The one thing needed for an amazing family vacation

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Holiday Inn. The opinions and text are all mine.

OK, so there are a probably a hundred things that contribute to an awesome family vacation, but hear me out on this. A few days ago, my family went on a trip to Mazatlan courtesy of the good folks at Holiday Inn hotels and we had the time of our lives.

First off, I have to talk about our room. I travel a lot and I’ve stayed at a lot of hotels, but I can confidently state that I haven’t stayed in one as nice as the Holiday Inn resort in Mazatlan.

Our room had a separate space for the kids with bunk beds, a TV, and a door! A DOOR! Meaning they can sleep and/or entertain themselves without me having to hear them or see them. I mean, we all need a little break from our children at times, right? The folks at the Holiday Inn brand absolutely understand that.

But of course, that’s not all. The view of the beach from our balcony was spectacular during the day…

…and even more spectacular at night — which gets a big thumbs up from me.

Then there’s the pool. Oh man…that pool was amazing. We spent a lot of time enjoying the crystal blue water.

And this photo pretty much sums up how relaxed we were.

As phenomenal as those things were (and they were pretty phenomenal), the best part of our vacation centered around the amazing customer service we received while we were at the resort.

My youngest daughter’s birthday was on July 9th and all we really expected to do was enjoy some family time at the beach and pool. And we did just that.

But that’s when the resort’s team members decided to throw a surprise party for her and we were all pretty floored by it (especially her).

Beyond the birthday surprise, Juan (the General Manager) and his team always ensured that every need of ours was met. They knew when we needed something before we asked, they were super-friendly, and they totally understood what it’s like to travel with kiddos.

When it really comes down to it, now that I’m a dad, I find that I gravitate towards anything that will make my life easier. And do you know what makes my life easier? Good customer service. Having fancy rooms, beautiful beach views, and amazing Mexican food are all outstanding, but the thing that I think about first and foremost was how well we were taken care of.

I believe it was Maya Angelou who said, “At the end of the day, people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.” Quoted for truth.

I think the best proof of this is a photo of my daughters with Juan right before we left to go home. They aren’t the kind of kids who will smile around strangers or allow themselves to be picked up by them. They truly felt a connection with Juan due to the great service he provided for them and he felt like an extension of our family.

Even on the flight home, my oldest asked when we would see “Senior Juan” again. Hopefully that will happen very soon.

Needless to say, this was a trip that my family will remember for a lifetime and it all comes down to the service we received from the Holiday Inn resort’s staff. Because all of the perks in the world don’t mean much unless you’re treated well.

 

A Staycation Can Be the Best Vacation

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Holiday Inn. The opinions and text are all mine.

I live in SoCal so I’m one of the lucky ones who’s able to take a short drive to access Disneyland. As most people know who visit the park, there is a LOT to see and do, and oftentimes it can be overwhelming for kiddos and parents. If the kids need an afternoon nap, what are you going to do? Carry them around? Sit on the sidelines while they sleep in a stroller? It makes what should be a fun visit completely stressful.

But when the good folks at Holiday Inn Resorts reached out to offer our family to stay at their Anaheim resort, I took them up on it in a heartbeat, and I’m so glad that I did.

There are a few things that made it great. First off, it’s close to Disneyland and when my daughters inevitably became exhuasted in the middle of the day, we were able to easily head back to our room for a quick nap, and our room was perfect for that. The kids had a separate section with bunk beds separated by door, so I could get some work done while they rested.

Additionally, if you know anything about Disneyland, you probably know that it’s not cheap to do anything there. Especially eating. When I normally go there, I end up spending an arm and a leg on food, but not this time. The Holiday Inn resort in Anaheim has a restaurant called Burger Theory that had some of the best burgers I’ve eaten in a long time.

And the best part? Kids eat for FREE. And since I’m raising two little girls who eat like grown men, this couldn’t be a better perk. I saved a ton of money just on food alone.

Another cool thing about this particular resort is they had an event with Scholastic where kids could participate in arts and crafts with some of their favorite characters.

Whether it was reading with Geronimo the mouse…

…or having a coloring contest with Clifford the big red dog.

The kids had an amazing time.

