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Limitations and Inconveniences

The limitations and constrictions of the B & B can be incompatible with successful family traveling. There are certainly exceptions, but we think that resorts are an overall better bet when traveling with kiddos. Too many things can potentially go wrong with the bed and breakfast situation. As for food, do not expect a child’s menu at the B & B, as you would find at many resorts. While the food selection at the B & B is limited for adults, it is even more so for children. I have thoroughly enjoyed the convenience of room service at almost all of the hotels and resorts my husband and I have visited with our toddler. If we were tired and didn’t feel like re-packing the diaper bag, getting our daughter into the car seat, and looking for a local place to eat dinner while hoping she will not get fussy, we could simply make a phone call, and have dinner brought to our room, along with some hot water to warm a bottle, some Jell-O, fruit, or whatever our toddler wants. This luxury is not available at the B & B where it is necessary to eat all of your meals, other than breakfast, out—which can become wearing with a young child.

What happens when you are traveling with baby and you realize at 9:00 p.m. when you arrive at the B & B that you forgot the extra diapers? Your baby’s diaper is wet and needs to be changed. At the resorts listed here, I have pointed out many that carry just such baby paraphernalia in the gift shops. The hotels that did not carry such items often employed bellmen on call that could be sent to run such an errand for you. So if you were staying at one of my featured destinations, you would simply make a call to the front desk or saunter down to the lobby and purchase some diapers and perhaps a little souvenir toy for baby as well. But unfortunately at the B & B, you would need to get back into your car and hope to find a grocery or convenience store nearby. This situation alone could wreck an evening.

There is no need to compromise the quality of your family or romantic getaway when there are so many incredible alternatives to B & Bs. For instance, the next time you are considering vacationing in the wine country of Napa Valley with your family, consider booking a room at the illustrious Meadowood Napa Valley where the present owners have come quite close to realizing their vision of creating “one of the finest country resorts in the world.” Situated in the heart of Napa Valley, one mile east of downtown St. Helena, the resort maintains an utterly beautiful, secluded ambiance that feels like a secret hideaway for the elite and famous. Its opulence, however, does not diminish the staff’s gracious attitude.

In contrast to what Mr. Gold calls “the forced intimacy” of the B & B, at Meadowood, you would experience a truly relaxing time with your family. To begin with, once on the property, incomers are screened by a polite man at the front entrance and then admitted along a mile-long, forested trail that leads to the lavish estate. The fact that random people are not able to wander about the property creates a feeling of security and privacy for a traveling family

At once, I found the environment calming with its lush, green acreage and natural hiking trails. The resort’s two restaurants both afford sweeping views of the gardens, fairways and surrounding wooded hillsides. The more formal dining room, called simply The Restaurant, is considered one of the finest in the wine country, serving sumptuous delights such as country style rack of lamb, chilled Dungeness crab, and three different types of caviar. They also offer a prix fixe vintner tasting menu pared with Napa Valley wines for $80.00. I had the Day scallops and my husband had the duckling, which were both delicious. As posh as it is, The Restaurant’s staff remained understanding and accommodating with our pushing our toddler in with her stroller, requesting water for her bottle, and spreading out her food and toys on the outdoor table of their lovely deck.

The patient attitude at The Restaurant toward my daughter, eight months-old at the time, seems to be a part of the resort’s overall endeavor to be known not only as a luxury resort but also as a family-oriented vacation destination. According to Megan Clouse, Communications and Cultural Affairs Coordinator, Meadowood is “increasing its amenities for children so they may be pampered along with their parents.”

When traveling with a youngster, it is certainly desirable to be at a destination that has this goal in mind. Upon arrival at Meadowood, children are given a “welcoming kit,” to start their trip on a positive note with age-appropriate toys such as Lego’s, activity books, and plush toys. Meadowood has not only an Olympic-size pool for adults, but also a special children’s pool along with swim lessons for the youngsters and water toys with which they can splash. Very young children have a toddler, “kiddie” pool. To my delight, the young guests even have their own children’s café, which features a healthy kid-focused menu such as fruit smoothies, tuna sandwiches, and chicken strips. A child’s playground is situated nearby their pool and café. The Grill, the resort’s more casual restaurant, features a children’s menu for breakfast with items such as pancakes and oatmeal.

At the end of the day, children can stop at the Reception Lodge to play games such as Chutes and Ladders, Candy Land, or Trivial Pursuit, and then head back to their room where, like their parents, they can snuggle into their own plush, white terry bathrobes, fitted to their size, while enjoying a night snack of animal crackers and milk provided by the resort. Their next day’s activities may be planned by looking through Meadowood’s nightly “turndown” journal, The Journal, which offers suggested activities “for your family” as well as a specific children’s activity list with recommendations such as hiking, horseback riding, and other ventures that can be arranged on the estate. For instance, gourmet country picnic baskets are available, affording a family the opportunity to hike the grounds and picnic among the estate’s wooded setting. Children can romp around the landscape amidst the gardens of rhododendrons and azaleas and groves of firs and redwoods. On our first day there, my husband shared an afternoon with our toddler, hiking the Meadowood Trail, which rises 600 feet, while she absorbed the scenery from her baby backpack. She laughed and yelled, “Ahhhh,” as they spotted the deer, raccoon, squirrel, and jackrabbit common to the trail.

Meanwhile, I was having a European conditioning facial and a Swedish massage. The latter contributed to easing the tension in my back from eight months of carrying a toddler with me everywhere. After my treatments, I walked back to my room through the open meadows and quiet woodlands, recollecting my thoughts. I felt thoroughly revitalized, and upon their return, I found that my husband and daughter did too.

Some other conveniences within our room at Meadowood, which are rarely found at a B & B, included air-conditioning and heating (to adjust the environment to your baby’s needs), a large refrigerator for storing formula and other baby foods, as well as dry-cleaning and laundry availability. Our room also came with a very wide and private deck, large enough to roll a stroller on, or sit on the patio while gazing at the oaks, pines, and wooded hillsides.

In contrast, most B & Bs are simply not designed with the needs of babies and young children in mind. Why inconvenience yourself when places such as Meadowood and the other destinations listed on adjust their own agendas to meet those of your family’s? There are surely exceptions to every rule, but for the most part, we advise you to stay clear of bed and breakfasts and hit the full-service resorts.