Traveling Mamas

Inspiring you to explore our world

  • Our family took a road trip from south Louisiana to the Ozarks of Missouri for a family vacation. We drove all day, taking our time to see various roadside attractions, such as the Natural Bridge of Arkansas. As we neared our destination, we could see a massive structure towering over a mountain overlooking Table Rock Lake. My son commented that the building looked a bit like Hogwart’s Castle. It was close to being that legendary. We were staying at the Chateau on the Lake Resort and Spa, Branson’s only AAA Four-Diamond resort.

    The Rooms: The property has 301 different rooms, including suites. We stayed in two rooms – A Lake View King and Lake View Double. They were connecting rooms and part of the Chateau’s Family Plan which offers 50% off the second room for families. Our king room included a sofa sleeper. The bathrooms in both rooms were spacious with standard tub/shower combo and a second sink in the bedroom area, convenient for “getting ready” time. All rooms have a 32” flat screen television and wi-fi (with additional charge).

    The Property: Situated at the top of a mountain, the Chateau on the Lake is impressive. Both kids had wide eyes from the moment we pulled into the parking lot, as they gazed at the indoor multi-story waterfall, and after we checked into our rooms. We walked around as a family to check out all the offerings, including Crawdaddies Kid Club (ages 4-12), the Sassafras Movie Theater with daily shows, and the various restaurants and cafes. Of course, there is an outdoor pool which was closed until the weather gets warmer, but the heated indoor pool more than made up for the lack of warm weather. There are tennis courts and access to the nearby marina. My daughter and I checked out the Spa Chateau one afternoon while the boys played a round of golf at the Payne Stewart Golf Course.

    My Mama Moment: The spa visit almost made my top Mama Moment, but I truly enjoyed a few stolen moments with my husband as we toasted each other for the life we’ve shared so far. It was a nice moment, as the kids have just turned old enough to leave in a hotel room alone for a bit and we were able to have a little parent time complete with his and her drinks.

    Pros: The property itself is so relaxing that I hated getting into our vehicle to visit the nearby attractions. The views from all the upper level rooms are spectacular, even those overlooking the parking lot! The staff (team members) always remembers names and each one has a smile. The property shuttle offers airport and marina service. There is even a children’s playground and the onsite Sweet Shoppe serves the best milkshakes making this a very family-friendly resort.

    Cons: The property is a little pricey, but that’s to be expected (it is a luxury resort, after all). I expected the marina to be closer, but once I saw that the resort is at the top of a mountain, I realized that the marina had to be a little walk away. No worries, the shuttle can drop you off and pick you up. The kids found the arcade a bit lacking (3 games total) but it didn’t stop my daughter from requesting more money for The Claw.

    Who Should Go: This property works well for families and couples alike. The conference facilities make it a great choice for group travel and even groups of girlfriends will enjoy the spa and dining onsite. Our family has enjoyed our time together at this luxury resort in Branson, Missouri. We will definitely plan a return visit to the area.

    Website: Chateau on the Lake Resort & Spa

    Special thanks to the Missouri Department of Tourism for assisting us with our family travel itinerary and Chateau on the Lake Resort for providing lodging. To plan your own family vacation to Missouri check out VisitMo.com

    Hotel Review on raveable

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  • If you were subscribed to our newsletter, you would’ve gotten this on Sunday.

    Spring Break is Here!

    The Hilton Capitol Center is not only downtown Baton Rouge, LA’s newest kid on the block, but it’s also a registered historic hotel with loads of charm. They’re the sponsor for this week and have graciously offered a two night romantic getaway (with dinner) to one lucky reader of TravelingMamas.com. Check out Baton Rouge Romantic EscapeTrip Contest for details on how you can enter this great giveaway.

    Hot Topics

    Spring break is here for my family and we’ve been planning a fun road trip – inland. TravelingMamas.com has partnered with the Missouri Department of Tourism to highlight one of many itineraries available on their official website: VisitMo.com. You can travel virtually with us on Twitter using the hashtag #MoTravel. Don’t despair if you don’t use Twitter, there’ll be plenty of follow-up posts on TravelingMamas.com. One of our stops is Silver Dollar City, which was featured on Undercover Boss Sunday night on CBS.

