Monday, August 15, 2011

Our First Family Vacation!

Okay, dream come true, people. Get this: a couple of weeks ago, BlogHer approached our family with an all-expenses paid (flights, food, everything!) weekend vacation to review a Sheraton Hotel! I mean, are you kidding me?!! I truly thought I was dreaming. We have never been on a family vacation with just the 6 of us---not to mention that the kids have never flown in an airplane!

Within a few short weeks, we were packing our kids up and heading to the airport to fly to the sunny beach town of Fort Lauderdale, FL!

Now, mind you, when the quads fell asleep in the car during the 30 minute drive to the airport…I knew it was a potential recipe for disaster. We experienced meltdown after meltdown in the busy, crowded, and loud airport.
(this would be Ethan throwing a temper tantrum, Ben pouting, Sav…well…doing what she does best, and Drew upset that he can’t run around)
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FUN TIMES! Joe and I were immediately regretting this decision (and contemplating all the drinks we would have to buy our fellow passengers on the flight, due to our unruly children)
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…but the kids soon shaped up and all was well in the world. Especially when the pilots invited us in to the cockpit!  How cool is that?!!!
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“Passengers, please make sure your seatbelts are securely fastened---we will be experiencing some turbulence while a 3 year old takes over the controls…” (cringe)
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The kids were SO excited about their first plane ride and behaved perfectly on the plane! Here they are waiting with Daddy to pick up our baggage.
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After a quick 10 minute shuttle from the airport, we arrived at the Sheraton Fort Lauderdale Beach Hotel.sheraton pic

We walked into our room to find a sweet little card and goodies waiting for us…
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Here are some of my favorite things about the Sheraton Fort Lauderdale Beach Hotel:

1.  The History
The Sheraton Fort Lauderdale Beach Hotel was formerly known as the Yankee Clipper and was patterned after a ship (complete with faux smokestacks and portholes).
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The Clipper was THE PLACE TO BE during the 1950’s and 60’s. It was home to the New York Yankees…
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…and frequented by movie stars like Marilyn Monroe.
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I love that many of things that made this hotel legendary are still preserved to this day (the Wreck Bar, the Mermaid shows, etc).

2.  The Location
The hotel is basically surrounded by water on 3 sides!

You do not have to cross any major streets to get to the beach---which comes in handy when you are herding 4 three year olds and bags of toys, sunscreen, towels, etc.! No taxi’s, no shuttles, just walk out of the hotel and you are on the sand! AWESOME.
sheraton beach

3.  Dos Caminos
The restaurant inside the hotel is Dos Caminos and it is OH-SO-GOOD! Old style Mexico meets modern cuisine!
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Click HERE for a menu. They are known for their guacamole and margaritas!

Very cool atmosphere! I admit that I was a little confused when I first saw the restaurant, because it appears to be a tiny little bar that is not very kid-friendly…
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…and then you turn the corner and go down row after row of comfy, beautiful booths with soft, ambient lighting.
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We really LOVED this place! Here we are eating breakfast before we head to the beach.
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Hmmm, we might sit here for a while- seeing as how it is pouring down rain outside!
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The kids ordered pancakes---aren’t they cute?! (Ben and Drew)
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So excited! (Ethan and Savannah)
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Dudes, seriously? Look at this… can’t get much better!
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Oh wait! Yes it can!!!! Yummm. My mouth is watering just thinking about this food.
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If I lived in/near/around Fort Lauderdale, I would definitely make many trips to the Sheraton, just for the food at Dos Caminos!

4.  The Wreck Bar
This amazing Bar is legendary!…easily my favorite place inside the Sheraton.
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The Wreck Bar is made to look like a shipwrecked, sunken ship. (Here my husband is either constipated, or doing his best pirate impression…I’m crossing fingers that it’s the latter).
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Inside, the patrons are surrounded by beautiful aquariums.
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As you can imagine, the kids were mesmerized by the unique atmosphere and swimming fishies.
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You might recognize the Wreck Bar from the movie “Analyze This”! VERY cool!
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The area behind the bar, peeks into the swimming pool!
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and every Friday night, mermaids swim around the pool in front of the bar windows! We had just missed them….
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…so my husband decided to give us a show! Hahaha. Hi Joe!
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This is a neat little lounge area outside of the Wreck Bar.
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5.  The View
Holy COW, this beach is beautiful!!!! This is the view from our balcony.
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Gorgeous and right there on the beach!
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6.  The Beds
Can I just tell you that these beds are SOOOO comfy, you will not want to leave them?!!
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My little munchkins thought they were pretty awesome too! (Drew, Ben, Ethan, Savannah)
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“Who promises to go to bed for Mommy and sleep in reeeeally late (~7:30 am) in the morning?”
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Ahhhh… heaven.
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I had been recovering from the worst Sinus/Upper Respiratory infection of my life…and this was the first night that I had good sleep in weeks! I’m convinced it was the beds.
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7.  Link@Sheraton07 july 2011 077

