Need a quick way to get away…like now? Take an instant vacation from quarantine life with SummerFest at the Gaylord Texan.
Thank you to the Gaylord Texan for inviting our family to enjoy a stay at the Gaylord Texan.
Summer is supposed to be full of water, sun and lots of fun. While 2020 hasn’t been the ideal pocketful of sunshine, our family was able to follow the rainbow to the Gaylord Texan to remember what summer is supposed to be. Each year the Gaylord Texan celebrates the season with SummerFest, the ultimate summer getaway featuring events and activities for the whole family to enjoy throughout the resort! And with its outdoor 10-acre outdoor waterpark, Paradise Springs, featuring slides, zip line, poolside bar and lazy river, it’s always a part of our summer fun.
BEFORE OUR STAY
Of course, this year things have been different…and after three months being social distanced and quarantined to our home, I NEEDED a break.
Well we all needed a break.
I needed to hear laughing, splashing and something cold to drink next to the water PDQ. However, for us travel wasn’t in the plans and we were apprehensive about how being at a hotel with COVID-19 guidelines could be possible and still be fun. But after reading about the Marriott’s “Commitment to Clean” practices put in place with the Vanderbilt University Medical Center, including enhanced cleaning technologies, hospital-grade disinfectants, dedicated sanitizing agents and cleaning processes throughout the resort, I was prepared (masks and antibacterial packed) to stay with one caveat: be ready to leave at anytime if we didn’t feel comfortable.
Paradise Springs is only available for hotel guests of the Gaylord Texan so you can’t purchase day passes.
Before our stay I also received an email with details from the hotel about what to expect and how to navigate the experience in the best way possible including a reminder to wear our masks, how to increase a social distancing with private seating options like cabanas, lounge chairs, etc. Additionally several options for contactless technology was put into place including using:
- Mobile Check-In – Avoid the front desk and receive a Mobile Key delivered to your phone allowing you to skip the desk (yes opening your door with your phone!)
- Chat with Us – For any needs before or during your stay use the Chat icon to connect directly with the hotel.
- Mobile Requests – For those standard needs use the mobile requests to have items delivered directly to your room with contactless delivery if desired.
Honestly, they had thought of more things that I hadn’t even thought of, it made me feel even more comfortable before we even left.
DURING OUR STAY
When we arrived at the Gaylord Texan, we were primed and ready to make the most of our 24-staycation! Since we were staying on a Thursday – Friday, there were limited activities available during the week compared to the weekend experience. (A full list of activities and a map of the property can be found at WelcometoGaylordTexan.com.)
From the moment we were on property we were met with amazing customer service (even with everyone wearing masks on you could “feel’ the genuine hospitality.) Using our app we checked in, opened our door and dropped our bags to head to the waterpark…but not before we saw all the evidence that the room had been cleaned, a special bag of antibacterial for our stay, and a QR code to make it easy for us to keep us updated on the schedule of activities and dining options.
After we received our water park passes we rode the shuttle to the waterpark (required for all guests without private reservations at Paradise Springs) and off to swim! The shuttles come often, so we learned that if they were fuller than we wanted to ride you can elect to wait for another shuttle or there’s always walking (although it’s a bit of a climb with little ones.)
That’s when vacation really started.
Once I was escorted to my chair (it was just me sitting down or I would’ve gotten that cabana), a masked pool side team members was there to get me a cold drink (bring on the white sangria) and solve any other issues I might have. And then the kids hit the water HARD! They played all day long and I did, too. For the first time in a LONG time I was able to take a deep breath and enjoy myself. There was a moment when we all three of us were riding the lazy river (where each tube was cleaned each time you exited the water), when we all just looked around and say “THANK YOU.” It was a moment I’ll remember for a long time because none of us were taking advantage of the opportunity!
You are asked to wear a mask into Paradise Springs and then as we walked around, but it is not required in the water or while drinking/eating.
While dragging the kids out of the waterpark was almost impossible, they also didn’t want to miss the fun like Trivia, Painting on Canvas, and the resort-wide scavenger hunt! I was able to sneak in sunrise yoga next to the pool in the morning and surprise the kids with room service with pancakes (all delivered to the room with disposable dining ware.)
TIPS FOR STAYING AT THE GAYLORD TEXAN
- Visit during the week if you want optimal social distancing, however, if you’re looking for the most activities/ amenities available opt for the weekend.
- You’ll find antibacterial in your room so it’s not necessary to load up your luggage with cleaning products. Just remember to bring your mask!
- To minimize attendance and give everyone an opportunity to enjoy Paradise Springs, on the weekend you must pick AM or PM to visit. However, there is another resort pool to enjoy on property and a huge lake nearby to swim.
- Get the reservations for the chair / cabana. I was able both days to nab a spot with no advance, but if you have a bigger family or want to optimize your distancing, this is the way.
- You cannot bring outside open drinks to Paradise Springs so don’t BYOB. There are plenty of great options available for food and drinks while at Paradise Springs (so if you’re bringing water for the baby bottle just keep it closed until you get there.)
- Know your activities and schedule accordingly. For instance, since some of the activities, retail stories and restaurants are only on the weekend, you’ll want to make sure you don’t think you’ll be slurping noodles at Zeppole on a Tuesday night.
- Look for specials! Recently the Gaylord Texan hosted a $139 rate (which is almost unheard of), so keep watch for great deals!
I’m so glad we went to the Gaylord Texan! The change of scenery was just what we needed. When my daughter woke up in the middle of the night and asked if we could open the doors, we stepped unto the balcony that opened into the atrium and looked out to hear the water running and look out over “Texas,” she said “mama, it’s so peaceful…isn’t it wonderful?”
NOTE: This was an account of our experience. While we felt safe and reasonable accommodations for the activities we participated / experienced, please make your own decisions for what is best for your family.