Family of Four Sleeping Dilemma: Standard Room or Suite

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When my second daughter was an infant, choosing a hotel room was actually really simple. When possible, we wanted a room that offered a place to put her crib/pack-and-play that was away from the rest of us in order to maximize every second of sleep that was possible. That could mean a suite, or a second bathroom, or a large bathroom, or even a nice walk-in closet. Now, she is almost three years old, and we are thankfully well passed the crib and pack-and-play situation, but choosing which hotel room is best is actually getting tougher as the girls get older.

 

Baby travel hack!

Rollaway beds vs. double beds

The household hotel sleeping debate was recently reignited because we have an upcoming return trip to the fantastic Andaz Costa Rica resort to kick off the summer. Last year, Josh and I went to this resort without the kids, so of course, the Andaz Suite was a fantastic spot for us to spread out and enjoy living the kid-free life of luxury for a couple nights.

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This 1,173 square foot suite has a bright and airy living room, an oversized main bathroom with a soaking tub and walk-in rain shower, as well as an additional half bathroom. Despite all of that, it is blessedly still considered a standard suite in the World of Hyatt program. This means you can use a confirmed Globalist Upgrade, potentially score an upgrade at check-in, or even book it outright with just 24,000 points per night, though I don’t frequently see that option available at this specific property.

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This time around we originally passed over on the suite and booked the standard room with two double beds using 15,000 World of Hyatt points per night for our family of four. We booked this return trip many, many months ago, but as the travel date approached, I’ve started doubting that sleeping strategy. I don’t have a photo of the standard room with two double beds, but I did see a standard room with one king bed as shown below. The room was beautiful and spacious for a standard room, but the idea of spending several nights of the four of us sharing double beds when we could spread out in a suite has me doubting my decision-making capabilities. This is especially true because we are going during the start of the rainy season, so we may be indoors more during the rainy parts of the day.

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Family travel musical beds

The heart of the issue is that when we booked the trip, our newly two-year-old was simply at a different phase than she is now almost a year later. The only real option then was all being right together in two (small) beds as we had just graduated from the crib. Now, I think that booking the larger suite and playing musical beds with the rollaways may make more sense than putting all four of us right next to each other in beds much smaller than we are used to at home. But let’s be real, I’m under no illusions that my two kids are going to happily crawl in two rollaway beds in the living room and stay there for the duration of the trip. Maybe that will happen a few years down the road, but not today.

This is clearly a ‘first class’ sort of problem, but the risk of going for the suite over the room with two real beds is that it is the adult(s) who end up on the rollaway beds while the kids cozy up in the real bed. Most likely it is one adult who ends up in the rollaway while the other adult + kids take over the massive bed. It probably isn’t a surprise that 6’3″ Josh isn’t going to be thrilled when he draws the rollaway-bed-straw.

Family travel requires constant adjustments

If I’ve learned anything after over eight years of family travel, it is that there is no such thing as getting your family travel routine down pat, because every time you think that you do, someone hits a new developmental phase and the whole situation shifts. The secret is continuing to be flexible and re-evaluating your strategies to adjust for the current situation. Something you book a year in advance may not look the same as the travel date approaches. I know as families with multiple children shift into the teenage years, the discussion often turns to a second bedroom, or even to an Airbnb type of property. We aren’t quite there yet, but with our 8 and almost 3-year-olds, I think we will be trading our standard room with two double beds for the suite with some rollaways and just see what happens.

Regardless of what our sleeping arrangements ultimately look like, here’s where you will be able to find us most of the time…at least when it isn’t raining too hard.

I’ll share some of how the musical bed adventures go in Stories on Instagram while we are in Costa Rica, and of course, write up the ‘lessons learned’ from this next phase of family travel once the dust, er pillows, settle. How has your family managed each sleeping transition while on the road? When did you make the jump from real beds to spreading out in rollaways?

 

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Comments

  1. Hey MP, we are doing the same trip in August this year, with a family of 4 (kids are 6 and 9). We are spending 4 nights at Andaz and then going south to Manuel Antonio area. Unfortunately, we don’t have status and will be doing the two double bed sharing. However, since we travel so much with our kids, everyone is just used to this arrangement. Is it perfect? No. But quite honestly, we don’t plan on spending that much time in the room as that is not what vacation is about. Most the time, everyone is so exhausted by the time we get back to the room that this arrangement is not an issued. For us, it makes more since to do the double bed (usually 2 queens) and be able to do more trips than to pay extra points for suite upgrades.

