Greetings! For the first time since early March, I finally spent the night somewhere other than my house! Our last family hotel stay was at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel and Spa. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would go seven months before another but COVID-19 had other plans.
Ever since we first went into lockdown in March, we have been taking COVID-19 and quarantine very seriously. When doctors told everyone to stay home and not travel unless it was essential, we abided. We have minimized our contact with others in every way possible, doing our part to slow the spread. Heck, the first few weeks of lockdown I rarely left the house. When things slowly started re-opening, we took baby steps and started by going to the beach during off-peak hours and ordering take-out. We still haven’t eaten at a restaurant, indoors or out and we haven’t let anyone in our house since March. Not, friends, family or the repairman … I’ve gotten pretty handy these past six months.
Before COVID struck, we had all kinds of dream trips planned, like the Four Seasons Maui for Easter and a summer getaway at Ocean House in Rhode Island. We were supposed to take our newborn, Olivia, to see our families on the east coast (Florida, Connecticut and Toronto) and meet some of her relatives for the very first time.
I felt terrible for my wife, who hadn’t been out of California since May 2019 because she was pregnant and her doctors grounded her early on in her pregnancy. So she hasn’t been back to her native Canada in well over a year. And then of course, there’s my mother-in-law in Toronto and my 91-year-old dad on lockdown in a Florida senior center, who are missing their children and grandchildren terribly. My dad had gotten used to my surprise visits every three weeks pre-COVID.
RELATED: Weekend Getaways from Los Angeles
I still haven’t been on a plane since late February but I can now say I’ve stayed at a hotel. As I mentioned earlier, I’m taking baby steps. The overall consensus seems to be that COVID-19 probably isn’t going away any time soon but the good news is that you can still travel as long as you do it responsibly. That’s what we tried to accomplish on our first trip.
Since my wife really needed a change of scenery and it was her birthday, we arranged a stay at one of her favorite local hotels, The Lido House in Newport Beach (part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection). Full disclosure: They gave us a media rate and an upgrade to one of their incredible cottages. My wife is working on that story now and it will be published soon so stay tuned!
The Lido House is just a 45-minute drive from LAX but even just thinking about packing up and leaving our cozy house made it feel like we were going halfway around the world. I’m almost embarrassed to say that I was nervous about the trip. And yes, I’m someone who has done back to back, round-the-world trips and has been to over 70 countries.
I kept thinking, are we doing the responsible thing? Will the kids be okay? Will we get COVID-19? My biggest concern was the hotel. Would the workers and guests be taking the pandemic seriously and will our room be coronavirus-free?
Most of my concerns were eased as soon as I walked into the hotel lobby. When we pulled up to the hotel, I told valet that I was checking in and left Natalie, Jack and Olivia in the car. I wanted to scope out the scene because if it didn’t feel right, we might have just headed back home. But when I walked into the empty and spotless lobby, I saw the workers behind the front desk were both wearing masks properly (covering their mouths and noses) and that they had plexiglass between us as well as a table to make sure guests kept their distance. My fears and concerns started to subside.
When we arrived to our gorgeous and stylish cottage, Natalie jumped out of the car first to photograph it before our Tasmanian devil of a son got in there and started messing things up. When we walked through the front door, I took my mask off and my son jumped around with a huge smile on his face. He was so excited for our road trip and he was not disappointed! We immediately unpacked, put on our bathing suits and hit the pool. The pool butler wore a medical mask and offered us water and most guests going in and out were wearing masks but no one had them on in the pool. But every guest did have one on in the lobby.
As I said, my wife will write about our stay at Lido House in detail but I wanted to share that our very first trip since March felt great. We all felt alive again, like we were truly on vacation and we’re already planning our next trip!