Le Meridien hotels put a spotlight on families

If I close my eyes and imagine how I would describe my dream hotel, the first words that come to mind are “sophisticated,” “upscale” and “luxurious.” Unfortunately, when you have kids, you tend to stay away from things that are sophisticated, upscale and luxurious as they are often also expensive, breakable, and as a result, off limits to littles.

If you go

Le Meridien Chicago – Oakbrook Center

2100 Spring Road, Oak Brook

www.lemeridienoakbrook.com

There seems to be the misconception that high-class hotels aren’t made for kids and vice-versa. But more and more often today, parents want to share their experiences with their families, and that includes travel and hotel stays.

Le Méridien hotels are taking note and the modern hotel brand, a part of the larger Starwood Hotels and Resorts leisure company, is looking beyond business professionals and jet-setters and placing a spotlight on kids with a soon-to-be debuted family program.

I had the chance to experience the program first hand at Le Méridien Chicago – Oak Brook Center. The first part of the program comes as a result of a partnership with Lego. All kids 12 and under who are guests at Le Méridien hotels will receive one of two Lego sets as a welcome amenity. Kids 5-12 will receive a 45-piece Lego Go-Kart Racer set, and kids 18 months-5 years receive a six-piece Duplo Snail set.

Upon check-in, my 4-year-old daughter Eden was thrilled to receive her Lego gift. After a shy smile and “thank you,” we were off to begin our mommy-daughter staycation adventure.

We took some time to build the Lego sets and then headed to the Le Méridien Spa Suites for facials.

I admit I was a little nervous as to just how relaxing my facial would be with a curious and excited preschooler. I soon discovered I had nothing to worry about as our massage therapist and esthetician Tipsukhon (“My friends call me ‘Tipsy,’ but I don’t drink,” she said with a laugh.) was wonderful with Eden.

She set out healthy snacks and made up a comfy spot for Eden to lounge until it was her turn for her avocado and banana face mask.

She was also kind and (very!) patient while being bombarded with 20 questions — “What’s that on Mommy’s face?” “Can I see that?” “What does this button do?” — and still managed to give me a gentle, yet thorough, treatment.

In addition to her mask, Tipsy gave Eden a scalp massage. As a new big sister, I could tell she was loving the one-on-one attention! A final soak in the gigantic tub filled with bubbles (regretfully) ended our spa time.

After a quick stop in our suite to change, Eden and I headed to El Tapeo, the hotel’s Spanish tapas restaurant, for dinner. The red orange glazed pollo dish with purple potatoes was colorful and delicious. I also highly recommend the gambas (sauteed garlic shrimp) and corn croquetas.

Once we were back up in our suite, we indulged in classic French desserts: chocolate éclairs (a Le Méridien special) with fresh berries and a selection of macaroons. And yes, they were as delicious as they sound. Even my picky eater gobbled hers right up.

The following day, we woke up refreshed after sleeping in what felt like the world’s comfiest bed. (Seriously, my 5-month-old at home is in the middle of a sleep regression and it was glorious to sleep through the night.) After some morning cartoons and more Lego play (of course), we headed to Longitude 87, the hotel’s second in-house restaurant, for a breakfast of bacon, eggs and yummy banana bread French toast.

As we checked out, I reveled in the fact that not once during our stay did I ever feel that having my daughter with me was a burden or a nuisance, to the hotel staff or other guests. Once we were back home, Eden couldn’t stop raving about her time at Le Méridien and her Lego set is the perfect keepsake to remember the experience.

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