    On a related subject, are you going ot do a post on activities you are planning? I am starting to look at what to do with the kids and would love to see a post with recommendations.

  2. Just had a similar experience…booked a Maui trip for my wife and me, thought we’d try a resort this trip (usually stay in a condo) and got a great price on a prepaid Vistana experience. No refunds. Later decided to take our kids, no hope from the hotel to upgrade the room. So we crammed into a very small room, it was very tight. But it worked, we had a nice trip (and decided that condos were still the way to go on Maui). It’ll work out, just keep your room well organized 🙂

  3. Have you considered connecting rooms so everyone gets their own bed? We’re doing that when we go the Ziva Cancun. The kids will use the room with two beds and we’ll sleep in the king bed, with the door propped open, as well as having a video monitor in their room. Sure, it’s extra points, but to me it’s worth getting the downtime each night since they go to bed around 7.

  4. My kids are 6 and 7, but when they were 3 and 4 we found that double doubles were the way to go as one parent and one kid fits just fine, even in a small Singaporean “double” bed (which was slightly wider than a US twin). But now that they are 6 and 7, it’s usually biting the bullet and getting two queens in the Americas or two rooms in Europe or Asia.

  5. Stayed at this Andaz last summer with my family of 5, and got two connecting rooms, one with the king and the other with 2 beds. The Andaz actually provided a rollaway so the boys each had their own bed. The rollaway was more substantial than most and this set up was great for us. We purposely DON’T do the suite thing when we travel because my husband and I do not want the sleeper sofa or rollaways!

  6. The beauty of booking hotels in the US is that you can have 4 people in the same room. Our two boys are still under 12 so easy to just accommodate all 4 of us in the same room. Well, that is not the case in Europe where they do not allow more than 3 people in most of their rooms so it becomes very expensive to either redeem points or pay for rooms since you either need 2 rooms or a suite. That will be the case for our upcoming summer vacation with nights at Park Hyatt Milan ad St Regis in Florence. I needed to book 2 standard rooms for each night in each hotel. Very expensive but tks to points it made it a bit easier to swallow. 🙂

  7. My kids are about the same age as yours, 7 and 3. For us, the key is being able to physically separate them from us. If the suite is nothing more than a larger room it’s useless to me I would rather just take the smaller standard room. If there’s a door I can shut it makes a big difference. This way we can put the kids to bed at different times and have a separate area for the adults once they are all asleep. We are not a family where the adults go to sleep with the kids so that would never happen to us. If the suite has a separate door, I would do that as long as the cost wasn’t crazy.

  8. We would get one rollaway and put it in the room with two double beds. Two adults in one real bed, one kiddo in one bed, one kiddo in rollaway (alternating nights with which kid gets what if it’s an issue). We don’t have enough points/status to do suites but we don’t think our kids would share one bed well.

    • This would be ideal, but I’ve found that most hotels will not allow a rollaway in a room that already has two beds for fire code reasons. My kids (13 yo girl and 10 yo boy) refuse to share a bed, which I understand. No one wants to share a bed with dad either because he snores! We have resorted to traveling with an air mattress for the last few years, but I suspect that we are headed towards the two room option sooner than later. Ugh.

  9. We had two connecting rooms, one with king and the other with what they called double beds. There were six of us and we still used two rollaways. The double beds were very small, such that our two teenagers pretty much each took up an entire bed. I would not try to sleep an adult and a child in them, never mind two adults. You will definitely want to try either a suite (if they are willing to put two rollaways in, they are quite large and comfortable rollaways) or, if you have the points for it, connecting rooms. My choice would be the connecting rooms.

  10. We have three kids…and, yeah. It is just getting harder to find a hotel room, period, that will accommodate us without it being an uncomfortable bed situation. If I want to find a room on points? Even tougher.

    I think my strategy is going to have to shift to prioritizing free flights, and booking whichever room(s) I want that will suit our travel. If I can do it on points, cool. If not, well, I’m getting the room I need. I don’t have the Citi Prestige yet, but I think that card will come in handy for us on down the road as long as they keep their 4th night benefit.

  11. We have 3 kids as well…At this point Im willing to keep “sneaking” in the 3rd kid into a room instead of doing two rooms or a suite. If this means one or two is on the floor, then thats how it will be.

