We live in San Diego, a tourist destination for millions of visitors annually. Our family does an above-average job at enjoying the city. You’d be surprised how few locals regularly do. But we’ve folded things like the beach, Balboa Park, the San Diego Zoo, Sea World, and stuff like that into our normal lives. Our kids actually complain that they get bored of all of those things. And yes, we guilt trip them that families save for years to come here on vacation. It is our duty.
Last week, Kristen and I decided we needed to do something for the kids over Spring Break. (They have 2 weeks off.) After looking into Las Vegas and Palm Springs we found a great deal at the Hilton Bayfront. They have a spring break deal that included free parking, a $50 daily room credit, and a free in-room movie… all wrapped in a room rate that was on par with everything else we were finding. All very kid-friendly. Plus, Kristen heard that they were opening their new pool area, and the kids really wanted some pool time.
Hotel Booking Tips
Always join the hotel loyalty program prior to booking. Even if you just link your account to an airline account you’ll want to earn points for every stay AND most hotel chains offer perks to loyalty members, regardless of point balance. Even if you aren’t a frequent traveler, just do it. Trust me.
In this case, while I don’t have any status with Hilton Honors, being a member gave me access to an “if available” upgrade to a suite. I checked the box… why not?
Also, use the booking sites to get a ballpark price and to see what’s available. But do your actual booking on the hotel’s website. Almost every hotel website has a page for specials that consistently beat the deals you’ll find on Travelocity, Priceline, or Orbitz. I’ve been doing that for the last couple of years and I almost always get a better price and always get better perks.
The Suite Life
Because of my work I’ve had and been in a whole bunch of hotel suites around the country. This was my first time in a suite at the Bayfront and I’ve got to say… totally impressed. Lots of square footage, great views of the harbor, and nice amenities. And unlike a lot of suites at big name hotels nothing felt dated or tired. Great colors, nice furniture, granite countertops, nothing damaged and nothing awkward.
The extra space let us spread out and totally unwind. You could just see it in the kids posture, they felt like ballers staying in a big luxury hotel in one of the best rooms. (They had their own keys… Paul kept his.) While we would have had a great time in a regular room having the suite just kind of took everything to another level.
The Service, the Location, the Pool & the Buffet
Four things pop out to me as memorable about our stay at the Bayfront.
- Service makes the difference at every hotel, regardless of quality. What I liked about the service there was that it was always present but never pushy. The front desk was great, the servers in the restaurants were great, housekeeping was great, and even the servers at the pool were great.
- The embarcado is a cool location. I dislike the Gaslamp so it was nice to be downtown and not be sucked fully into the tourist entrapments. I always knew this hotel was next to the convention center, but I never realized how pretty it was behind the convention center. (There are parks back there… who knew?)
- The Pool area is great. They just opened their “new backyard.” And while that name won’t work because it doesn’t feel at all like a backyard, they’ve clearly done a lot of work to make the pool area work. We liked the large, all-shallow-end heated pool and their attempts to make it kid-friendly with pool toys. Little things like having music and the new outdoor bar make it feel lively.
- The Buffet. This didn’t stick out to me as especially fantastic, but Megan and Paul were living the high life eating at the breakfast buffet. Since we were there on Easter morning it was way better than I expected it to be. (As Hilton Honors members we also got vouchers for free breakfast at Starbucks, mom and dad would have preferred to do that over the buffet.) Like all hotel buffet’s, watch out because this can be expensive. Again, watch for deal when booking.
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