Saturday, January 12, 2013

The luxury hotel night - one on one time with my middle girl

My 7 year old middle girl, E, had one burning wish for this summer.

"I want to stay at a 5-star hotel with you!" she proclaimed. "One that has a pool and room service, and you can watch a movie in the room! Just you and me together."

I talked to my partner and we decided that this was something we'd like to give E, if we could manage it. So I kept a weather eye on Wotif and was able to snaffle a night at the Grand Hyatt, in the middle of Melbourne, for a great price on the Wednesday just gone. My partner arranged to take the day off work on the Thursday, and we were set.

E's excitement, on being informed of this, knew no bounds. She immediately started making a list (and decorating it) of what we would do on our hotel stay.

She was also packing for the trip a good week before it was to take place, and by Wednesday morning, she was at a fever pitch of impatience, asking me every 15 minutes what time her dad would be home from work "so we can GO!"

Eventually the moment arrived, and, just before 5, we set off for the Grand Hyatt to have our night of luxury and one-on-one time.

The Grand Hyatt is a tastefully opulent place - clearly premium, without being flashy. From handing our car over to the valet onwards, E was entranced ("They will park it for us?" she asked incredulously.)

After checking in, and riding the elevators to our 17th-floor room (another big excitement), she was delighted, and I was relieved, to find that our room was gorgeous and had magnificent city views from two angles (we were lucky enough to get a corner room, which I highly recommend if you can swing it).

Next on the list after exploring the room was a visit to the hotel pool and spa. E was completely thrilled with the experience and even found a boy her own age to have swimming races with, while I enjoyed every muscle-easing minute in the enormous hot spa.

Back to the room, showered and dressed, E decided it was time to start pointing her camera at me. As you can see, I was feeling pretty good by this stage! In the pool, E and I had had a chance to talk and to play together, with her as my sole focus - something she rarely gets, and often craves. Her delight was infectious.

It made me wonder and reflect on when it was that I stopped playing with my older kids, in the sense of just mucking around and being a bit silly.

I still play lots of structured games with them - we are a Scrabble and Pictionary family, and my eldest and I do the chess thing with great regularity - but free-form play is not something I tend to do with the older kids anymore, and I think I need to change that. I still play like that with my almost-4 year old, and it's clear to me now that E also needs this kind of interaction on a regular basis.

Down to the hotel restaurant for dinner, E and I had a lovely meal - an asparagus salad with chickpeas and quinoa for me (very delicious) and pasta bolognese for her. ("It's yummy ... not as good as your bolognese, though," she whispered).

Because we had no fidgety Miss 3 to be working around, E and I were able to eat slowly and enjoy both our food and watching the activity on the street (we sat in a window booth, another excitement for her). We talked and she snuggled into my side, and it was great.

Back up to our room, we ordered room service for dessert (ice cream for her, a cheese and fruit plate for me) and settled in to watch a pay per view movie. E had selected the Katy Perry doco / film, Part of Me, and I admit I was a bit sceptical, but my cynicism was unjustified; I found the film quite interesting and engaging, in fact, and it gave me a different insight into an artist that both my older girls adore. (Especially her song "Firework", which, it must be said, I also have come around to quite liking).

I had no idea, for instance, that Perry is from a very evangelical Christian family with extremely conservative values, or that she began her career as a gospel singer. Nor did I realise that Perry was on the road touring for the entirety of her short-lived marriage to Russell Brand. Perry herself came across as a likeable, albeit driven, person, and it wasn't a hardship to have to sit through this with E.

Both E and I were quite tired by the time the movie finished around 9:30; we'd had several of the kids friends sleep over at our house the night before, where "sleep" is defined as "lie down and giggle a great deal for many hours", and we were a bit sleep deprived.

Snuggling down in the comfy bed, E fell asleep within minutes clutching my hand to her chest (in lieu of her forgotten sleep cuddly, a toy cat). I also dozed off quickly, but did stir in the night a few times - not due to noise (the room was so blessedly quiet, I could hear nothing from the street or neighbouring rooms) but due to asthma induced by the highly luxurious, but not very Kathy-allergy-friendly, down quilt we were sleeping under.

Still, it's a small thing. I did still sleep quite well - even with the Ventolin breaks, I would've clocked 8 hours overall - and I woke at 7:00 feeling pretty good.

E was entranced with the morning cityscapes from our windows, scurrying from sill to sill like an exciteable squirrel. She was only dissuaded from this project when our breakfast arrived - pancakes and berries for her, and gluten free amaranth based muesli for me with added fruit. (We ate every bite and it was very good!)

We popped back down to the pool for another swim and soak, and this time we had the entire spa and pool to ourselves, which led to much hilarity and also much relaxed floating in the warm water.

As we checked out, E squeezed my hand. "It was wonderful, Mum," she said.

It was a really great experience for us both, one I hope we'll be able to repeat one day. Lovely one on one time for me and my beautiful E.

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