Category Archives: hotels

Adventures in Traveling with kids

With eight hours worth of driving between NOLA and Houston, we decided to turn it into two shorter days of driving.  The kids and I had gone to Avery Island (Tabasco factory and Jungle Gardens) a few years back, and I had been wanting to take Gabe since then.  Ironically, even though we pass within ten minutes of it every 4 weeks, we just never made it there with him.  Since we decided to take two shorter days, we figured it’d be perfect timing to stop by when we had half a day without much else to do.

It rained off and on, which is par for the course in the south in summer.  But the Jungle gardens were swarming with mosquitos and we ended up with several very large welts.  So instead of a leisurely few hours spent walking under the huge oaks, we drove through at a fast pace, getting out only twice to look at things, before finally giving up and staying in the car for the rest of the tour.

By the time we left we were starving and decided to stop and get some diner food at Mel’s diner on HWY 90 between New iberia and Lafayette.  Actually really big portions for cheap prices.  My type of place when the kids are going through their growth spurts!

While we were inside, though, it rained.  Hard.  We brought the most expensive things into the cab of the truck, but most had to stay in the back.  We hoped all would be well.

Fast forward to bringing things into our hotel room. I opened the homeschooling suitcase to find half of the books with some sort of water damage.  SIGH.  They are now draped over the various tables in our hotel room, with me not holding my breath that they’ll dry by morning.

My daughter has very long, thick, curly hair.  We’ve been swimming all week.  And yes, it was tonight that the rat’s nest was brought to my attention.  The good thing was that I watched a semi-horror flick (October is the month for “scary” movies with us) that was entertaining while I brushed through her hair, taking breaks frequently because she got her mama’s tender head.

As a cap to a perfect day, I asked a certain son of mine to put the bag of left over Italian sausage and marinara in the mini fridge (I’d left the cooler in the truck because we are only here for one night and just brought in dinner).  He managed to not understand how gravity works and that the bag is called a ZIPLOC because you’re supposed to ZIP it shut.  Needless to say, I ended up scrubbing marinara off the room floor, under the mini fridge while my husband tilted it back.  SIGH. At least the carpet is already sort of brownish reddish.

On a good note, Cutthroat Kitchen is hysterical!  Love it.

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Crowne Plaza, NOLA airport

We stayed in this hotel for five days because my husband had a class he needed to take.  It’s northwest of NOLA, in Kenner.  First, the good.  Outdoor swimming pool and spa.  Pool is long enough to do laps in, if you don’t mind the weirdly cold water (in the south, by mid-June, outdoor pools are too hot to swim in…..this pool is freezing).  The dinner menu is actually pretty decent.  Hot wings, Blue crab bisque, and cakes were all good.  Hotel looks new, nicer beds, dressers, sinks, etc.  Decent price for being an airport hotel.

Now the bad, which is, I’m afraid, a much longer list.  Breakfast is awful and pretty overpriced.  A buffet, which is just what you’d expect from any cheap hotel free breakfast, is a whopping $15.  I passed and tried the eggs benedict.  The bread was dry and over cooked, the ham wasn’t very good quality, and the sauce didn’t taste like much of anything, let alone the lemony-buttery-yolky goodness that it should’ve been.

There are no fridges or microwaves in the rooms.  If I had planned on cooking this week, I wouldn’t have needed the microwave.  And we brought a cooler, so whatever.  But, on this trip I pre made freezer meals, thinking that I didn’t want to cook with homeschooling and a bit of sight seeing.  We could then just dish up the defrosted meal and microwave it quickly.  We thought about our options…going to another hotel, upgrading to a suite (they don’t have microwaves either), and in the end, I went to Walmart and bought a microwave.  We figure we will need one soon anyways because we are turning a second laundry room in our house into a kitchenette.  But I would’ve preferred to not have to buy one anyways.

TV channels are limited for what is standard in most hotels these days.  WIFI for general browsing is free, but if you are going to want to do anything with any sort of media, you’ll have to pay for it.  This is becoming common with larger, nicer hotels, especially in downtown areas.  But this really is a mid to lower priced hotel.

The setup of the hotel as a whole is awkward at best.  Elevators everywhere, but there’s only one that actually takes you to your room.  You have to figure out which one that is.  And then once you’re there, it’s a treasure hunt trying to find your way back out.  Most hotels’ hallways all look the same.  But most assume you haven’t been roaming the halls for years and try to make it as simple as possible.  Enter elevator.  Push button.  Arrive at floor.  Follow arrows either right or left to your room.  To get to our room, we have to walk almost all the way down the large hallway, then make a left where it would seem to be just rooms, take that elevator up to the third floor, and once you’re there, you see it only lets out on 8 rooms.  If we were in another room on the same floor, we’d use one of several other elevators to get there.  Finding the pool was awkward as well.  And since we originally found it from the lobby, trying to get back to our room was another adventure.  My daughter left the room when we first got here to use the downstairs bathroom, and we all got lost trying to find her.

Also, the towel rack, you know, for DRY towels, is located INSIDE the shower.  It seems like someone set out to try to make this hotel as unnecessarily complicated as possible.

Would I stay here again?  Doubtful.  Honestly, we were pretty close to bringing the rig for this trip, but in the end we figured the company is paying for the hotel and a food voucher (we didn’t know the voucher would barely cover a continental breakfast).  I’d rather stay in the rig and have Gabe drive the extra distance to go to his class, or stay in a hotel I liked better and just pay for it myself.

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Note: We were currently staying in this hotel when I wrote this blog post (mostly so I wouldn’t forget when we got home.)  The manager found me a few days later and asked about the breakfast situation.  I explained that we had tried many things and most were pretty good, but the Benedict left a lot to be desired.  He gave me two free breakfast buffets.  So we got to eat a buffet breakfast (much like any you’d see at a Comfort Inn) for slightly less money.

Since we ended up trying many more things, let me also add that their desserts are fantastic!  Their filet was seasoned very well and it was good.  But the sauce was almost tasteless.  It didn’t bother us too much because the steak itself was so good.  Maybe this hotel just has a problem with sauces.  Also, we tried the seared Ahi, and it was old fish.  Yuck.