The Link@Sheraton is a groovy little Internet cafĂ© with free high speed internet access on the hotel’s 4 wireless computers.
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The Link@Sheraton is complete with a Starbucks and delicious bakery goods and sandwiches. PERFECT for grabbing food and drinks when you are on the go!
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8.  Sheraton Fitness
The Sheraton Fitness room rocked my socks off! For all of you vacationers out there who like to incorporate exercise into your activities… first of all, what is wrong with you? Second of all, you will fall in LOVE with this place!
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Nice, clean wood floors… brand new equipment… built in TV screens… plenty of room… plenty of equipment… machines & free weights. This place is awesome. AWE-SOME.

8.  The Pool Closest to the Beach
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For those of you who like to visit the ocean, but do not “do” sand or salt water- this pool is for you! Great view, plenty of recliners, and lots of cute kids. (Ethan, Andrew, Benjamin, and Savannah)
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There is a pool bar right behind Joe with good food and great drinks!
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Ahhhh, this is the life! (Ben)
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My little Diva, curling up for a beach-side nap
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9.  The Fort Lauderdale Area
I had no idea that Fort Lauderdale is the “Venice” of the USA with all of its winding canals. It is also known for its beaches, arts, culture and events. We decided to take a stroll outside of our hotel and came upon this nifty little patio that opened up to a canal.
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Great people and boat watching as we enjoyed a tasty little afternoon treat.
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Savannah and Me- enjoying the tunes and refreshing sea air.
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Things to consider during your stay at the Sheraton Fort Lauderdale Beach Hotel:
Bring plenty of money. Dos Caminos is more of a high-end restaurant, but well worth it. The quality of food is amazing and you definitely get what you pay for. (MENU) We also ordered room service for the kids one night: One order of Chicken fingers and a side of fruit…with delivery fees and tip, the total was $25!

Here are some additional pictures of the hotel:
Our rooms
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The bathroom
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The Pool Area in the Main Building.
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The Layout:
The layout can be somewhat confusing, but you can easily find your way around the three separate buildings. There is also a skybridge between buildings 2 & 3.
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Our absolute FAVORITE part of our trip was the BEACH!!!! Our kids have never seen the ocean, nor sunk their toes into the beach sand.
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It was magical. (Ben, Me, Sav, Ethan, Joe, Andrew)
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We built sand castles and played games
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The kids LOVED jumping into the waves!
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Savannah- hard at work
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I caught a sweet moment between my identicals: Andrew and Ethan…
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…which quickly turned into…
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…a sand-throwing fight. Not so sweet anymore, eh?
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We stopped over at an awesome playground, right there on the beach outside of the Sheraton. PERFECT!
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After a quick nap, we were back out there building castles and freeways on the sand. The kids just couldn’t get enough! It was so much fun.
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Farewell, sunny beaches and beautiful ocean… how we will miss you! (Ethan, Joe, Andrew, Ben, Me, Sav)
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We headed to the airport Sunday morning…the kids made it through security and received security badges.
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I must admit that this trip to the airport was MUCH easier! The kids were great! (Drew and Mama- poor buddy got pink eye on the trip- thank God our pediatrician called in a Rx for us in Florida!)
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Yin and Yang- enjoying their suckers before take off.
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…and they’re OUT! Woo hoo!
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Sleeping children on a plane---what a beautiful sight!
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It definitely makes a Mama and Daddy feel good when other passengers exit the plane saying, “WOW! I didn’t even know there were children up here! What well behaved kids.”

Thank you SO much, BlogHer and Sheraton- for the opportunity of a lifetime. We had a WONDERFUL time during our stay at the Sheraton Fort Lauderdale Beach Hotel. I would definitely recommend Sheraton, as our hotel of choice, for any vacation destination.

