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For years, I’ve pulled my kids out of school for off-season travel. I’ve done it responsibly and followed the rules of our school district. See 5 Tips for Pulling Your Kids Out of School for Vacation. The benefits are big: lower crowds, cheaper costs and more vacation time!
As my kids grow older, we’ve cut back on this. I’m not willing to pull my son out of high school. But next school year, my daughter is in her last year of elementary school. For years, I’ve known that I will pull her out of school for likely the last time for an off-season vacation. And it’s gonna be a big one: a Disney cruise on the Disney Dream!
When we booked it, of course we didn’t know that the pandemic might throw a wrench in our plans. I go back and forth with my confidence level that the cruise will actually sail. Regardless, I still want to go somewhere with my daughter in the off-season. (Don’t worry, my sons have special trips planned at other times).
So, I’ve decided to come up with a back-up plan in case our cruise is cancelled. Most of my ideas involve Hyatt properties since I’m sitting on Hyatt points right now. As a reference, we are going to Disney World as a family this summer as well as an all-inclusive in Mexico (both were previously scheduled for 2020 but had to be postponed due to the pandemic). My daughter loves the beach and Disney.
Return to Andaz Costa Rica
Last year, right before the pandemic hit, my family traveled to Costa Rica. We stayed five nights at the Andaz Papagayo Peninsula, and we had an outstanding experience. The pools, the beaches, the monkeys…wow! My daughter has asked when we can go back.
I would also love to return to this resort. But honestly, I’m worried that in the off-season it might be a little too slow for a 10-year-old kid. When we were there, the resort was 95% booked, and it still felt empty. Often, my daughter was the only one in the kids’ club. If we go there by ourselves, she won’t have her siblings to swim with, and I’m wondering if she will be a little bored.
Visiting California would give us so many options. We could stay at Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach, which looks lovely. If Disneyland is open to out-of-state visitors at that time, we could swing by. We could also take a side trip to Catalina Island and stay at the Holiday Inn Catalina Island Resort using free night certs from our Chase IHG credit cards. So many possibilities!
Of course, since I lived in California, I know what a beating it can be to get around that area. Nothing is as close as it seems with all the traffic. This trip would not be nearly as relaxing as a cruise.
My family stayed at the Sheraton Sand Key Resort (near Clearwater) a few years ago, and we loved the area. Cash prices for hotels in Clearwater area in the fall are very low. If we stayed in the area, we could visit the Clearwater Marine Aquarium (from the Dolphin Tale movie). We could also visit Busch Gardens Tampa Bay.
Hyatt Ziva Cap Cana
Before my family decided to visit Costa Rica, we wrestled with the decision of choosing Andaz Papagayo vs. Hyatt Ziva Cap Cana in Punta Cana. We ultimately decided on Costa Rica, but I haven’t forgotten about Hyatt Ziva Cap Cana. Despite its rocky opening, the resort gets very positive reviews now.
Staying at Hyatt Ziva Cap Cana would be the most similar trip to our cruise. Food and entertainment are all included, we just have to show up! Even though we would be there in the off-season, there would likely still be other kids to play with. From a cost perspective, this destination would be the least expensive if I can stay entirely on Hyatt points.
Kalahari Resort in Round Rock, Texas
Maybe we don’t need to travel that far. A few hours south of us, a new Kalahari Resort opened up near Austin. While we’ve been to Great Wolf Lodge several times, we’ve never been to a Kalahari Resort.
However, even though it’s closer to us, this could be the most expensive option of them all! These water park resorts really nickel and dime you for every activity, and there are lots of things to tempt kids.
Thankfully, my daughter is really easy going and is up for anything. She would be happy with any of these choices. Which one would you pick? Any other ideas?
Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.
Nancy lives near Dallas, Texas, with her husband and three kids. Her favorite vacations include the beach, cruising and everything Disney.