A Sunday BBQ

weißes kleid mit v ausschnitt Sunday marked the annual BBQ with Gabriel and Gita, and this year, it seemed that there was a bumper crop of babies. There must have been 20 little ones at the party, with all of the noise and chaos that comes along with them. Little Juliette didn’t know what to make of everything.

"Pleased to meet you!"

“Pleased to meet you!”

Very exciting!

Very exciting!

The 'parking lot' in front of the cabin

The ‘parking lot’ in front of the cabin

The gorgeous Arabella, with her Dad.

The gorgeous Arabella, with her Dad.

Did you have fun?

The most important question about the vacation… Did you have FUN?!?

"Hey!  Stop taking pictures of the hotel and take a picture of ME!"

“Hey! Stop taking pictures of the hotel and take a picture of ME!”

"Hanging out" with Mom!

“Hanging out” with Mom!

Ready for our morning walk!

Ready for our morning walk!

Just chillin' with her dragonfly

Just chillin’ with her dragonfly

All smiles!

All smiles!

Playing on her mat

Playing on her mat

"Good morning, Dad!"

“Good morning, Dad!”

Relaxing in the afternoon

Relaxing in the afternoon

Hanging out at the Baby Club

Hanging out at the Baby Club

Sleeping like a...

Sleeping like a…

Check me out.

Check me out.

"I'm telling ya...  best vacation ever!"

“I’m telling ya… best vacation ever!”

Was ist ein Kinderhotel?

As promised, Dad took lots of photos of the Kinderhotel Alpenrose in Lermoos. We had a really great time there, loved the concept, and would definitely go back.

Over dinner one night, we talked about why the concept wasn’t more widespread. In the US, the liability of looking after someone else’s children is just too high. Children would need to be microchipped and reams of paperwork would need to be filled out. In Austria, you simply hand over your child and trust that the staff will do their best. The hotel is small enough that they remember which baby belongs to whom, and there’s no paperwork to fill out.

Cost is another reason. There is clearly attention-to-detail and quality built into every part of the vacation, but this comes at a price. But there are no surprises — you pay your nightly rate based on the number of adults and children, and everything else is included (except booze). If you want to borrow a stroller, umbrella, bottle warmer, baby bed, use the sauna, jacuzzi, kids club, baby club, whatever, it’s all included in the price.

The other interesting thing is the clientele. Aside from the odd group of 7-year-old boys running through the lobby, the hotel was a pretty calm place. The types of families that choose a hotel like this are obviously the types of families where the kids play an important role. The types of families that generally bring their kids up to be well-behaved. The hotel wasn’t some sort of kiddie-land where the kids could go on a rampage. It was a nice hotel where they had to be on good behavior.

The other thing I noticed was the food. I believe there’s a strong correlation between the food that kids eat and how they behave. No pre-processed chicken nuggets or fish fingers here. Every meal on the kids’ buffet featured real, freshly-prepared food. Soups, meats, vegetables, fresh fruits. Salami and cheese cubes for the afternoon snack. With the exception of dinner, when many parents chose to let their kids eat early and head to bed before the parents ate, families sat down at mealtime and ate together (without video games, TV, iPads or anything more exciting than a coloring book and pencils to entertain the kids).

Enough about the hotel. Onto the pictures!

The kinderhotel from the front.  Our room was at the top of the hotel, under the roof.  Views of the Tyrolean mountains and... Piratenland!

The kinderhotel from the front. Our room was at the top of the hotel, under the roof. Views of the Tyrolean mountains and… Piratenland!

Kinderhotels.

Kinderhotels.

Outside the Hotel Alpenrose

Outside the Hotel Alpenrose

Overlooking the center of the hotel, with the heated indoor-outdoor pool and jacuzzi.

Overlooking the center of the hotel, with the heated indoor-outdoor pool and jacuzzi.

Looking out over the pool.

Looking out over the pool.

Just like a normal hotel corridor, except this one was filled with buggies!

Just like a normal hotel corridor, except this one was filled with buggies!

