Tuesday, October 13, 2009

a kid in a castle

Sure, there's Disneyworld. But why take your kids to Cinderella's castle when they can sleep in a real one? Ireland's Dromoland Castle and Castlemartyr Resort not only offer a true castle experience but design their itineraries with kids in mind.

While parents enjoy an authentic Irish breakfast or a pint of Guinness at the bar (it's OK to indulge, you're on vacation!), kids can try archery, falconry, horseback riding, fishing, tennis, clay shooting, nature walks, duck feeding and the castles themselves. Where else can they play hide and seek in the forests and gardens or spend hours in the Kids' Zone, or play fetch with resident Irish Setters Earl and Countess?

Once they've worked up an appetite, they can enjoy a children's menu or snacks from the in-room dining menu while watching a movie with the family. Special treats also await at check-in and turn-down: lollipops, cookies and warm milk, and teddy bears (a special teddy bear picnic can be arranged).

Nearby you'll find a wildlife park, beaches, Europe’s largest indoor activity center for kids and a go-cart circuit. Yet other family-friendly outings are easily arranged by the resorts’ knowledgeable and enthusiastic concierges; ie: day sailing on the Celtic Sea and shopping in historic-yet-vibrant nearby towns. Go to
www.dromolandcollection.ie. or www.castlemartyrresort.ie to book your stay; your kids will be treated like royalty.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

traveling with tots

If you have to stay in Brooklyn, check into the New York Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge. (It's just over the bridge from Manhattan so it's a great spot to unpack in if you are planning a trip to the city too). In addition to getting all of the basic amenities you get at any Marriott hotel (think clean, comfortable rooms, dependable service, and attention to detail), you'll find it's a great place to escape to with kids. We took Harrison, age 3, and Ava, 20 months, with us for the weekend. The hotel happily provided extra beds and linens, including fluffy pillows and down comforters. You'll love the cityscape and bridge views looming before you; your kids will love the HDTV and selection of Pay-Per-View movies. You can request an in-room fridge to store their favorite foods and snacks. The best thing about the hotel for kids is the lap pool, designed for adults but very amenable to kids who want to splash around a bit. The lifeguard closed a lane for us and some other mini swimmers each time we went down for a dip! Walk a few blocks to visit the New York Transit Museum where kids will love trekking through old train cars and going through the different turnstiles that have been in operation over the years. If you really need a break, leave the kids at home and take advantage of the hotel's romance package ($379 through December 31st; champagne and chocolate covered strawberries included). Go to www.marriott.com and search for the Brooklyn Bridge destination to make your reservations.

guy time

I bought my husband a box of goodies from the Art of Shaving. I have to give him credit here--he actually tried them! But he ended up digging out his favorite Edge shave gel afterward. Many guys, my husband included, are pretty low maintenance. Give 'em a bar of soap and a razor and they're happy. That's why products that offer necessary benefits and seem easy to use are the only ones they might give a second thought to trying. Jack Black skin care products are designed specifically for guys, fuss-free, lightweight on the skin, and dependable. Founded by Curran Dandurand and Emily Dalton who wanted to fulfill a man's skincare needs, they're high-performance products in easy to handle packages. One of the most popular products Industrial Strength Hand Healer ($15) with Vitamins A & E is rich but not greasy and helps soothe dry, chapped hands but also works well on elbows and feet. It absorbs easily and smells a bit woodsy which I think is always nice on a man. The Sun Guard Ultra-Light Spray Sunscreen SPF 25 is so lightweight you can't believe it will actually get the job done. While it also rubs right in, its scent reminds me of Lemon Pledge--which I like but my husband doesn't exactly want to wear. He actually didn't mind the Beard Lube Conditioning Shave with Jojoba and Eucalyptus ($10.50/3 oz.; $16/6 oz.; $79/6-pack of 6 oz. tubes). It's a pre-shave oil, shave cream and facial skin treatment in one and comes in a unique see-through texture so you can see where you're shaving. After a week though, he went back to his usual Edge routine. You can take the guy out of the drugstore but you can't take the drugstore out of the guy. Go to www.getjackblack.com and treat your guy to a dose of these favorites.

germs be-gone!

My son Harrison learned to sneeze into his elbow from "Sid the Science Kid" so I was anxious to try Germy Wormy disposable germ-catching sleeves. When I first heard of Germy Wormy, I had my doubts that they'd be worth the investment, mainly because I wasn't sure if kids would remember to use them. The truth is, now is as good a time as ever to try such an eclectic product. Designed to put an end to the spreading of germs, colds and flus, these disposable sleeves can be slipped onto kids' arms over their clothes to catch germs when they sneeze. Just play the Germy Wormy Germ Smart for Kids DVD for your little ones ($15; it's educational and entertaining), then slide on a sleeve (25-pack, $9.99; 10-pack; $4.50; fits kids ages 1 to 11!) and wait for the big "achoo!" Inventor Margaret Back created the product when her daughter Morgan kept coming home from preschool with every kind of cold, flu and sinus infection under the sun. She claims the product has reduced the spread of illness around homes and school by 50%. Go to www.germywormy.com to place your order and stay out of bed this winter!