понедельник, 16 декабря 2013 г.

Family Holidays: Austria, Lutzmannsburg, hotel Sonnenpark

I love kid's hotels! Of course, it was only after my daughter was born (she’s now six) that I first started to really appreciate them. When you travel with small kids you quickly find that you have different priorities and that you begin to pay attention to seemingly small things that can be adapted to make things more convenient for kids and families.
So, today’s blog post is about the wonderful kids’ hotel - Sonnenpark (4 stars), where you can relax all year round in any weather (especially the cold!) and with children of any age (even tiny ones!).
Some of our friends invited us to accompany them on a trip - it’s always fun traveling in a group and, indeed, it was great!
We went to Sonnenpark for the weekend from Friday to Sunday. It took us about an hour to get there by car from our home in Vienna, Austria, making this quite a comfortable journey with kids.
The hotel is fairly new but don’t expect to find it luxurious. This hotel is primarily focused on convenience and practical things for family vacations. It is, however, a very nice hotel...

The hotel has six types of rooms/suites including standard rooms, two-room suites, and larger family rooms. Standard rooms (Type A: 33-36 sqm) are for 2 adults, with an extra bed provided for a child.
We (2 adults and 1 child) stayed in a two-room suite (Type B: 36-43 sq.m.). This suite can accommodate 2 adults and 2 children; although it seemed a touch too small to easily fit the second bed for the kid there.
 There are larger family rooms: Type C, D, E, F (43-76 sq.m.).
You can find all of the prices for the rooms on the hotel’s website, the prices vary depending on the room type and seasonality. For example, the price per adult per room type A starts at 122 Euros, while the price for children varies from 29-67 Euros (depending on the kid’s age).

The room price includes three meals a day (which I’ll write more about below); entrance to the aqua park ‘
Sonnentherme’; use of the hotel pool (Sunny Bunny`s Water World); and entertainment in the kids’ club at the hotel and in the water park.
The rooms are spacious and include everything you need: a flat screen TV, mini-bar with water and soft drinks (included in the price), baby phones, an electric kettle. One particularly nice touch is that the hotel provides toys in the kids’ rooms (for those who left their toys at home) as well as some children’s books (although these are in German and Hungarian).

The hotel provides bathrobes and slippers for the whole family and you can ask for a baby cot in the room. There are also other necessities provided in the room: a small bath, a babyseat for the toilet, and other aids to make your stay at the hotel more comfortable with small kids.
On each floor of the hotel there is a microwave for use to warm up baby food.
Instead of room keys the hotel gives you and your child plastic bracelets to wear on your wrist, similar to a watch, which you can also use to gain entry to the aqua park. The bracelets are very convenient because you can still wear them while swimming so you don’t lose them. You can also rent a buggy/stroller from the hotel for free.
 The biggest highlight of the hotel is the aqua park ‘Sonnentherme’. This is great fun, with lots of pools for adults and children of all ages, including paddling pools.
The aqua park is open on weekdays and Sunday from 9am to 9pm, and on Friday and Saturday from 9am to 10pm; hotel guests can enter the aqua park early, from 8:30am.
The aqua park is divided into zones: Baby World with shallow warm water pools for the kids, and even a Jacuzzi. There’s an area nearby with baby food and a microwave and quiet corners where moms who are feeding little ones can sit.
The Fun & Speed ​​World zone is where the real fun begins... Large water slides of different levels of complexity for kids of different ages. Older kids and braver little ones will love the XXL Monster Ride (270m). For younger children try ‘Speedy’ and ‘Twister’.
 It’s important, as always, for parents to pay attention to the age limitations on rides:
‘Speedy’: 141m, for children over 11 years old.
‘Twister’: 202M, for children under 6 years – to be accompanied by an adult.
‘Air Racer’: 111m, for children under 8 years – to be accompanied by an adult. The older kids can ride alone.
‘XXL Monster Ride’: 270m, for children under 8 years old - to be accompanied by an adult.
On the wall there is a timer that shows the fastest times taken to ride the slides. The teenagers love to show-off!
The slides are quite high and you can go up by an elevator, which is pretty convenient.
In another part of this zone there are two slides for younger kids: ‘Quaxi’ & ‘Flipper’. Nearby there is a large-wave simulation pool - our daughter loved it!
For those who are fans of diving there is a small bridge from which you can jump into a deeper pool.
There is also a kids’ sauna and a steam room
In a separate swimming pool there is Sunny Bunny's Swim Academy where kids are taught to swim (for a fee). Swimming courses are available for children aged 3 months to 10 years old, as well as for adults and pregnant women.

For those kids who want to relax after all that swimming there’s the opportunity to spend some time at the kids’ club (Sunny Kiddy Club). Parents can leave kids here under the supervision of the entertainers where they can play with toys, paints and watch 3D movies! The club offers a full
kids’ entertainment program
For older children there is a corner with PlayStations.
While the kids have fun, the moms and dads can visit the spa where they can have a massage and/or beauty treatments.
There’s also a restaurant in the aqua park: Sunny Side Restaurant.
Sauna World: this zone is exclusively for adults. For those unfamiliar with the rules/customs in Austrian saunas, these saunas are for both men and women and most people go in naked. This zone has an infrared room, steam baths, herbal sauna, and a Finnish sauna with different temperature levels (the hottest one is on the street). There is a Jacuzzi and cold pools for use after the sauna – I highly recommend it... 

