Do kids belong in the pointy part of the plane? In high-end restaurants? In six-star hotels?
A series of private pools and lagoons at Versace
If you had asked me before I had kids, I probably would have said no, although I never had enough money to afford any of those things, so the point is probably moot anyway.
Now I have three ankle-biters of my own, I tend to err on the side of 'yes', but with reservations. No one likes to listen a toddler have a tantrum while you are trying to enjoy your crème brulee, but then again, no one likes to listen to a loud-mouthed businessman berate a waitress over the marble quality of his steak either.
Why should people miss out of business class flights, quality cuisine or exotic hotels simply because they have children? Families are big business, and by accommodating them while not compromising the experience for those without kids, hotels and restaurants should be able to keep everyone happy.
Private sun lounges (there is also an 18 only area)
My family and I recently travelled to Palazzo Versace on the Gold Coast and when I say family – I mean a four year old and a sixteen month old. Insanity? Perhaps.
Versace, Australia's only '6-star' hotel, is pretty swanky. I have a suitcase full of signature Versace 'Made in Italy' soaps and shower goodies to prove it.
A week prior to arriving I called the hotel with the express request that they remove all the 'breakable bling' from our room, just in case my little darlings accidentally broke a vase so expensive we'd need a second mortgage on the house. The woman I spoke with was down-to-earth and gently amused by the call - I was surprised. I had expected a rather different reaction (such as 'there is a lovely 3-star, child-friendly resort down the road, have you considered staying there?).
Massive king sized beds
On the one hand, the hotel was child friendly: our apartment was big enough to swing a golf club as well as the proverbial cat, the balcony was large and safe, the spa bath would have fit the whole kindy class, there was a DVD player (they can also provide kids DVDs), and the housekeeping staff came twice a day to empty the bins of poopy nappies. There was an awesome 'beach' and shallow pool for the kids the play in and the breakfast buffet had enough choices of food to satisfy even the fussiest of children.
On the other hand, little wet feet and marble floors are not the cleverest of combinations, steps and prams are not conducive to glamorous swanning about. And where the mainstay of the foyer décor are dozens of signature (i.e.very expensive) Versace cushions, it really should be expected that some might end up on the floor (what's a little pillow fight between friends?)
I do have a gripe with the $40 charge on the account for the hire of a portacot. When the cost of the cost of the rooms are amongst the priciest on the Coast, surely charging an extra ten bucks a night for a portacot is just petty. I can understand a one-off charge for linen and lugging it up to the room and assembling it, but why do they need to charge on an on-going basis? Are they trying to tell us something? I did question the young fellow behind the counter about this when we were checking out.
Behind me, my youngest was removing Versace cushions and using them as pillows to lay down on the foyer floor. The eldest tried a quick attempt at cushion ice-skating before she was subdued and hauled outside by Grandma, but all the while the concierge maintained a poker face.
'It's a standard charge for extras such as portacots and foldaway beds,' he told me. He remained unapologetic, and the $40 charge stayed.
Their attitude stands in stark contrast to Qantas, who went out of their way to ensure my 16-month old had her own seat next to me for the flights to Brisbane and back (which they did not charge me for), not to mention the special toddler meals and activity packs the children received.
For what is the true meaning of being child-friendly in the hospitality industry? For me, it is the attitude and not the inclusions. It is how you react to the children (preferably with patience rather than fear) and their mothers.