Now, to win a:
7 night getaway of your own---
worth $2,550

Read about the awesome vacations of the other 5 BlogHer reviewers, select your favorite destination from the 6 different locations, and leave a comment on THE OFFICIAL ROUNDUP PAGE.
Whallah- easy as that. You will be entered to win, just by leaving a comment on the official roundup page!

Holy COW! This is the BEST giveaway EVER…who couldn’t use a 7 night getaway vacation?!!

Official Rules

suz signature

*I have been compensated to provide my personal opinion regarding our all-expenses paid weekend at a Sheraton hotel. However, the views and opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.


Lauren said...

That is SO AWESOME! What a blessing that was to have and all expense paid vacation for your family! How wonderful! Glad you guys had a great time. Great review too on the hotel!

Grandma Honey said...

Great review! Just one question...where did you and Joe sleep? Or did you put the quads into one bed later on?

Suzanne said...

Grandma Honey! thanks! we had adjoining rooms- so joe and i slept in one room, with our door open in between the 2 rooms.

Anonymous said...

love love love your blog! Also loved your swim suits. Where do you find those at.


Momma and Her Doodle said...

Oh this is good b/c we are flying in a few months. Did you need to bring any booster seats? Were they checked in w/ luggage?

Kaia said...

Awesome! I would have enjoyed reading even if it weren't a review! Good to hear it was as great of a time as it looks.. someday I'd like to get to an ocean that's actually warm enough to swim in!

Kimberley said...

looks like fun!! i noticed you said "3 yr olds" twice :)

Suzanne said...

jmorris! thanks!! swimsuits are from lime ricki- awesome suits. so cute!

stacy- nope, no boosters for our big kids.

kimberley- haha. good catch! however- the kids were 3 when we went on this trip. ;)

Anonymous said...

suz, you always make me 'whallah' as opposed to 'voila' a texas thing or just a suz thing?

Barbara Manatee said...

wow!! what an amazing opportunity!!

I have to say my favorite pic from it all was the one of you and Joe in the airport before you left! ha!

Looks like a very cool place - how neat to see people swimming in the pool from the bar down below? and Mermaids?? I bet Sav loved that!!

debi9kids said...

wow. what a fantastic trip! I had sort-of followed along on FB, but seeing all of these's just SO incredible. What a great trip!

LOVING the picture of you & Jo on the beach with all of the kids. Beautiful!

boysmum2 said...

wow if only I lived in the US, could do with a family vacation like that, even just for the weekend

Kat said...

WOW What a dream come true indeed! That's just amazing. i love all the photos you took!

Anonymous said...

Looks amazing. When I was about 3 or 4 years old my family flew to Ft Lauderdale and my siblings and I got to go into the cockpit too; it was ace!

wonderchris said...

What an amazing trip!!! Looks like you all had a blast.

Anonymous said...

Stumbled across your blog after one of my regular reads reviewed her trip to Hawaii through the same promotion. And .... spent 3 days reading your entire story & checking out pictures of your growing children.

They are awesome, as you clearly know & show. They're also very lucky, as you and Joe obviously put so much thought into the home you create for them and the experiences you provide for them.

As the mom of 13 and 15 yo girls, I just want to say --- every age gets even more fun, and the kids just get more fabulous and interesting! Enjoy!!

~ Another Suzanne.

Rosie said...

What a great review. The kids' smiles say it all :)
My family and I were just there the first week of August and completely agree with you. the location is to die for. the short little walk to Las Olas was great. I agree with you on the good night sleep - it had to be the bed :)

Judy said...

Great review makes me want to go to the beach and that hotel!!!!

Wendi said...

Looks like so much fun! Seeing you can do so well w/ 4 gives me more "uhpf" to do it with 3. Thanks for that!

Keith and Jessica said...

Looks like fun, girl! I'm just amazed that you often seem to have sleeping children in the car and on the plane. I never seem to be so lucky! :)

Mrs. Hilbig said...

Great review... Makes me want to hit the beach right now!!! Your babies are precious and you and Joe are a smokin hot couple ;)

Mrs. Hilbig said...

Great review... Makes me want to hit the beach right now!!! Your babies are precious and you and Joe are a smokin hot couple ;)

Anonymous said...

Way to go Mama Bear! Your kids are adorable!

Mysharona said...

That looked like fun.

Grammy X3 said...

what a fun time would love for my family to have a chance to do that

sweepmom said...

I left a message on the roundup page.

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