  12. We have a 6 and 10 year old and when we stayed at the Andaz Papagayo in March, we opted for the standard king room. Originally I had the standard doubles room booked but then I read that the doubles were actually closer to twin sized beds and I knew that wouldn’t work. They provided us with one rollaway complimentary (it was a substantially nice rollaway too) and then we brought our Aerobed. There was plenty of room for both. The kids actually fought over the Aerobed! We also proabbly could have fit the 6 year old in the king with us as the king seemed huge to me.

  13. Thanks for the write up. We’ll be spending the week of the 4th of July here with our 3 year old. From my understanding, it’s the rainy/slow season during this time, so in theory, we should be able to use the Kids Club? Oh, and I’m assuming it would be advisable to bring a stroller along due to how spread out it is? We’re looking forward to it!

    • BTW, we’re confirmed in a King Forest view, but we have this sleeper cot that packs up like a duffel bag that’s perfect for our daughter. Thus, forget 2 queens, we’ll have the king for mommy/daddy, and the sleeping cot for the 3 year old! It’s all pink and princess-ey too, so she loves it. It’s a special use bed with sleeping bag built into it.

  14. I only have one child – she turns 6 in a couple of weeks. If we’re traveling for a long period of time, I will book a suite to ensure we can spread out but typically I’ll book double beds and it will be fine.

    We did stay at the Andaz Papagayo, had a king bed and they provided a rollaway (it was really nice). My mom and nephew where in the next room with double beds. Although the size of the room is decent, it would be too tight for 4 people.

  15. As a family of four we used to do the two double beds and made due with what we had. A few years back we started staying at timeshares and since then, hotel rooms don’t cut it. Its so nice to have separate rooms and space to spread out. Most can be found at a reasonable rate renting from owners. We have since purchased a timeshare and have traveled to multiple places in the USA and on those few times we needed to stay in a hotel room its almost unbearable to go back to two double beds.

    • Have said it before, MP, & now Brian has said it for me again – timeshare! Break down & buy a 2-br from Westin/Vistana, & it will change your vacations forever. Full kitchen, w/d, 1,200 – 2,000 sq ft of spce, multiple pools, family friendly – a perfect complememt to your points & miles strategies.

      • I agree…I don’t even worry about points for hotels anymore except for the free nights from various Marriott, Hyatt and IHG credit cards. They supplement the Timeshare stays when you need to arrive a day early or leave a day late. I own at Holiday Inn Club Vacations and absolutely love it. The points options are great. I can stay in anything from a studio to a 4 bedroom in 26 resorts across the US at anytime of the year.

        • Automatic lifetime status is also a huge plus for the hotel stays. Some of the companies also allow the purchase of points at a good discount. I remember I could purchase up to 660,000 SPG points at .02068 cents/point for use in extending stays as you point out, Brian.

          Buying in with a young family is the best time, in my opinion. A family-friendly property will certainly be used until the kids are older, then can be used at more adult-type places within the program. Then you have it as a grandparent to use for you and the gkids and/or gift trips to the kids and their families. Then leave it to family in your will (along with a life insurance policy to pay the HOA) – truly a cradle to grave purchase.

          Locking in the price now is a huge benefit if you are potentially looking at 50 years of use. For frequent travelers with families & some discretionary spend, it is the best use of vacation dollars by far if doing long-range planning. In the short term, the whole idea is otherwise a big bust, and timeshare companies count on breakage from people who do not properly plan their finances.

          The options available at ski resorts are fantastic and provide much-needed room for addtl clothing and staying in when everyone is tired from a day on the slopes. Timeshares are not for everyone, especially people not really committed to travel and the sacrifices of time/energy/money necessary to plan and execute trips. But for many people reading this blog, it can dovetail quite nicely with what you are likely already doing and save money and time in the process over the long term.

          • I couldn’t agree more. I purchased when my kids were 8 and 10. I bought enough timeshare points that when I retire I can stay 4 or 5 months in the warm weather. I was able to buy resale which saved me a ton of money. Until I get to retire I rent out my points that I don’t use and it covers my yearly maintenance.

  16. When they were tiny we’d just book a standard, show up and hope status would net an upgrade. Sometimes not, but we tolerated it.

    For travel in Europe (London & Paris) what works best for me now is this:

    Verify suites or family rooms are available on your dates for cash
    Book a standard room on points
    Call hotel and work with relationship mgr on paid upgrade

    This also seems to me often cheaper than burning points on 2 rooms.

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