The Homestead, Hot Springs, Virginia
We recently took our first family vacation solo with the twins. Everyone we talked to before our vacation said "you can't really vacation with kids" and yes, while you can't sit by the pool and order drinks on drinks while perfecting your summer glow and you might not find yourself booking all day, half day, or any spa treatments, you can vacation with your kids – and that is exactly what we did at The Homestead.
The Omni Homestead is a beautiful mountain resort in Hot Springs, Virginia. We chose The Homestead as our first family vaca for a few reasons – first, it is so family friendly. There were so many other families visiting The Homestead so it was not abnormal to have a baby or toddler acting unruly at dinner or anywhere in the hotel. Second, The Homestead is in the mountains, it's not "the beach", and it's "north of North Carolina". These were my OB's requirements when I told him I wanted to take a summer vacation. Initially I had grand plans for our family to travel to Amelia Island this summer, but, when I learned I was pregnant, my OB reminded me of the very real Zika risks to pregnant women and literally said to me "just stay north of North Carolina and can you do me a favor just don't go to the beach, why don't you go to the mountains?" Voila, Doc - The Homestead it is! Finally, The Homestead has an amazing pool facility. There are four total pools (that I know of) – (1) the kiddie pool, (2) the main swimming pool, (3) the lazy river, and (4) the spa pool. We stuck to the non-spa pools and reserved cabanas so we could maximize our pool visit (more on the cabanas later).
The hardest part about vacationing with your kids, and especially twins, is all the gear you need to pack. I was very intent on attempting to be as minimalist as possible so I did not feel like we were moving a household into The Homestead for vacation. Still, we traveled for four nights and I felt like I over-packed. My favorite pieces that I brought were two BabyBjorn Travel Lite Cribs (one for each twin), my UppaBaby Vista stroller, and the twins’ VTech barnyard walkers.
The travel cribs could not have worked out better, I seriously love them. They have a nice, soft, comfy mattress that slides into the bottom of the crib. Both twins snoozed so soundly on them. During the day we packed up one of these cribs and brought it to the pool with us so the twins had somewhere to chill, play, and nap (ha!) while we weren't in the pool. The crib is so easy to take down and put up and folds up into a nice compact carrying case. My UppaBaby Vista stroller was absolutely necessary because the twins aren’t walking yet and a side-by-side stroller would not have fit through any doors or down any walkways at the resort. One thing I wanted to avoid was packing toys but I knew we needed something to keep the twins occupied. My husband had the brilliant idea of just bringing their learning walkers and it was seriously genius. The twins walked up and down the long hallways with their walkers and loved interacting with all the people they passed – no toys needed!
Don't let anyone convince you that you cannot vacation with your kids, it’s all about what you make of it. Do you have to adjust your expectations and plan a little differently – of course, but you can definitely still have a good time. I knew the main activity that would interest my family was the pool so I rented a cabana for the days that we were at the pool. This ensured that we could spend maximum time at the pool because it offered more shade, a cooler environment for the twins, and additional space so I didn’t feel like we were imposing on other people. I justified this expense because I didn’t book any spa services (not to mention I am 30 weeks pregnant so no pricey drinks for me). During nap-time and after bed-time, my husband and I used our cell phones as monitors and left the room. The twins got maximum nap experience because we weren’t in the room making noise and Mike and I got some alone time. We really utilized this time to ourselves - we napped in hammocks, we ate quiet lunches together, did some shopping, went to fancy dinners, and just generally enjoyed each other’s company. It was a lovely break from the twins. To set up the “cell phone monitor” just call the cell phone that you will have on you while you’re out and leave the other cell phone in the room. Be sure to put the cell phone that you’re carrying around with you on mute so the napping child cannot hear all the noise where you are. This seriously worked out so perfectly and I cannot recommend it enough. Be sure to leave the privacy sign on your door so no one disturbs the baby while your gone!