In lieu of an elaborate first birthday party (and the over-the-top list of DIY decorations planned), I booked a last-minute vacation deal and packed up my family. It’s one of the best decisions I’ve made — my only regret is that I didn’t think of it earlier.
Only a few weeks ago. I was obsessing over piñata patterns and whether the color coral was too passé to use as a photo booth backdrop for my daughter’s first birthday party. Of course, my Pinterest addiction wasn’t helping matters. I had yet to send out invitations when I thought, “I need a vacation already.” My mind started to wander “My daughter is half Puerto Rican… what’s the temperature there now? What? It’s 70 DEGREES WARMER?”
And that was it, my mind was set.
At first, I was going to rent an apartment and car in Puerto Rico. That, in turn, led to a lot of elaborate vacation plans that started to look and feel just like the big birthday party I was planning. I needed simple — super simple, if it was going to be relaxing. It turned out that a nice hotel on the beach and a 10-minute cab ride from the airport would be cheapest. Sounded good to me.
We stayed at the Intercontinental Hotel in San Juan. I got my amazing first birthday photos of Clementine, and she got sand, swimming, cake and even a birthday gift from the hotel (yes, you’d get one, too). On the night of Clementine’s actual birthday, we had dinner by the pool, sang Happy Birthday and wore party hats. The best part? I didn’t have to clean the floor afterward. The hotel staff was incredibly sweet and helpful. Who knew that I could feel refreshed the day after my daughter’s first birthday?
Here are some tips to ensure your trip is a relaxing one:
1. Splurge on a good room.
I spent a lot of time in the hotel room napping, changing diapers and all of the usual baby care. I chose a hotel with newly renovated rooms — the ocean view was a bonus. A good room is important especially when Baby’s bedtime is 7 PM. (Don’t forget to ask for a crib ahead of time).
2. Do an initial babyproofing walk-through when you first get to your hotel.
We immediately discovered that the lock opened automatically from the inside, so our daughter could (and would) toddle right out into the hallway. We knew to always use the top chain-lock as well.
3. Get a room with a fridge.
We went to the grocery store first thing (location being another perk of our hotel) and stocked up with milk and snacks. If you’re on a budget, a fridge can save you a lot of money if you don’t eat out every meal.
4. Call the hotel ahead of time and let them know you’re celebrating your baby’s first birthday.
Ours did and added in some sand toys as a gift!
5. Don’t plan to leave the hotel if you don’t have to.
My daily New York City grind include appointments and commuting with my daughters. At the hotel, the only places we went were the pool and the beach.
6. Take photos.
That’s what it’s all about, right!?