We took our first family vacation last week. We drove down to Galveston and spent a few days relaxing.
I’ve been wanting to get away for a short trip with Gavin to see how he handles traveling. Since our anniversary was last week, we figured it was a perfect time to get away for a few days. We drove down on Monday, taking our time on the drive and making a few stops along the way. We arrived in Galveston a little after 3:00 pm, checked in the hotel, and unwound from the drive. When we felt refreshed, we took off walking and did some shopping and had dinner.
Tuesday morning we relaxed at the hotel, then headed to Moody Gardens. We went to the beach in the afternoon. It was Gavin’s first time at a beach. We didn’t stay long, but we all got in the water and lounged on the beach. After the beach, we stopped at the hotel pool. Since we were already in our swimsuits, we figured why not check out the pool? It was Gavin’s first time in a pool, and he did great – he splashed the water and had a big ‘ole time.
We left to head home on Wednesday morning. After checking out of the hotel, we drove around to see more of Galveston. We took our time on the drive home, making several quick stops.
We stayed two nights. We booked a room with two queen beds with full beach view balcony ($110 per night). Normally, I prefer to book a room with a king bed, but this was a last minute trip (booked the hotel the day before we left), and I wanted a room with a balcony and a view of the Gulf of Mexico. This was what was available.
Location: Very good. On Seawall Boulevard, near the beach, restaurants, and shopping.
Our Room: We stayed in room 314 on the third floor. It was an average size, clean room. Our room had a private balcony with a view of the pool and the Gulf of Mexico. The room had two queen beds and three pillows per bed- the bed was comfortable. The room included a desk and chair, nightstand between the two beds, wardrobe with hangers and luggage rack, tv with remote, wall lamp between the beds, lamp on the nightstand, minifridge, coffee maker, dresser (3 drawers), phone, and a safe. The coffee maker was a Keurig and four coffee pods were provided, along with disposable cups and cream and sugar packets. The outlets were in good locations, and USB plugs were also available. The bathroom had a tub/shower combo, sink, toilet, hair dryer, 4 body towels, 4 hand towels, 4 washcloths, 2 drinking cups, and toiletries (soap, lotion, shampoo, and conditioner). The temperature in our room fluctuated a lot during the night. The thermostat was sat at 69°F, but our baby monitor displayed the temperature from 69-73°F.
Amenities: Free Wi-Fi, pool, fitness room, restaurant, bar, and room service. The Wi-Fi was good – I didn’t have any problems connecting and it worked fine for us. The swimming pool was great, and wasn’t crowded while we were there. We didn’t use the fitness room, but it was in a separate building and looked nice. We never ate at the hotel, so not sure about the food. We did get drinks from the swim-up bar while we were in the pool. The bar had a good selection of drinks with typical bar prices.
Service: Check-in was a breeze, and they gave us free cookies. My only complaint was we didn’t have any housekeeping service. We stayed two nights (Monday and Tuesday), so our room should have been cleaned some time during the day on Tuesday. After our day out and about, we returned to a room that hadn’t been cleaned. As we were leaving the hotel to go eat dinner, I stopped at the front desk and asked them to have someone clean our room. We were gone a couple of hours, but our room was still not cleaned when we returned. I called the front desk and again requested service. After about 30 minutes, I called again and said never mind about the cleaning, but we need more towels and coffee. About 10 minutes later we got the items requested. It was about 10:00 pm by then, so I wasn’t too happy with the service.
Not sure I would stay here again. The location was great, we arrived to a clean room with a good view, and we enjoyed the pool and swim-up bar; however, the service was lacking. We got a reasonable price since we booked last minute, but I wouldn’t pay more than we did for the hotel. It comes down to service. If we had gotten better service, I would definitely recommend this hotel.
***UPDATE*** – After our vacation, I completed a survey Doubletree had e-mailed us asking about our stay. I mentioned my issue with housekeeping services. The manager e-mailed me to apologize and said it was discussed at the staff meeting. Also, a partial refund was issued to us. This tells me that the management is concerned about how the hotel is operated and how the guests feel about their time there. If we plan another trip to Galveston, I would look at staying at Doubletree again. I want to like this hotel.
