Sunday, February 25, 2024
Home Vacation Plan a Special Vacation With an Older Parent, by Travel Writers

Plan a Special Vacation With an Older Parent, by Travel Writers

by Staff

By Nicola Bridges

As we walked down the long corridor, stopping for the fourth time to catch a breath, I was beginning to think I’d done the wrong thing booking into a large resort hotel. My mom, a real trouper who never complains, said, “It’s OK sweetie. It just takes me a minute. We’ll be by the pool before we know it.”

She’s 86. We were in Palm Springs for an impromptu vacation, and things were not going as planned. I’d agonized whether to stay in a small, boutique hotel where the restaurant, breakfast buffet, cozy lounge, outdoor deck and small pool were within feet of the lobby elevator. But it felt too confining for a whole week of relaxing and “just doing nothing,” as my mom had requested.

So I’d opted instead for one of the desert valley’s large resorts — the Renaissance Esmeralda Resort & Spa, Indian Wells — knowing that we’d pretty much be staying put, relaxing at the one location due to my mom’s mobility constraints and difficulty getting in and out of the car. I was proud that my thinking had led me to book our stay in a resort where we would be entertained and have options, but I’d failed to think about the many steps it would take to get from our room to the lobby elevator and everything else in the hotel.

We initially checked into a room that I’d requested as close to the lobby as possible, but my mom’s first shower — which required stepping over the side of the tub, difficult with a hip and knee replacement — proved precarious. Preferring safety over location, I switched us to the only available accessible room with a walk-in shower in the fully booked resort: a mini suite, floors above and quite far from the lobby elevator.

After our slow walk-rest-walk-rest amble from the room, we arrived at the lobby lounge and parked at a table to unload our assortment of word puzzles and coloring books, playing cards, knitting, embroidery and iPads, and I headed to the cafe to bring back coffees and croissants, as I did every morning of our stay. We got up at what I came to call “senior o’clock,” showered and sat on our suite’s patio with a bird’s-eye view from the sixth floor, watching the families arrive at the pool below to claim their loungers and unload their bags of pool toys.

Once the lobby cafe was open, we headed down and spent most of the days in the lounge or under the spritzer fans on the poolside patio in the shade playing cards, coloring and crafting, then lunch, then back to the room for a rest and to read, more card-playing or crafts, more patio people-watching — and then dress for dinner.

By 8 p.m. Mom was ready for bed. I’d check my email and read, then stare at the ceiling for hours, my night-owl mind not used to the early-bird senior wind-down. Then my mom would be up and shuffling around at dawn and we’d do it all over again.

At first I was antsy, but by day three I’d learned to go at her pace and enjoy the luxury of the lazy days. I was happy to just be with my mom, knowing that behind her contented octogenarian smile she always wonders and quietly worries if this might be the last time we take a trip together.

What I learned from this trip is that time with older parents is precious, and my trip with my mom was time well-spent. Here are some ways I discovered that made our holiday more manageable.

Make your parent’s health and comfort your No. 1 priority when booking everything from the hotel to the room offering to sightseeing excursions. Consider how you’ll be spending your stay. If you’ll be mostly at the hotel, a larger resort will have a greater variety of pastimes onsite for longer stays, such as game rooms and multiple eating options. For short stays, a cozy boutique hotel may offer a more intimate and luxurious home away from home.

No matter how spry and mobile they are, most seniors appreciate a ground-floor room or one that is close to the lobby elevator. Call ahead to check if your room requires more than a 10-minute walk to the resort’s amenities and if wheelchairs and golfcarts are available.

If you’ll be spending most of your time at the hotel, look for one with a variety of seating areas inside and outside and different eating options onsite that provide some variety. Make sure to check if the hotel offers senior discounts or AARP membership room rates.

While you can book most amenities online, call and speak with a live person at the hotel to follow up on any special requests. Don’t hesitate to ask if the hotel can make your travel companion’s stay extra-special with perks, such as a complimentary fruit basket.

Research close-by activities and excursions that minimize stress on your parent, such as a wheelchair-accessible botanical garden or park. Anticipate taking it easy, and don’t overplan your travel itinerary and sightseeing.

Be kind to yourself. Perhaps treat yourself to a hotel spa treatment or some pool time during your parent’s afternoon nap.

WHEN YOU GO

www.marriott.com/en-us/hotels/pspsr-renaissance-esmeralda-resort-and-spa-indian-wells/overview

The author and her mother enjoyed watching families in the pool from their sixth-floor balcony at the Renaissance Esmeralda Resort & Spa, Indian Wells, California. Photo courtesy of Nicola Bridges.

 When traveling with older parents, it's important to slow down and do the things they like to do. Photo courtesy of Nicola Bridges.

When traveling with older parents, it’s important to slow down and do the things they like to do. Photo courtesy of Nicola Bridges.

 Palm Springs, California, turned out to be a perfect location for the vacation the author shared with her mother. Photo courtesy of Phil Allen.

Palm Springs, California, turned out to be a perfect location for the vacation the author shared with her mother. Photo courtesy of Phil Allen.

Nicola Bridges is a freelance writer. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

The author and her mother enjoyed watching families in the pool from their sixth-floor balcony at the Renaissance Esmeralda Resort & Spa, Indian Wells, California. Photo courtesy of Nicola Bridges.

Leave a Comment

Copyright ©️ All rights reserved. | Tourism Trends