The early check-in that never happened

by Staci Blunt

This story is part of our 'Travelling with Kids' series, featuring tales from luxury hotel guests which were sent in for our recent travel writing competition.

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A local, mid-week resort break in Scottsdale was much anticipated by our family since the spring weather was just gorgeous. A half-day off from school left the kid's friends in a jealous state, but wouldn't make their teachers too upset that they were ditching class to go play.

Due to a tight budget, we planned a stay of less than 24 hours. I had called in early that morning to the luxurious Hyatt Regency at Gainey Ranch to request an early check-in, a privilege that members of their frequent guest program enjoy. With an official check-in time of 4PM, we arrived at the resort about half past noon only to be told that our room wasn't yet quite ready and that the cleaning crew were just now getting to it.

After storing our bags, teen-aged Tara, along with 9-year old Kyle and his best friend Carter begged to hit the pool while we waited for our room. A storm was expected to roll in later that evening, but for now the sun was still shining brightly and the multi-tiered, turquoise pools with surrounding magenta bougainvillea beckoned.

Relaxation came gradually as I dozed a bit and the kids happily splashed from pool to pool and down the slide. Interrupted from my sleepy stupor by hungry kids, I checked back again at the front desk--still no room. I decided that if I left and obtained food, then the room would be ready that much sooner when I returned. I left the kids in the resort pool with orders to stay together and went in search of Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) which was what they wanted to eat--picnic-style. I had asked at the front desk for the nearest location and was told that it was right around the corner.

I arrived only to find that the KFC around the corner had apparently become a victim of the poor economy and closed. Knowing that my kids had their hearts set on this meal, I drove around for over an hour after calling directory assistance, my husband and anybody else who could direct me to Colonel Sanders. After learning that there was only one KFC in all Scottsdale, I drove for miles south to find it just to satisfy the hungry "birdies" waiting for me back at the nest.

Nearly an hour and a half later with bucket of chicken in hand, I returned to three upset, water-logged kids. Where had I been all this time?? Didn't I know better than to worry them like this? Nevertheless, we chowed down hungrily on the chicken like lions attacking our prey. Once finished, our room still wasn't ready so we wandered the resort, exploring the pathways, playground and gardens, leaving a watery, muddy trail behind us.

Finally, I slumped down exhausted, dreaming of soft sheets, a cool shower and the peace of a quiet room. Suddenly a loud noise jolted me awake. Was it thunder from the storm? No, it was my phone ringing at 3:53 PM. Our early check-in was ready...

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