It doesn’t have to cost a lot or pack a ton of calories (although diamonds and chocolate are always a nice added touch!). To me, the ultimate gift – especially in the midst of a long, cold winter – is to be whisked away from the mundane; taken away to a place where the constant stream of dishes, laundry and housework ceases to exist.
That’s exactly why my husband, Ian, decided to take the kids and I on a “staycation” to a hotel in Ottawa over Family Day weekend. Since we didn’t really have the time – or the budget – to head out of the city, we decided to capitalize on all the great things going on in our own backyard – right here in Ottawa.
We booked a two-night stay at the Courtyard by Marriott Ottawa East, and it turned out to be a great decision. Not only is the hotel very new – which means everything was fresh and clean – the location was the perfect proximity to all the Winterlude festivities taking place downtown.
Our family checked in to our Ottawa hotel room on Valentine’s Day. The whole weekend plan was a total surprise for our two daughters, ages nine and six. In fact, my husband had told both of them that we had dentist appointments booked for that evening, so you can imagine the thrill they got when we pulled up at the Marriott!
We haven’t spent a lot of time staying at hotel rooms in Ottawa – considering that we live here – but over the years we have stayed at tons of hotels across North America, so we have a pretty good sense of what constitutes a good hotel. One of the little things we loved about this one was that every room has a fridge, sink and microwave – so we were able to bring in popcorn and drinks for the kids (and some wine for us to enjoy after they went to sleep).
On Friday night, we all took a long swim in the hotel pool (we lucked out and had the whole pool area to ourselves!), followed by an indulgent soak in the hot tub. Back in our room, we decided it would be more relaxing to have pizza in our PJs – so we skipped going out and ordered from a spot around the corner.
Saturday was mild and sunny – the perfect conditions for a skate on the Rideau Canal. The hotel is about a five-minute drive from the Byward Market, where we parked and walked over with our skating gear. The kids made it about 2K – which is longer than they’ve lasted in the past – so we rewarded each of them with a Beavertail for their efforts. Back at the hotel that afternoon, Mommy indulged in a rare afternoon nap while the kids had some downtime watching TV. We finished off our day with a nice dinner at a Korean restaurant in Chinatown.
Following another swim on Sunday, we had all worked up a big appetite. So before checking out, we headed over to the hotel’s breakfast buffet at The Bistro. Having an awesome spread of French toast, eggs, bacon, sausage, fruit and coffee was the perfect end to our staycation. We left feeling full and happy – relaxed from our weekend away from the daily stresses of home.
And the best part? We didn’t even need to hunker down for a long drive home – we were back safe and sound in just 20 minutes.