Main reception at the hotel feels very boutique-like and not-at-all kiddie.  Notice the obligatory receptionist dressed like Heidi.

Main reception at the hotel feels very boutique-like and not-at-all kiddie. Notice the obligatory receptionist dressed like Heidi.

An aquarium and lounging chairs in the lobby

An aquarium and lounging chairs in the lobby

Main corridor with a fountain that captured Juliette's imagination.

Main corridor with a fountain that captured Juliette’s imagination.

Rocking sheep.

Rocking sheep.

Non-rocking sheep.

Non-rocking sheep.

Our table in the corner of the restaurant.

Our table in the corner of the restaurant.

Breakfast and lunch were casual, but dinner was a serious affair each day with six courses.

Breakfast and lunch were casual, but dinner was a serious affair each day with six courses.

Every table was dedicated to one family for the duration of their stay, enabling the staff to set up the table with age-appropriate seats and cutlery.  Appropriately, we're listed as 2 1/2 guests.

Every table was dedicated to one family for the duration of their stay, enabling the staff to set up the table with age-appropriate seats and cutlery. Appropriately, we’re listed as 2 1/2 guests.

Wine was a big deal at the hotel.  They've got an extensive wine list and two sommeliers on staff.

Wine was a big deal at the hotel. They’ve got an extensive wine list and two sommeliers on staff.

The door to Piratenland.  Aaarrgh.

The door to Piratenland. Aaarrgh.

Juliette chilling out in the Baby Club.  She actually seemed to really like spending time in the Baby Club -- there were plenty of staff members to fuss over her, and lots of new things to play with.

Juliette chilling out in the Baby Club. She actually seemed to really like spending time in the Baby Club — there were plenty of staff members to fuss over her, and lots of new things to play with.

The lounge in our suite.  We could stay up and watch TV without disturbing the baby.

The lounge in our suite. We could stay up and watch TV without disturbing the baby.

Mom & Dad's bedroom.

Mom & Dad’s bedroom.

Mom and Dad got to enjoy an oversized Jacuzzi.  Juliette had her own baby bath.  No more suffering the indignity of having to bathe in the bidet!

Mom and Dad got to enjoy an oversized Jacuzzi. Juliette had her own baby bath. No more suffering the indignity of having to bathe in the bidet!

Thoughtful details around the hotel, like a second sink placed at child height and a stepping stool to help the little-ones reach.

Thoughtful details around the hotel, like a second sink placed at child height and a stepping stool to help the little-ones reach.

The view from the lounge - Tyrolean mountains

The view from the lounge – Tyrolean mountains

The view from our bedroom -- Piratenland!

The view from our bedroom — Piratenland!

Five months old!

We are safely back home from our trip to Lermoos, after a long drive in some very unseasonable weather. But more about that later. While we were away, Juliette passed an important milestone — she’s five months old!

She’s come along since her last birthday. Compared to some of her ‘peers’, we noticed at the Kinderhotel that she’s still a lot taller than most other babies her age. She isn’t gaining a lot of weight, although we expect her to gain a little more as we introduce formula over the next few weeks, then her first solid foods shortly afterwards.

She’s learned to take the bottle (and now that she’s learned that she can get her whole meal in five minutes instead of working for 20 minutes the old-fashioned way, she seems to prefer the bottle). The most amazing thing, to Dad at least, is watching her take her midnight feed. Stick the bottle in her mouth, and she’ll drain it without waking up. It’s really something to watch.

We suspect her teeth aren’t far off, now, as she’s become a regular drool-machine (very attractive!) and she’s chewing constantly on anything within reach, mostly her fists. Her favorite toys are still her book and her dragonfly, although these tend to go in the mouth as often as anywhere else.

Juliette is becoming more alert every day, and taking in everything she sees. Recently, we’ve been putting her into the Baby Bjorn facing outwards and she loves it. So does Dad — he never gets so much attention as when he’s got a baby strapped to his chest!

Five months old!  Another milestone reached...

