“After becoming a parent, going to work feels like a holiday while an actual vacation feels like work.” I laughed at this statement a friend made when she became a mother. But that was before I became a mother myself. I did not realise the gravity of the statement until we planned our first long vacation with our 10-month-old daughter.
From planning the logistics to choosing the destination required meticulous planning. Learning from our friends’ experiences of travelling with their young ones, we were pragmatic enough to know that all plans of sightseeing and food exploration will have to be according to the baby’s schedule.
So, keeping sightseeing out of the plan, we chose Goa for the beach time we knew our water-crazy baby would love. However, deciding the destination is only one part of the deal. Things can go terribly wrong if the hotel or resort one chooses is not “baby-friendly”. We could have chosen any other resort by the beach but there were several reasons why we chose Alila Diwa. Here are a few considerations to keep in mind before you decide where to check-in with your baby:
If you are going to spend most of your time inside the resort, it is pertinent to choose one that has plenty of activities to engage your little ones. Two dedicated rooms at Alila Diwa Goa made our task of keeping our kid busy quite easy. There’s a kids room, replete with soft toys, books and games to please toddlers and older kids.
There is a trained staff to take care of the children (older than three years) if the parents want some time off. There’s also a room where older kids can play table tennis, carom or other indoor games. Though our baby was too young to enjoy it, we really loved the mini-cinema hall, where they play a kids’ movie at 3 p.m. and a movie for grown-ups at 9 p.m. every day.
The more exposure a baby gets to new things, the better it is for his/her development. I will never forget my baby’s reaction to the farm-to-table picnic experience at the resort.
The team had set a table in a mini-farm where you can walk around to take a look and even pick some fresh vegetables. The chef prepared some salads, healthy drinks, and sandwiches right there. Such an experience, although a little expensive, it is astounding for a child growing up in an urban landscape.
Usually, the kids’ pool is attached to the main pool, making it convenient for parents. However, we discovered the joys of a separate pool here. The kids’ pool is just two metres deep and has less amount of chlorine as compared to the bigger pool. It was the first pool experience for our 10-month-old so we loved the fact that we had it all to ourselves.
The importance of a friendly staff at a hotel is under-rated. While good service is what everyone expects, pleasant personalities just add to the experience. Being our baby’s first long trip, it was wonderful having a staff that showed it cared for our baby.
Whether it was bringing in the high chair at the garden in a jiffy or entertaining her while we finished our meal ~ it made a lot of difference to our experience. Our baby is still on milk and semi-solid diet so we couldn’t take advantage of the special kids’ menu at the restaurant. Also, you can opt for a junior Master Chef class for your little ones, where they can learn to cook specialty dishes in a safe environment.
Although it required tremendous planning and extravagance, our first vacation with our baby was a memorable one. And final word of advice for travelling with a baby: Do not make an itinerary or a list of places to visit. Just be in the moment!
(The writer is a freelance journalist)