Hotels are offering good deals on family packages

Taking the Kids

July 14, 1996|By Eileen Ogintz | Eileen Ogintz,LOS ANGELES TIMES SYNDICATE

Uh oh. It's July and you haven't made firm vacation plans yet.

The kids are begging to try one of those gigantic hotel pools with attached water slide that they see on TV ads six times a day. Your spouse, meanwhile, tells you in no uncertain terms that you won't spend this vacation visiting either side of the family.

You do have a little money put aside. You've even got the time off scheduled at work. So grab the phone and start making some reservations.

Many hotels and resorts are offering specials for families this summer. More people from households with children plan to travel than those from households without children, the Travel Industry Association of America and the American Automobile Association say in their summer travel forecast.

Here are some of the deals hotels and resorts hope will make you jump up and dial their reservation number.

Rates and programs

About 160 Marriotts offer a deal that enables a family to get a free breakfast daily. Use your Visa cards, and kids willing to eat from the kids' menu can get free lunch and dinner while mom and dad get 25 percent off the dinner check.

Summer rates are 30 percent off regular rates, starting at $69 a night. All Marriott resorts now feature children's programs. Ask about late Sunday checkout. Call (800) 228-9290 or check their Web site http: //

"There's still plenty of room, but don't wait too long," says a spokesman.

Radisson's "Family Magic" program at participating properties includes a complimentary breakfast for a family of four, a 25 percent discount for a second room and a Crayola Kids Magic Kit for grade-schoolers (the little kids are out of luck here) with stickers, magic tricks and a giant map, so the kids can track their travels.

Designated "Family Approved" Radissons will provide child-proofing safety kits that include electric-outlet covers and night lights. The kits were developed with the Center for Injury Prevention. In addition, playpens and cribs, children's games and videos and librarian-approved books will be available at no extra charge for families to use. Call (800) 333-3333 or visit the new Web site at http: //

Not to be outdone, Hilton Hotels has stocked its Hilton Vacation Stations, offered at more than 80 Hiltons, with toys from Clue to Tinkertoys to Sega America's portable game systems. Babies get a free bib, while older kids get a wrist carrier that holds a small, collapsible kite.

For those looking for a long weekend deal, ask about Hilton's BounceBack Weekend. Rates start at $75 a night and include free continental breakfast for everyone. Don't forget to ask about late checkouts. Call (800) HILTON or browse the Hilton Internet Center at http: //

Best Western Hotels says its Family Plan offers something for everyone. Families will get discounts for everything from theme parks to national-park entrance fees to movie theaters to free in-room movies and pizzas. Parents can book a second room at '' 25 percent off and feed the kids free (from children's menus).

If you're a postcard collector and have old postcards that feature Best Western, mail it with your name, address and phone number to 50th Anniversary Postcard Contest, Best Western International, 6201 N. 24th Parkway, Phoenix, Ariz. 85016. First prize: A new Plymouth Voyager and a two-week driving vacation for four, staying at Best Western Hotels. Visit Best Western's home page at http: //

Nights and activities

Hyatt's Summer Choices packages include a free night with a minimum three-night stay; families also get free or discounted activities from a free horseback ride to a round of golf. Children can order what they like from Hyatt menus for half price: Second rooms also are half price. Call Hyatt at (800) 233-1234 or on the Internet at http: //

Ready to book those reservations now? Before picking up the phone, remember that to get the best deal, ask first about family packages and giveaways. Does the second room connect to yours? Are the free meals only from the children's menu, which many kids outgrow about the time they finish kindergarten? Are there tie-ins with airlines or rental cars?

What about children's programs? If they're not included, they can run upward of $40 a day per child, substantially denting the vacation budget.

Once you make the decision to go and are satisfied you've gotten the best deal you can, try not to worry about every dollar the kids spend. That will wreck a vacation faster than endless rain.

You've earned the break. Now go out and enjoy it.

Pub Date: 7/14/96

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