If you’re on the fence about choosing the perfect hotel to mix your business with family travel to extend a long weekend, I recommend considering properties that focus on the needs of business travelers. They’re going to meet all your needs as both a business and family traveler because of the proximity to your business meetings and the amenities for your family. They typically offer a blended experience that live up to ‘Work Hard. Play Hard.’
My family recently spent two full weeks in Washington, DC, while I attended two conferences in two weeks. I could have stayed one week and gone nt home for the weekend, but the long weekend was a perfect time to explore the city. My husband wasn’t able to come along so this was definitely one of those trips when I needed help. I enlisted the daughter of a college classmate to help my boys see the city while I was occupied. You can check out the tips from Solo Traveling Mom, Sarah Pittard, on The Perfect Solo Day in Washington, DC with Kids.
TravelingMom Tip: Reach out to your friends when you are traveling and share your needs. Social media makes it much easier to connect across the miles for local advice and recommendations.
DECIDING WHERE TO STAY OVER
I used to struggle with where to stay when I mixed business/family travel. I didn’t always want to run into co-workers while I’m on my family time. I’ve changed my opinion on this and I typically stay at the conference or host hotel. This reduces my travel – key on those mornings when I have an early breakfast meeting.
I put this to the test on one of our last visits to Washington DC when we stayed at the conference hotel, the Washington Marriott Wardman Park. Wardman Park is a popular property for business travel because of its large conference center space. It’s one of my favorites for family travel as well because of the location and size of the property. Washington Marriott Wardman Park is located in the Woodley Park area, right on the edge of Adams Morgan and Embassy Row.
Business hotels aren’t just cookie cutter properties anymore but want to provide an impression from the very beginning. Wardman Park is a perfect example of this trend. It has a grand circular lobby with a seating area that’s inspired by the Washington Monument under a vaulted ceiling. The ceiling is embedded with twinkling lights and provides a calm place to sit when you’re getting in from a long trip. This arrangement is perfect for my family because when we checked-in I didn’t have any help yet (she was meeting us on the days I was working) and the boys were able to sit down while I was at the desk.
AMENITIES FOR THE BUSINESS AND FAMILY TRAVELER
When there’s no conference hotel selected, I’m always looking for hotels that are focused on extended business travelers. Such hotels usually offer oversized rooms and extra amenities like in-room refrigerators. In addition to the standard sleeping area, the Wardman Park offered a desk tucked into the corner and small sitting area for the junior suites but what I really loved was the empty space in the middle of the room. My boys are used to playing at home and they want space to stretch out on the floor. I didn’t have to worry about taking my whole mobile office outside when they started climbing the walls.
Most business hotels that host conferences offer lots of grand space for meetings, but it also means that they have beautiful outdoor spaces for hosting receptions. We typically walk around a property every day just to look at the gardens and decor. This didn’t include the time we spent on lawns just running around, walking through the meeting space (I only do this in areas that aren’t in use as a courtesy to others!) and people watching. One morning we observed the arrival of an Indian wedding party from our room. It was an international experience before lunch!
TravelingMom Tip: Look for a different area to explore and focus on every day. We take the same route but stop and spent more time in a different area on each walk. By spending a few minutes focusing on one space, you’ll be surprised how many of the details you can capture there.
GET TO KNOW THE NEIGHBORHOOD
If you’re going to spend more than a day or two at a hotel, it’s best to learn the neighborhood around your home away from home. We have had amazing experiential learning experiences by going to laundromats and hanging out on a Friday night. Knowing where a neighborhood drug store is can be invaluable if you have a sick child in the middle of the night. It’s just as important as knowing where to get dinner.
The neighborhood around the Wardman Park is home to tons of unique restaurants and just a quick train ride into Downtown DC. We took full advantage of the location and walked to different restaurants in the area for take-out. There are several chains (McDonald’s, Chipotle, Burger King) as well as local restaurants in the area (sushi, Indian Tandoori, Italian, Irish). There are choices for everyone from picky eaters to the more adventurous in your family. The benefit of take-out is that I was able to pick up a spicy curry for myself while the kids had a more traditional dinner from McDonald’s.
Next time you’re mixing business and family travel, don’t only look for known family travel options. By expanding your search to include business travel properties, you might just find the perfect property for your family to mix business and pleasure. Don’t just take my word for it. Credit Card Traveling Mom, Yvonne Jasinski, has this review of the Willard Intercontinental Washington DC , a property known for hosting business travelers.