    Parents need a little romance and one destination that’s fabulous for couples (or anyone, really) is the Florida Keys. We’ve put together a list of the top romantic resorts in the Florida Keys. Each property was individually visited and checked out by yours truly, just to make sure readers of TravelingMamas.com are getting what they’re looking for. Start planning your dream trip to the Keys.

    Are you planning a spring break trip? We hear that New York City is a popular destination this week. Check out our post on Free Things to Do in NYC where you can even print out a handy reference sheet of attractions or save as a pdf to make your own itinerary. Just tick the small button at the bottom of the post!

    Travel Deals

    NYC – Speaking of NYC, Hotels.com has a super-cool NYC hotel deal. Here’s what they sent: Experience the thrills of New York City with Hotels.com’s exclusive deal. Book by March 31 for a two night stay at any of the top 25 New York hotels between now and April 30th and receive a $50 coupon to use on your next stay anywhere in the US. Sale goes live on Hotels.com this Monday, March 29, 2010 and ends on midnight, March 31, 2010 online. Use coupon code NYCE50 to redeem the $50 off for your next stay. Hotels.com also offers no cancellation fees and their Price Match Guarantee.  Those booking with Hotels.com can be assured they are getting the best deal, either online or by speaking to a travel expert at 1-800-HOTELS 24 hours a day. Check out their top NYC hotels and start planning.

    USVIWyndham Sugar Bay Resort & Spa announces up to 50 percent off room-only rates May 16 through June 30, 2010.  Visitors enjoy unprecedented discounts during their in-season travel period for reservations booked through May 31, and promotional rates are valid for travel through June 30, 2010. 

    (Details on actual savings) Resort view rooms receive a 55 percent discount at $186/night; Bay view rooms receive a 54 percent discount at $205/night; Ocean view rooms are priced at $224/night with a 52 percent discount; and ClearAir Water View rooms are priced at just $274/night at a 50 percent discount. Black out dates apply.  Subject to availability.  Rates are per room, per night based on single/double occupancy and subject to 18% tax and service charge.  Offer subject to change without notice.

    I hope that whatever you choose to do this week that it involves exploring. Sometimes we can’t always get out of town, but checking out the treasures in our own backyard can be just the thing! Have a great week and thanks for supporting TravelingMamas.com.

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  • The Reach Resort, part of the Waldorf Astoria Collection, is a luxury beachfront resort in Key West, Florida. This property is located one block from Duvall Street and sits on the only natural beach in the area. I checked out this property and found it to be an intimate hideaway for couples and adults making it perfect for a romantic escape.

    The Rooms: My room was a suite overlooking the beach and pool area. The living area was spacious but I spent most of my time at the pool or exploring Key West. The bedroom was a bit small, but with the living area and balcony it didn’t seem cramped. Bathroom had shower large enough for two and enough counter space for a couple.

    The Property: There was construction going on across the street, but that attests to how well the area is doing. Lobby décor was contemporary. This property is large and there was only one elevator area. The pool area was nice and big with drinks available from the bar in the restaurant. It was pretty quiet during the time I was visiting and my traveling companions and I had the pool to ourselves. The beach is fabulous being a private area on Key West’s only natural beach.

    My Mama Moment: Sitting in the pool after a long day of touring Key West, tropical drink in hand.

    Pros: The beach, pool, balcony and location. The property was very clean, even in nooks and crannies.

    Cons: Service. I had to lug my bags up the front steps to the lobby and then make the trek from the elevator to my room, which was located on the far end of the floor. I had to stop twice to rest and didn’t think I’d ever get there.

    Who Should Go: Couples and friends. I personally wouldn’t consider this a family resort, but more of an adult property. This isn’t to say that families wouldn’t be taken care of, just that the kids may find things lacking in the amenities area. My particular room had a shower, no tub, so those with itty bitty kids may have a time bathing them without getting drenched.

    Price: This property is part of The Waldorf Astoria Collection, which means it’s a bit higher on the room rate and should meet certain standards. I will admit that I expected a bit more from a property that has this title attached to it.

    Website: The Reach Resort, The Waldorf Astoria Collection

    Special thanks to The Reach Resort who hosted part of my visit in The Florida Keys.

