There was a time when a roadside hotel with a simple swimming pool was a kid’s vacation nirvana. A successful cannonball and a stop at the International House of Pancakes made the trip complete. Those basic moments are fuzzy memories today, replaced with luxury hotels catering specifically to the shorties. The Omni Houston Galleria Hotel has skillfully created child-friendly accommodations that make the entire family feel at home.
Our family of four opened the doors to the Kid’s Fantasy Suite, connected to our room furnished with a king-sized bed and luxurious furnishings. The kids’ suite was decorated with colorful balloons, a customized chalk art greeting and a mini-bar basket filled with sugary treats. My seven and 10 year-old sons were fueled with adrenaline, and their excitement levels doubled when there was a knock at the door.
A white-gloved hotel wait staff member wheeled in pepperoni and cheese pizzas, chocolate milk and oversized sugar, oatmeal raisin and chocolate chip cookies. Just when the boys’ heads were ready to explode, a 55-inch flat-screen television screen, X-Box One and gaming chair was eyed on the entertainment center. In that moment, every modern boys’ Nirvana was found.
Along with the video games, the suite contained a few classic books, such as Where the Sidewalk Ends, Where the Wild Things Are and Alexander and the No Good, Very Bad Day, as well as art supplies, board games and an iHome system that plays music from an iPhone or iPod.
Just when we thought the experience couldn’t get any more opulent, the boys found the kid-sized fuzzy robes. Wrapped in the hedonistic spa wear, the boys brushed their teeth in the ocean-themed bathroom then stretched out on their respective double beds for a peaceful night’s sleep.
Thanks to the Omni Houston Galleria’s central location, our next day’s excursions were a breeze. We visited the baby giraffe and elephant, rehabilitated bald eagle, brown bears and the other usual suspects. The new gorilla habitat includes a 23-foot climbing tree and landscape that mimics the African forest. The seven western lowland gorillas that call the Houston Zoo home were chosen to move there as part of the Species Survival Plan.
Afterwards, we dined on a tasty, if not overpriced and trendy, lunch at Bernie’s Burger Bus. While the restaurant is branded ‘old-school,’ the establishment offers homemade, Angus beef, Paleo-friendly burgers as well as gluten-free options.
We returned to the Omni that evening to enjoy the two outdoor swimming pools. The boys splashed, challenged each other to races and cannonballed into the sparkling water. Who knows, maybe we managed to create a few of those treasured simple memories even while sitting in the lap of luxury.
Four Riverway, Houston, Texas 77056
By Autumn Rhea Carpenter
Photo Credit: Autumn Rhea Carpenter
Feature photo courtesy Omni Houston Galleria Hotel