Food & Drink
Bubba Gump – We ate dinner here on Monday night. The restaurant was located at Pleasure Pier, which was closed on Monday, so the restaurant was the only thing open. Good for us because it wasn’t busy. We sat in the upper outside seating area – there was an elevator to use. It was a good meal – we had the Shrimp Shack Mac & Cheese appetizer, I had Lt. Dan’s Drunken Shrimp and Michael had Shrimp New Orleans. For drinks, we had the Lt Dan Pomegranate Punch (me) and beer (Michael). I also had the key lime pie for dessert. It’s vacation! I get dessert, right! Gavin was asleep when we got there, but when he woke up I fed him two pouches of baby food. After that, he was happy. The food, drinks, location, and service were all great. I would eat here again.
Brick House Tavern & Tap – We stopped here for a late lunch (around 2:00 pm). We had the meat and cheese board as an appetizer. I had the Brick Grinder sandwich and Michael had the Chicken & Waffles. I don’t know if we weren’t that hungry or if the portions were large, but we both needed a to go box. They had a good beer selection and offered a hand pulled cask beer. Michael ordered the cask beer, which tasted okay. We sat outside and enjoyed the wonderful weather. The service was great, and I would eat here again.
Fish Tales – We had our anniversary dinner here. Gavin fell asleep on the walk here and slept until we got back to the hotel. Apparently, we had worn that baby out with our activities. Anyway, we had the crab stuffed mushroom appetizer, I had the broiled seafood platter and Michael had the ribeye. I had the Hammer Head (basically a Hurricane) and Michael had beer. The food and service was good and we had a great evening. Once again, we dined outside. This restaurant did have an elevator for us to use since we had the stroller with a sleeping baby, so we were able to get to the second level smoothly. I would eat here again.
Sam Houston Statue – We stopped here on the way to Galveston. Gavin needed to eat and get out of his car seat for a litle while. We saw a sign for the statue and visitor center and decided to check it out. It was a great place for us to stop, and we enjoyed walking around.
Moody Gardens – We went to the aquarium, rainforest, and paddlewheel boat ride. One thing that I didn’t think about was school field trips. We went on a Tuesday, and it was packed with school groups. The buses were lined up out front when we arrived. We hurried in to try and beat some of the crowds, but it was still very busy. We saw the aquarium first, and that’s where all the school groups were. We didn’t have any problems with crowds in the rainforest or boat ride. Gavin did great and seemed to have fun. He liked the aquarium the best – he especially liked the seals. He got a bit fussy on the boat ride, which was the last thing we did. He was fighting a nap, and as soon as we left, he fell asleep. There were quite a few families with strollers while we were at Moody Gardens. It’s family friendly and the exhibits can be entertaining for adults and children. I thought that it was a little overpriced, but we had a great day. A day pass for one adult is $60, but you can buy individual tickets too. If you’re doing everything there, then the day pass is a good value. We bought individual tickets because we knew we wouldn’t do everything. When we arrived, we only bought aquarium tickets, but since we had fun with that we decided to do a couple more things. Ages 3 and under are free, so it didn’t cost anything for Gavin.
Beach – We went to the beach near the hotel. We weren’t planning on staying too long, but we enjoyed our short time on the beach. The beach we were on was clean and wasn’t crowded.
Davey Dogwood State Park – We stopped here on the way home. Once again, Gavin needed to eat and get out of his car seat for a bit. We saw a sign for the park and decided it would be a good place to stop. We parked at a picnic area to take a break, and then drove through the park. It was a nice park, and had lots of picnic areas.
Overall, this was a fairly inexpensive vacation destination. We did pack sandwich fixin’s and water for the trip. We stopped and fixed sandwiches for lunch on the drive down and on the way home. We chose to eat out while in Galveston, so our food & drink expenses were higher because of that. For sightseeing, we mainly did free things (Sam Houston Statue, beach, hotel pool, and Davey Dogwood State Park), so Moody Gardens was our greatest cost on activities. As I mentioned above, we got a reasonable price on the hotel. Our only other expenses were gas and shopping. We’re not big shoppers, but I did want some souvenirs. I ended up buying a Christmas ornament, a charm for my bracelet, and some clothes for Gavin (t-shirts and a tropical print outfit).
Gavin did great on his first vacation. He was teething, so he woke up on the first night and was fussy for a little while, but otherwise he was his usual happy self. We took his pack n’ play for him to sleep in at the hotel. Packing for traveling with a baby wasn’t too hard, and now I’m more aware of what he really needs and what we can do without. Really, we didn’t pack much that we didn’t use – mainly had extra baby food, clothes, and diapers.
It was a wonderful family vacation, and I’m so glad we took a few days off to travel together.