Five months old! Another milestone reached…

Staying at a Kinderhotel

Pictures will have to wait, because Dad’s technology options while on the road are limited. But our first stay at a kinderhotel is going very well, and it’s amazing to us that this concept isn’t more widespread.

First, it’s important to say what a kinderhotel isn’t. It’s not Disneyland, Butlins, Centre Parcs, or any of the other kid-themed resorts. The hotel thoughtfully integrates kids into everything it does, but the focus of the hotel is very much on giving the parents a vacation they can enjoy as well.

Walking into the hotel, you would be forgiven for thinking you are in a normal boutique hotel — granite reception, slate floors, sleek Italian couches, low lighting and modern art on the wall. Our suite is lovely, with a big jacuzzi for Mom & Dad.

But the kids are integrated into everything here. In the swish limestone bathroom, there’s a second sink helpfully placed about 30cm lower to allow the kids to wash. In addition to the parent’s bedroom, there’s a kid’s bedroom with a big box of Duplo for the kids to play with. There’s a changing table, baby bath, and next to the luxury toiletries for Mom & Dad, there’s a box of baby wipes, diaper cream, and baby shampoo. There are even baby-sized towels and bathrobes.

I couldn’t understand why they assigned tables at mealtime, but it became apparent when we arrived for dinner each night. They know how old each child is, and the table is set accordingly. So Juliette arrived to find a sling chair and a bib, ready for a bottle feed. Toddlers find high-chairs at their table, and older kids find age-appropriate place settings as well.

There’s a creche to take the baby any time you want during the day, babysitters at night, and distinctly grown-up menus at dinner. I described it as ‘Butlins with a wine list’ on my Facebook page — and that’s what it is. There’s a dedicted sommelier and a 120+ page wine list.

There’s a full spa offering treatments for parents, as well as mini-manicures and chocolate massages for the little ones. Overall, kids have been catered for and thought of, but for all that, this place doesn’t seem like it’s designed for the kids. It’s really a place for the parents, where they know that they can relax without having to worry about the kids.

So far, so good. It’s a great concept that I’m really surprised hasn’t caught on more widely. We’ll definitely be back.

A sunny Saturday

After one of the rainiest springs anyone can remember, our biggest fear these days is that our daughter will develop rickets. So when the sun peaks out from behind the clouds, we don’t miss our opportunity. Saturday was absolutely gorgeous — pleasantly warm, bright sunshine, no breeze — so we decided to go for a nice long walk in the woods behind the house.

We even took the chance to have a coffee at the cafe in the center of town, to try to enjoy the last bits of nice weather. It was all a little too much for our nipper, and she ended up having a melt-down in the middle of the cafe. Poor thing.

Mom enjoying a beautiful summer day

Mom enjoying a beautiful summer day

Juliette in her stroller, enjoying the summer sunshine

Juliette in her stroller, enjoying the summer sunshine

Dad and Juliette hanging out at the cafe

Dad and Juliette hanging out at the cafe

"Hey, Dad...  Can we talk?"

“Hey, Dad… Can we talk?”

Mom and Juliette, watching the world go by

Mom and Juliette, watching the world go by

Tired baby

Tired baby

A little time-out as Juliette begins to melt down after a long day

A little time-out as Juliette begins to melt down after a long day

I love Daddy!

Look who’s got her favorite ‘I Love Daddy’ shirt on!

We’re enjoying some beautiful weather this weekend, a nice change from the months and months of cold, grey, wet weather that have characterized the start of 2013. We’re crossing our fingers that the weather stays nice for the next week or so, as we’re off on vacation in the Tyrol and it would be a shame to spend the whole vacation indoors.

I love Daddy!

I love Daddy!

First Mother’s Day

It’s a pretty special Sunday — our first proper Mother’s Day! Ours was a low-key celebration. A few flowers picked from a field nearby, a nice stroll through the woods behind our house, and plenty of Skyping with the grandparents. The perfect Sunday.

Our little package arrived at Christmas.  Now we celebrate our first Mother's Day.

Our little package arrived at Christmas. Now we celebrate our first Mother’s Day.