Guest Author - Julia Reed Zaic
Bringing your family along on a business trip can ease that feeling of guilt and stress that comes from leaving them at home. Yet bringing your spouse and kids along, as wonderful as it can be, brings a new set of challenges that require more planning. I recently had the opportunity to combine business and family on a trip to New York City.
Two considerations for hotel accommodations are in order when traveling with family as opposed to a solo business trip: 1) You will need a hotel room with slightly more room, and 2) a location near touristy places that you might normally avoid. Also, affordable flights are a must. For New York, I settled on the Doubletree Hotel in Times Square via JetBlue. Here’s why.
All flights on JetBlue have Direct® satellite television offering kid-friendly channels for free. Bring your own headphones to avoid a $2 charge. Many airlines now offer some sort of in-flight entertainment, which I highly recommend. Televisions keep the kids occupied for large chunks of time which will allow you to work.
Choosing accommodations in New York City for a family of four is tricky especially if your kids have hit adolescence making one room a tight squeeze. The Doubletree chain of hotels is known for its “all-suites” status. In many locations (but not all) every room at a DoubleTree Hotel is a suite consisting of a bedroom, a living room, and sometimes a basic kitchenette. The Doubletree Times Square is one of the Doubletree properties that offers all-suites. Be aware there are currently two different Doubletree Hotels in Manhattan, the Doubletree Times Square and the Doubletree Metropolitan. The Doubletree Metropolitan does not consist of "all-suites". I understand there will be another Doubletree property opening in the Chelsea neighborhoond in Manhattan in 2009, but it is not clear yet as to whether this property will be an all-suite property.
At the time I booked our room at the DTS, the rate was just over $340 per night, a deal in New York especially for a suite. The ‘living room’ in our suite contained a double pull-out sofa bed. The best part about the suite? The boys had their space, and we had ours.
The suite also contained a desk that was multifunctional with space and outlets to accommodate two laptops, cell phone chargers, and digital cameras without requiring us to search for outlets behind the bed or nightstands. Also, the kitchenette was a luxury. Any leftover food or half finished sodas or water bottles could be stored for later without warmth or spoilage. Being able to store snacks and drinks in a hotel room with kids helps to avoid hefty room service charges or mini-bar costs for when you are just thirsty enough to pay $5 for drink or a munchie.
The location of the Doubletree Times Square cannot be beat when bringing the family. While I split my work day between an office in the city and in the room on my laptop, my husband was able to take the kids to do some of the more commercial things within walking distance of the hotel (Toys R Us, M&M World, and all the other features of Times Square). When I was free from work commitments, we had easy access via cab or subway to the Museum of Natural History, Empire State Building, Central Park, and the ferries to Ellis Island and Statute of Liberty.
The business center at the Doubletree Times Square was ample for the simple tasks that might arise during a business trip, with printing capabilities and a helpful staff. The concierge was also very helpful for family-related dinners within walking distance such as Johns Pizzeria at 260 W. 44th. Incidentally, John's Pizzeria was such a good suggestion, that I ended up taking co-workers whith whom I have a close working relationship to visit on an evening where none of us were in the mood to wear anything other than jeans and to have a great pizza pie.
By the way, for those of you who cannot skip a day at the gym, the fitness room at the Doubletree Times Square has treadmills, elliptical machines, free weights, water, fruit and towels. The quality and the size of the gym is surprising for a hotel located in the heart of the city where space is at a premium. It was by no means large, but for New York, it was prime real estate and only an elevator ride away. With the unlimited supply of warm straight-out-of-the-oven chocolate chip cookies offered at the front desk of any Doubletree hotel (a service our kids fell in love with more than having Toys ‘R’ Us as our nextdoor neighbor for four days), the convenient and sufficient gym was much appreciated.