We did it! After 51 weeks of making weekly deposits into our savings accounts, my children, DH & I were ready to head to Florida. I must do a little thank you here to Gail vaz Oxlade for her advice on saving and encouraging our family to set a goal and accomplish this goal as team.
Full disclosure…I paid for the trip myself, with the exception of using our RBC Avion Visa points to pay for the flights and taxes. This is not a sponsored review nor will you find staged or stock photos, it is all what really happened.
I am biased in saying that flying out of Ottawa is a dream compared to other larger city centres (cough, cough, Toronto). Seriously, the entire environment of YOW is relaxed, which in turn makes the travellers a little less stressed as well.
We flew with West Jet, by choice. They offered direct flights from Ottawa and the kids and I loved the viral #WestJetChristmas video that was circulating around the interwebs. I still cry even after the 15th viewing of that commercial. Secretly, I was also hoping the kids and I could have experienced the Magic Disney Plane for our flight to Orlando. AndiePandie, loved the video as well and might have cried tears of joy as she watch the West Jet elves make their passengers so very happy. She decided to make candy cane reindeers for all the West Jet folks she saw on the way to our vacation destination.
|Kid-made, with love, candy cane reindeers for the West Jet family.|
The West Jet team, was lovely in accepting AndiePandie’s raggedy, slightly broken, sparkly antlered reindeer. Each person thanked AndiePandie for her thoughtfulness and one extra special West Jetter had the captain thank her over the PA system, just as the plane landed in Orlando. The flight attendant then took her up to the cockpit to sit in the captain’s seat. Yes, it was very cool and most importantly AndiePandie just beamed with pride.
|Very cool experience sitting in the Wet Jet cockpit with the crew.|
For the ugly part of this flight….Beckett vomited 5 times between take off and landing. Each time, I would hold his head as he gagged into cacow’s (a Guthrie word for blankie) and puked whatever grossness was upsetting his belly. He then whimpered and fell back asleep after each vomit session during the (thank God) a direct flight. Upon landing he his bowels let loose and we had sticky liquid flying out of both ends. I tried my best to console my son, whilst not upsetting the other passengers or his sisters, who were catching up on the latest movies & having snacks during our flight. Thankfully our flight arrived 15 early ( I know EARLY!) and I was able to clean Beckett up before leaving for the first part of our adventure.
|The calm before the vomiting storm arrived|
We hopped into our cab and within 20 minutes were at the Royal Palms Resort. This is a Loews resort located at Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida. We couldn’t pay the taxi driver with our credit card so we had to use cash, just a small issue but it needed to be mentioned. My suggestion, carry at least 200 in American cash for little hiccups like this.
|The entrance to Loews Royal Pacific Resort|
As my kids exited the taxi they were greeted with colourful lei’s and happy bell hops, who helped us with our bags as we checked in. The front desk was quiet and, in no time, we were in our room changing in our swim suits for a quick dip before bed. My kids love to swim & they were beyond excited to swim outside in December. We arrived at the pool with huge smiles & nothing but swim suits on. We were unfortunately told the pool was closed because of the cold weather. My jaw dropped and my smile faded….I’m sorry, can you repeat that…I said. I quickly explained, to my now confused kids, that is was getting late anyway and we needed to get to bed for our big day at Universal….but I was too late the tears started. AndiePandie bikini clad, hand on hip and eyes as huge as saucers said…”What are you talking about? It’s not snowing is it?”. We did not swim, we headed back to our room and prepped for the next day’s adventure.
|Christmas Tree and Gingerbread Village & Train In the lobby of the resort|
I spoke to the manager of the Loews Royal Pacific about this small (yet important to my kids issue) and he was fantastic. He listened to what I had to say and thanked me for my time. The front desk staff were also very attentive & courteous . They called my children and I by name, asked how our day at the park was and if we needed anything in our room. The concierge desk, also made an extra effort to make sure there was milk, a fridge and microwave for our use. Talk about going above and beyond the call of duty.
There as several restaurants on site, but we only ate at Islands Dining Room. The breakfast buffet was worth the price, there were many healthy options, excellent coffee and attentive staff. There were two things that stood out for our family about Islands. First, KT (DD 10) was enthralled by the make your own pancake station, she loved the mechanics of the machine and all the toppings, including fresh strawberries. KT also mentioned how sweet and tasty the strawberries were, her comment was they tasted real..not like the frozen ones we eat at home. She might have cleaned out a bowl or two during our stay. The second characteristic (which Beckett loved the most) of this restaurant I must tell you about is the toy/play/TV room/kids dinning room. This is a huge room complete with TV, toys, couches and pint sized furniture for children to enjoy both playtime and a meal. After a long flight, having the kids run off to play ( in an area I could see from my table) while I partook in third cup of coffee was a huge perk. This hotel and restaurant were made for family travel. We all gave it two thumbs up, that’s 10 Guthrie thumbs altogether. The excellent customer service and attention to details we experienced, will make us a repeat customer at the Loews Royal Pacific. The kids have already decided we are going back in 2015 for a week instead of just 4 days.
Part 2 – Universal Studios!