A glorious week with my children


| vschneps@queenscourier.com |

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I had always dreamed of staying at the Fontainbleau Hotel in Miami Beach, and it is perfect for our family getaway!

When my daughter and grandson said at the beach “this is the most perfect day of my life,” I knew I had made the right choice for a family getaway.

Since I celebrated a “significant” birthday, I decided months ago to take my children on a trip together. It’s not easy planning for the needs of seven adults and five children from the age of one to seven years. It was a journey all by itself!

I thought I could do it on my own, but after many false starts I realized I needed a professional. My daughter Samantha knew Mike Giarretto from Cruise Planners of Oyster Bay and after my first call to him I knew I was in good hands!

We began a search of family-friendly cruises because I know how relaxing that can be since you unpack once and all your activities are there for all ages. But there’s one glitch — any child who is not toilet trained can’t go in the pool, even the kiddy pool! Scratch a cruise.

Next I thought of the all-inclusive resorts in Mexico. I had been to Cancun and there is a lot going on there and a direct flight from New York. Well, one of my grandchildren had gotten sick when they were away with their parents out of the country and it was a terrible hassle finding a pediatrician. Needing passports added to the trouble because not everyone had one. Scratch that idea.

Then I heard about the multimillion-dollar renovation and condo buildings that were offered by the famous

Fontainebleau Hotel in good old Miami Beach. It was my dream hotel growing up when every Christmas break we visited my aunt and cousins living in Coral Gables and Miami. We always stayed with them but I dreamt of one day staying at the fabulous Fontainebleau. My aunt ran the lobby shop at the Sterling Hotel and every day I passed the luxurious facility on my way to see her. Well, finally it was my chance to be there!

It met our criteria of having little apartments rather than hotel rooms and each family has their own. I was thrilled to see they had the equivalent of a spacious one-bedroom that easily sleeps four and I had my own studio “apartment” facing the ocean 36 floors above. I just made myself a cup of coffee in my mini kitchen and I’m sipping it as I write.

The hotel is situated on 42 acres abutting the beach just north of the now-famous South Beach. When I was a kid it was a rundown area that we went to for one thing: Joe’s Stone Crab House. Otherwise the neighborhood was to be avoided, but after all that was 50 years ago. A lot has changed since then!

When I’m at a beach resort I love just sitting and reading by the ocean listening to its roar and looking at the endless flow of the whitecaps. My first “job” was to get us lounges on the beach and bring the many beach toys Elizabeth, my daughter with two-year-old Addison and four-year-old Jonah, had brought. Since Samantha was with us with four-year-old

Morgan and my dearest “old man,” seven-year-old Blake, they were kept busy for hours digging at the beach. Ironically, the hotel had a beach digging area with dozens of shovels and baskets . . . oh well!

The hotel has three pools surrounded by an outdoor cafe. There are also 12 outdoor and indoor fine and casual dining rooms and lounges. Its night club, my Miami cousin Peter Ostrowsky said, is the hottest spot in town!

But give me old-fashioned room service. I love breakfast in bed and this morning I’m relishing sitting on my terrace with my coffee having been delivered to me.

Josh with his Tracey and one-year-old Hudson arrived last night and we are all off to the beach. Later today I will experience the hotel’s Lapis Spa, a 40,000-square-foot spa overlooking the ocean.

I’m here to restore and luxuriate with my children. Here’s to the sun and relishing our time away.