under 18 stay free in same room or pay half price for the second room. Babies have free use of cribs and there's free use of the pool and health club (a parent/companion must accommodate kids under 16). You'll find kids' menus in restaurants and for room service. Hey, bring the grandparents: Those 62 and older receive up to 50% off.
tel. 800/KIMTPON; www.kimptonhotels.com
Come for discounts up to 25% off regular rates -- and bring the family pooch. As part of KimptonKids, little ones get milk and cookies and a welcome gift on arrival along with complimentary use of cribs, kid-size animal print robes, books, games, and videos. Families receive an in-room safety kit. At some hotels, kids also enjoy the company of a goldfish for the duration of their visit. The Hotel Monaco Alexandria (Virginia) has a Doggy Happy Hour on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
tel. 888/236-2427; www.courtyard.com
Weekend rates dip as low as $79-$129 per night and some properties have a pool (most have a fitness center). A cooked-to-order breakfast is included in the room rate and a lobby "market" stocks drinks, dry snacks, ice cream and such. Though geared to business travelers, it's a good -- and reasonable -- alternative for families. Marriott is offering $25 Visa gift cards to guests. Check the site for details.
St. Regis Hotels & Resorts
tel. 877/787-3447; www.stregis.com
Though the St. Regis is hardly a bargain-seeker's paradise, kids 16 and under stay for free in a parent's room. And Family Packages include meal discounts for your tykes. At some locations, you may want to take advantage of the Taste of Luxury package, where guests get the fourth night free.
Sheraton Hotels & Resorts
tel. 800/325-3535; www.sheraton.com
Check out the "Timely Offers" at Sheraton's website. You may want to consider the Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort and Spa near Phoenix where rooms start at $90 a night. Sightsee early and cool off in one of 3 large free-form pools (one with a waterslide and waterfall) or take a boat ride on the man-made replica of Gila Lake. Enjoy weekend movies. Crank up the air-conditioning.
Westin Hotels & Resorts
tel. 800/937-8461; www.westin.com
As part of The Westin Kids Club, youngsters 3 to 12-years-old receive a WKC bag with colored pencils, map, make-a-postcard kit and hat. Infants get a toy, night light, and first-aid accoutrements. Family-friendly programs are held in the Discovery Room -- games, movies, craft projects -- where kids receive their very own Discovery Pack with a toss-away camera, compass, canteen and snack.
Beth Rubin is the author of Frommer's Washington, D.C. With Kids.
Talk with fellow Frommer's travelers on our Family Travel Message Boards today.