But as wonderful as the Holiday Inn resort in Anaheim is, the best part is the customer service we received. The folks there truly understand what it’s like for families travelling with young kids and they absolutely took care of us. For example, we spent a good amount of time at Disneyland, but on our last day, my daughters really wanted to swim in the pool. I was worried they wouldn’t get the chance because our check-out time was approaching. When I spoke to the good folks at the front desk, they happily extended our checkout time to 2:00pm which allowed my girls to enjoy some pool time.

Stuff like that goes a LONG way with me and certainly does not go unnoticed.

In closing, it’s crazy to say this — but we actually had more fun at our resort than we did at Disneyland. True story. Between the food, the Scholastic event, the pool time, the comfort of our room, and the amazing customer service we received — what was there not to like?

If you happen to take the family to Disneyland, I highly recommend the Holiday Inn resort in Anaheim. They truly get what it’s like for parents on vacation, and their customer service is second to none. We’ll definitely be back the next time we visit the Magic Kingdom.

My Little Pony, Transformers, and Fun? Oh My!

I’ve partnered with the good folks at Carnival Cruise Line for over two years now, and I’ve seen firsthand how great they are at entertaining families. Whether it’s the Seuss at Sea breakfast, Lip Sync Battle competitions, or bringing Hasbro games to life — there is no shortage of fun to be had onboard any Carnival ship.

But what my family experienced this weekend could top it all.

My daughters were able to meet live action My Little Pony and Transformers characters during a sneak peek of their new Carnival Playtime programming on the beautiful Carnival Imagination, sailing from Long Beach, CA. Let’s just be real — you’ll be hard-pressed to find brands more sought after than those two, and my daughters couldn’t get enough of them.

First, they met Pinkie Pie and Twilight Sparkle from the My Little Pony family and my daughters were over the moon. And as you can tell, I was pretty star struck as well.

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My Little Pony friends were big, colorful, soft, and completely adorable. The girls really wanted to take both of them home with us, but that would’ve disappointed a ton of kids who came onboard to see them, and we couldn’t have that.

But wait, there’s more.

The girls had a chance to win prizes by playing fun parlor games.

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And they also had the opportunity to get “Ponified” with cute headbands and temporary tattoos.

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I know what you may be thinking — “What if my kid isn’t a fan of My Little Pony?” Well instead of asking you how in the world that could be possible, I’ll just say that Transformers were in the house too.

My oldest is a huge fan of Transformers and got to meet Bumblebee and Optimus Prime. As a guy who grew up watching the cartoons, I felt an enormous sense of pride knowing that my kiddo thought those larger than life robots are just as cool as I think they are.

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All in all, Carnival hit a home run with Carnival Playtime. Kids of all ages (even big kids, like me) will be extremely giddy as they hang out with some of the most popular characters in America. I cannot stress enough how much fun my girls had, and I left with a huge smile on my face knowing that thousands of girls and boys will get to experience the same level of excitement on an upcoming Carnival cruise.

As I’ve said many times before, no cruise line does it better than Carnival when it comes to the variety of entertainment options for kids, adults, and families. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to proudly share my selfie with Pinkie Pie, because as you all know, Pinkie Pie is life.

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MY LITTLE PONY, TRANSFORMERS and all related characters are trademarks of Hasbro and are used with permission. © 2017 Hasbro. All Rights Reserved. Licensed by Hasbro.

This post was created for Away We Go with Carnival, the destination for getting in the getaway state of mind. Head on over.

I Didn’t Want To Raise Girls…Until I Did

Recently one of my readers asked me if I wish I had boys instead of girls. Of course the answer is an emphatic, “NO” – but did I always feel that way? I’d be lying if I said yes.

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The Day I Realized I Didn’t Want To Be A Dad

It was a typical evening in my household. I was reading one of my books to my two young daughters, which I wrote about the joys of fatherhood. But there was no joy or excitement on this night. I was a page-turning zombie, waiting for the book to end.

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A Problem For Our Daughters

On a recent drive to school, my 6-year-old daughter told me that she wants to be a scientist when she’s older. Of course I thought that was great, but then I became a little sad.

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Who is Doyin, Anyway?

A faithful SDW (Subscriber Doin’ Work) named Alexandra sent me an email a while ago that caught my attention. She said many things, but one sentence read, “I know a lot about your passion for being a dad, but I really want to know more about you (hopes, fears, insecurities, quirky stuff). Care to share some nuggets with me?” No, it didn’t come off as creepy or weird, and she’s right – I need to do a better job of opening up completely. Hopefully by the time we’re done here you’ll learn more about me than you ever thought (or hoped) you would.