In the hotel itself, there is also a swimming pool and a kids’ club. The entertainers are very attentive and friendly; they also play with the kids at the kids’ club in the aqua park.
In the swimming pool there are water slides (not extreme ones) and plenty of sunbeds on which you can relax.
There are both pools indoors and outdoors in the fresh air, and these are heated so that you can still swim outside in winter should you want to.
The pools also have underwater massage (jet) stations.
From this area there is direct access to Sonnentherme (the aqua park). 
Nearby, there is a snack bar/pavilion, open from 1-5pm where you can eat cakes and pastries (buffet-style), there are also soft drinks and tea/coffee (free for the hotel guests).
The hotel’s mascot is Sunny Bunny and he is featured everywhere: on T-shirts and toys. The Sunny Bunny comes out every morning and evening to dance with the kids in the lobby, and is there to celebrate children’s birthdays too.
One thing I particularly liked at the hotel was the opportunity for kids to make their own soft toy. Your child can select the kind of fur the toy will have, e.g. a tiger, Sunny Bunny, or a teddy bear, and then they get to stuff it with a soft material. Each toy costs from 20 to 30 Euros depending on its size.
At the Kid's Club there is a varied entertainment program for children: they can paint, try Zumba lessons, watch 3D movies, drive toy cars, play on PlayStations, etc.
Just outside the entrance to the main restaurant on the lower floor there is a playroom on the right where kids can run, play table tennis, etc. 
There is also a small cinema.
Kids staying at the hotel also need not use the stairs as they can ride down on a slide – must be nice! :). The adults can try it too…
The opening hours of the kids’ club:
Sunny Bunny Club in the hotel (the entertainment program for children from 2 years old):
8:00 am to 10:30 am
13:00 to 13:45
16:00 to 20:00
The Kids’ Club at the aqua park ‘Sonnentherme’ (the entertainment program for children from 3 years):
11:00 to 13:00 
13:45 to 15:00 
Special program ‘Baby's in Hotel’ (childcare for babies from 3 months-old):
10:00 to 11:30 and 12:30 to 13:30
14:30 to 17:00 and 18:00 to 20:00.
The hotel can provide a babysitter upon request (for a fee). 
Meal plan: full board (in the main restaurant):
Breakfast: 7.00 - 10.00
Lunch: 12.00 - 13.30
Dinner: 17.30 - 20.30
From 13.30 - 17.00 in the pavilion near the Sunny Bunny Waterworld (hotel’s swimming pool) you can have tea/coffee with cakes and pastries.
In the hotel lobby there is a coffee bar (opened 16.00 - 23.30).
For children (and adults) – there is self-service with a standard set of soft drinks (juices, water, etc.) as well as hot drinks (coffee and tea); drinks are included in the price.

The buffet is not large but there is still a great choice, with something to suit everyone’s taste. Even I, with my preference for vegetarian/pescetarian food, could always find something. The buffet is delicious and, as the Austrians say, “klein aber fein” (small but nice).
There is a separate kids’ buffet with plastic plates, and a separate baby food corner.
 I loved the idea of ​​a mobile baby chair in the restaurant - it is on wheels; I have not seen such a thing anywhere else. This is very convenient as you can take your child with you in their chair while you get food from the buffet.
Drinks that you order from the waiter, including alcohol, have to be paid for separately.
In winter in front of the hotel there is a small skating rink, with a tent where you can drink punch to warm up. This really helps create a Christmassy mood. You can rent skates (we were given a voucher for rink-entrance and free skate rental at check-in). In the evening, the ice rink is beautifully illuminated.
According to our friend, the hotel is also very nice in summer. There is an outdoor playground, a sandpit, a small area with rabbits, and outdoor swimming pools with sun beds. You can enjoy swimming and sunbathing, and the outdoor swimming pool has water slides.
There’s an inflatable castle (Sunny Bunny Hüpfburg) for the kids, or they can go for a ride on a small train, or rent a bike.
On the day you arrive you can start enjoying the aqua park and hotel swimming pool from 3pm and on your day of departure you can pay a small fee to be able to stay in the aqua park until 6pm. That’s what we did: we checked out and left things in the storage room, and went to the aqua park.
On the lower floor there is a locker room where you can leave clothes and even take a shower. Very convenient.
You can eat for free in the pavilion near the swimming pool from 13.30 - 17.00, where they serve sweets, tea and coffee. For lunch on the day of departure you have to pay separately. 
The hotel has its own free parking (on the street).
The guests are mostly German-speaking (Austrians, Germans), with some guests from Hungary (the hotel website and signs in the hotel are in German and Hungarian.
The hotel staff, who are mostly Hungarian, speak English and are very very friendly and attentive to the needs of guests.
 I hope that after this review there will be more English-speaking guests :).
I can easily understand why Austrians do not want to travel long distance with kids… Why would you? All you need is nearby - convenient family vacations, excellent entertainment for the kids, and it is safe!
I agree on these things – there’s so much fun to be had without leaving my beloved Austria...
But, still, I am keen on exploring other countries and cultures and I would like my daughter to experience such things... So, until the next trip!

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