The cost associated with a start-up business is always more than estimated. So, my financial advisor (aka my husband James), had us on flight restriction all winter long, stating that sacrifices must be made to live out our dreams. This guy can be a real buzz kill at times. Accordingly, through the polar vortex and the harsh winters snow, we waited for our sunny break.
On one of her snow days, Giana impressed me with a new skill she acquired in class. She begged to use my laptop and created a google slideshow presentation. “Why we need to take a family vacation.” She asked me to provide her with a picture of James on a beach, as her closing slide. I obliged and she captained the picture, this could be you. She proceeded to email it to her father and conference called him to present her case. She was speaking Jame’s language and it was effective. There was no denying daddy’s little girl. We booked our flights to Orlando, FL by the end of that day!
We prefer to travel all-inclusive, we find it to be the most relaxing experience. Knowing exactly how much the total trip cost will be and not worrying about calculating tips and settling bills at each meal. Not to mention all the other added benefits that we receive when we travel within our vacation membership. A family of four traveling with two small kids can quickly add up when you are paying for each meal, snack and drink individually. However, our vacation approval was restricted to the USA by the wise guy.
Through RCI we have the option of trading our all-inclusive resort week for timeshare properties. Some of these timeshare properties are dated, some are plush but the cost is minimal if you exchange your weeks. Our original plan was to do a trade for a timeshare in Orlando. We had done Disney last year, so we were not interested in the amusement parks. Just sun, swim and quality family time.
It had been two years since our last big trip as a family. As our vacation neared and I dug in on the research. What activities did the timeshare offer? What events were happening in Orlando? I found myself pining for the beach and changed our destination from Orlando to Clearwater Beach and boy am I glad I did!
The B Resort and Spa, Kissimmee Florida
We spent the first and last night at the B Resort and Spa in Kissimmee Florida. This budget-friendly hotel is modernly decorated and has a great location for Disney Spring and Disney’s parks. I booked one night through our vacation membership portal for $145 and found the last night on Expedia for $154. The resort also charges a $30 resort fee. The free shuttle bus is offered to the local attractions; the rooms are basic but clean.
Knowing we would be there for a short stay on arrival and departure days, we booked the stunning poolside double queen. What was misleading, is that neither night that we stayed were we assigned a room adjacent to the pool. The first night was a second-floor pool view room. When I asked the desk clerk about the booking, she stated they consider both the first and second floors of the hotel to be in this room category. She assured me she would reserve a first-floor room for our last night. When we returned our room on the last night was still not a poolside room. Instead, we were off the pool towards the courtyard, outside of the pool gate. For that reason, this resort doesn’t get the Laufty Life endorsement. Call it what it is. Transparency and honesty is the best way to win travelers.
THE BEACH- Clearwater Beach, Florida
People travel with different goals in mind, some want a cultural experience or to see historical sites. Give me the choice and I will choose the beach every single time. The ocean cleanses my soul; the sunset revives my energy and with sand between my toes I find calm clarity.
Here are my top five reasons for recommending a family vacation to Clearwater Beach, Florida.
- Voted the #1 Beach by TripAdvisor in 2018:
Clearwater’s breathtaking views surrounded us at every corner, as we drove over the bridge we were captivated. The super soft white sand does not disappoint sandwiched between Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico it is an island of fun. The water was calm enough for the girls to wade in the ocean and the sunsets were out of this world. Good enough for a magazine. I booked us a Groupon for beach family photoshoot for $75! Irwin Photography to capture the beauty of this trip.
2. Hopping Beach Activities
Read a book sitting on your rented beach chair under a rented umbrella or take part in the many activities along the shore. No need to plan too much or search in advance beach side activities are everywhere.
- Ride the Ferris Wheel at Pier 60
- Take a bike taxi
- Watch Fireworks off Pier 60 nightly
- Ride a pirate boat
- See sand art at Sugar Sand Festival
- Check out the street performers: Giana got on stage with the flaming ginger!
3. Plenty of excursions are at your fingertips.
Walk along the pier and book on the spot. We went off the main drag to Dunedin, Florida to port for our dolphin excursion with Parrotdise boat tours. It was an intimate boat experience with less tourist and bottomless drinks. We not only got to see some very cute dolphins jump out of the ocean, but we also viewed celebrity homes including Tom Cruise’s penthouse near the compound for Scientology. Plus, the home Kristi Ally bought from Lisa Presley. While you are there check out lunch at Pearls Beach Eats.
We traded Buckys for Dolphins. It’s the simple things that entertain the kids. Giana noticed there were painted statues of Dolphins around the cute beach town like the Bucky tour they did in our hometown Madison, WI. That sent the girls on a mission, they wanted a picture by every dolphin statue they could find. It made for a fun dolphin hunt. They spotted dolphins and we pulled over, cross the road, climbed the stairs to get a picture with each one. The girls have already made those pictures into a scrapbook.
5. Rooftop Dining, Gorgeous Sunsets
The sunset in Clearwater is just glorious. There are plenty of places to enjoy it. We lucked out with a family-friendly suite at the Hyatt Regency Clearwater Florida Beach Resort and Spa which I will do a full review of. Our room was on the 16thfloor with the rooftop hot tub and beautiful views. The last night we dined at the Marina Catina with a rooftop table in Clearwater and it was a night I will hold dear to my heart. The margaritas were delicious; the sunset view was outstanding and the food was scrumptious. They have their own boats to bring in fresh fish daily, heat lamps, the atmosphere is amazing.
Family memories made on the beach
I am grateful for the time we spent as a family, bonding, snuggling and exploring this beach. Misha made strides in learning how to swim with daddy in the deep end, and although she is super tall for her age without naps she is still our baby girl. She is fierce and tears flow easily when she doesn’t get her way. Like it’s her turn to push the elevator button. I finished a book on the beach and gave myself permission to just breathe.
Giana is maturing and she has plans, so many plans. She is my mini-mogul and the girl knows what she wants. She asked to spend one on one time with just me and requested we do an unplugged challenge for 24 hours. While I wanted to reach for my phone for this or that, it was a great opportunity for us to shut out the world and focus on each other.
Regardless of the number of flips James did on that beach bed, he didn’t get anywhere close to the shade of melanin glowing from me and the girl’s skin. It was nice to see him unwind and hear him acknowledge that this was a well-deserved and needed break for us all. At the end of one night, we retreated to our suite and piled into the master king bed. We played ship, captain crew. I know the girls will treasure this spring break trip for years to come.