“If you get tired learn to rest, not to quit” – Banksy
“…Accomplish this with a staycation!” – Me
Before kids, we thought Jessica had Seasonal Affective Disorder – she often felt depressed during the coldest months of the year. Since having kids, there’s no time to be depressed, but we still try to offset the dreary effects the weather may have on us by going on adventures. Last weekend, our adventure was a staycation at the Chase Park Plaza Royal Sonesta Hotel in Saint Louis, MO – our home town and current residence.
There is no vacation easier than packing the car with a few things you need for two days in a hotel and driving 15 minutes to your destination.
I have two very fond memories of the Chase. First, it was the brunch spot of where we went to celebrate when I graduated from grad school. Second, that’s where Jessica and I celebrated our two year wedding anniversary (we’re at 5 years now). This staycation just happened to line up with our 8 year meet-aversary. As a result, this celebration will be tacked on to the list of happy memories I have of the Chase.
Upon entering the lobby, I immediately remembered the lively atmosphere that is ever present. There is a movie theatre, 3 restaurants, many many ballrooms and a ton of event spaces, so there is no shortage of energy in the air.
As soon as we unpacked our bags we started getting ready to go to a party hosted by a friend of mine that ended up being just 3 blocks away. This coincidence was quite a fortunate situation because it was about 25 degrees, blustery and snowing. On our way, we stopped in a little Thai restaurant called Thai 202 for some delicious noodles and Tom Yum soup. We live in a relatively walkable neighborhood (Benton Park – next to Soulard), but Central West End is like living in a big city in terms of how many restaurants there are! Anyway, the party was a blast, Bash got to make a new friend with another 4 year old there, and the 3 block walk home was a cinch. We really felt like we were taking full advantage of staying right in the heart of the Central West End.
We woke up Saturday morning with absolutely nothing on the schedule, which certainly NEVER happens. The goal for the day was to go do a typical STL activity. The runner-up was to grab picnic food from the grocery store across the street and stroll into the expansive Forest Park to enjoy the sunshine and good grub. Alas, it was just a bit chilly for that, so we settled on the Science Center and catching an Omnimax flick(huge concave screen that wraps around nearly your entire field of vision) about air craft carriers. It turned out that air craft carrier movies mostly focus on war and death, which is a conversation I don’t look forward to having with our kids… But, it was still a good experience – the kids find a new part of the Science Center every time we go. Eventually, we’ll have to break Bash of the habit of calling it the “Baby Sitter”. I promise we don’t just drop him off and leave 😉
On the way back to the Hotel from the Science Center we received a little “test” in the form of a flat tire. As we were turning left through a stop light, a curb jumped out and made us run over it 😉 As one must do, we figured out how to 1) safely pull over on the side of the road 2) call road side assistance 3) realize they were going to take about an hour to arrive 4) fix the flat ourselves and finally 4) cancel road side assistance – all in 30 minutes!. The universe thought we needed a little more adventure in our weekend adventure. I think we passed the test.
Back at the hotel, we recovered from the morning with some quiet time in the room. After a little recovery time, we headed back out to the wide world of the Chase. It was frigid outside, so it was very pleasant having what seemed like acres of indoor space to explore. I’m pretty sure we opened every door that wasn’t locked, and I know that we found some architectural and interior design wonders.
The kids had a blast with the little closet-sized phone booths that still had functioning pay phones. Unfortunately, the day of exploring had to come to an end, and we hit the hay in two Queen sized beds.
This was a first for us! It was actually only the second trip that we didn’t bring any travel cribs! Travel cribs are the biggest accessory required for babies and not having to bring two of them has felt like complete freedom!
Oh man, morning two brought a scrumptious repeat breakfast buffet at The Preston – one of the restaurants in the Hotel. I still can’t stop thinking about the biscuits and gravy. And beyond that, everything was super fresh and delectable. This is no breakfast buffet at a cut rate hotel – every single dish looked like it was prepared 5 minutes before using ingredients straight from Whole Foods. The coffee was served in fancy, stainless, insulated carafes. Not so surprisingly, they also had amazing Fruit Loops and Raisin Bran – that was the kids’ favorite 😉
By the end of the weekend we felt rejuvenated. Not so much physically as we are constantly chasing two kids, but emotionally I felt renewed by not doing any laundry, home repairs, meal prep, cooking, nor cleaning. Of course, we paid for that luxury with some prep work and some catch up work afterwards, but it was a necessary break from the hustle of everyday life.