    Hotel Review on raveable

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  • This is a Sponsored Post written by me on behalf of Kissimmee Tourism. All opinions are 100% mine.

    Kissimmee, Florida is a family travel destination with many attractions often overshadowed by popular area theme parks. I know that my family (my son in particular) wants to visit Universal Orlando’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which officially opens June 18. However, there are so many other places to explore while spending a holiday or vacation in the Kissimmee area.

    Near Kissimmee Florida - Hogwart's Castle at Universal Orlando's Wizarding World of Harry Potter

    I went online to the official Kissimmee website to see just what other activities were around and I was surprised to see just how close Kennedy Space Center is located. Kissimmee is also only a two hour drive to Gulf Coast area beaches.

    I love planning family vacations and we all get involved in the process. My husband finds golf and fishing relaxing while I’m a spa fan. Fortunately, Kissimmee offers choices for both of us. The kids have asked to return to Discovery Cove to swim with dolphins now that they are a bit older and barely remember their first experience. It seems like this destination is a family-wide pleaser that will keep every member happy.

    Where would you go if you went to Kissimmee? Have been there before? We’d love to hear about your favorite places or that spot you’re dreaming of going someday for your family vacation or holiday. Share it in the comments.

    Visit my sponsor: The Heart of Florida

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  • Have you ever considered Baton Rouge, LA as a romantic destination? I’ve lived in this area my entire life and a romantic getaway so close to home just wasn’t something I’d ever really thought about. During Mardi Gras season, my husband and I had a chance to experience downtown Baton Rouge with a night at the Hilton Capitol Center Baton Rouge for a soiree. I have to admit, I was pleasantly surprised (as was hubby) at just how romantic an evening away from the house, even in our local area, could be.

    Hilton Capitol Center Baton Rouge image copyright Hilton Hotels

    For years I watched the building now known as The Hilton Capitol Center experience extensive renovations. It used to be the old Heidelberg Hotel and the next door Capitol House, both which were vacant for decades. The Heidelberg was a favorite of former Louisiana Governor Huey “The Kingfish” Long and was even considered the governor’s mansion while the new mansion was being constructed.

    The Hilton Capitol Center is centrally located in downtown Baton Rouge within walking distance of attractions, various restaurants, and the vibrant downtown nightlife. Valet parking is available and couples can drive right up to the front door for assistance. Check in was a breeze and I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised by the elegant Art Deco era design. Our room was divine with the Art Deco theme continuing throughout the property and a balcony overlooking the Mississippi River.

    My husband and I really enjoyed our Baton Rouge romantic getaway and wish we would’ve stayed a second night. TravelingMamas.com and The Hilton Capitol Center wants you to have a similar experience and find romance in Red Stick (Baton Rouge, LA). The Hilton Capitol Center is offering a chance to win two nights with dinner at their property. How can you enter this romantic getaway giveaway?

    The Prize: 2 nights lodging at Hilton Capitol Center Baton Rouge, LA and dinner at Kingfish Restaurant. (Standard room type, based upon availability, blackout dates apply. Maximum value of dinner is $100.)

    Three Ways to Enter:

    1. Check out Baton Rouge’s Official Visitor Site and/or VisitSouth Baton Rouge site (me) and browse around. Leave a comment on this post telling us what else you’d do while you’re on your romantic weekend.
    2. Become a Facebook Fan of the Hilton Capitol Center Baton Rouge and come back here to leave a separate comment letting us know you’re a fan (winner must be a valid FB Fan to claim prize).
    3. Tweet this contest and be sure to use the hashtag #RedStickRocks. Come back here and leave a separate comment letting us know you tweeted about the giveaway.

    That’s it! Contest does not include transportation to Baton Rouge, LA but is open worldwide. Contestants must be 21 years of age or older. Contest ends April 6, 2010 at 11:59 CST. Randomly chosen winner (via Random.org) will be announced sometime on April 7 and notified by email. Winner will have three days to response with prize acceptance or prize will be forfeit and awarded to another entrant.

    Special thanks to Hilton Capitol Center Baton Rouge for providing this giveaway.

    Winner Update: Congrats to commenter 52 Trish who commented that she and her hubby would like to check out the Louisiana State Museum during their visit. Winning number generated on Random.org. Entries submitted after contest closing were ineligible.

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