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Wanna Feel Good About the World? Go on a Cruise

One thing I try to do as a dad is introduce my kids to new stuff all of the time. New food, new places, new experiences, and new people. To me, I feel that’s a great way to learn more about what this great world has to offer.

But here’s a startling statistic. Did you know that close to 40% of Americans have never moved away from their hometowns? It’s hard for people to identify with different cultures, races, or ethnicities if you see the same people everyday, right?

The best way to become more accepting and tolerant of people that are different from us are to enter their environments and see how they live. In doing so, we’ll realize that we are all way more similar than we are different.

That’s why I was so happy when Carnival recently offered to take my family on an 8-day Caribbean cruise in January. Our travels took us to the Dominican Republic, Aruba, Grand Turk, and Bonaire — and we met a lot of interesting people, but it’s not just about those locations. My family had the opportunity to meet a lot of amazing people from all walks of life on the beautiful and brand new Carnival Vista as well.

First off, Carnival has a lot of diverse restaurants from steakhouses, Asian cuisine, Italian at Cucina del Capitano (my personal favorite), and much more. My kids were able to experience fine dining from different cultures without leaving the ship.

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And as far as the people are concerned, my daughters enjoyed dancing, swimming, eating, and playing with people from various backgrounds while on the ship. Did my girls care that those people didn’t look like them? Of course not. They just wanted to have a good time and that’s exactly what they did. It was beautiful to witness.

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I certainly don’t have the answers to all of the world’s problems, but I feel that one potential fix is to ensure our kids hang out with as many people as possible who may not look like them, try new foods, and go to new places. Carnival checked all of the boxes for us on our recent cruise and we are so thankful for that.

This post was created for Away We Go with Carnival, the destination for getting in the getaway state of mind. Head on over.

Cruisin’ With The Kiddos

In case you missed it, I recently took my family, my twin brother’s family, and my parents on an 8-day Caribbean cruise courtesy of Carnival. It was the experience of a lifetime, but I have to admit that I was a little worried at first. During the plane ride to Miami, a couple nagging thoughts kept…well, nagging me: “8 days is a long time. Will they have a good time? Will they be bored?”

Remember, my daughters are six and three years old. As is the case with most kids, they don’t filter their feelings. If they want to go home, they’ll say so. If they don’t like something, they’ll let anyone in earshot know without a hint of tactfulness. It just comes with the territory.

Thankfully it didn’t take long to receive my answer to those questions after we set sail on the beautiful and brand new Carnival Vista.

#1  Eating

Although we spent a lot of time together as a ten-person unit, there were times when I was alone with one or both of the girls; and one of the first Daddy-Daughter bonding moments occurred when we first arrived on the ship to get something to eat. I must say that the food that Carnival provides is absolutely amazing. The options are endless and you can keep getting more, and more, and more — including 24-hour ice cream and pizza. You have a picky eater at home? There is something for them on the ship, trust me. And let’s be real – there are few better ways to bond with the kids than by eating some tasty food.

And that’s especially the case when it comes to dessert at Cherry On Top.

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#2 – Active Stuff

The Carnival Vista is a brand new ship and is packed with activities geared towards kids, including multiple pools (which my daughters never wanted to get out of).

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And the waterslides were pretty epic. There were two really big ones and a couple of smaller ones that were perfect for the kiddos.

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The Sports Square was great too. My oldest daughter loves basketball and she was able to get some shots up with the most amazing scenery in the background. But if basketball isn’t your thing, they have ping-pong, bowling, mini golf, and a variety of other activities to keep the kiddos happy.

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#3 – Entertainment

Are you a fan of Lip Sync Battle? Well, the Carnival Vista actually has it on the ship and it was practically identical to the version on television. My daughters had a blast dancing in the aisles as fellow cruisers strutted their stuff.

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And the live musicians were great, as well. No matter what music you enjoy, there was something for everyone to get down to.

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One of my favorite parts of fatherhood is creating memories with my children. Am I the perfect dad? No, but who is? One thing I can say with confidence is when my time on this earth has passed, my girls will know that Daddy gave it his all to create the best and happiest lives possible for them. The quality time we spent together in paradise helped strengthen that bond more than ever.

This post was created for Away We Go with Carnival, the destination for getting in the getaway state of mind. Head on over.

Sudio Regent Headphones

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