Normally I am a frugal traveler, opting for inexpensive but comfortable lodgings near my destination. For our family’s trip to Legoland, however, the adjoining Sheraton Carlsbad offered us a significant discount, so we chose to stay there during our visit. What follows is our true-life experience.
We pulled up to the front door of the Sheraton Carlsbad on a chilly humid evening. Both of the children were jarred from their sleep, and when I came out to the carport after checking I could hear their screams of dissatisfaction from very far away. When I turned around, the staff of the hotel had come to the rescue! They brought out a tiny teddy bear wearing a blue Sheraton robe for each child, calming them down right away. I nearly swooned with gratitude.
That was my introduction to the hotel, which opened this March. The lobby is enormous and easy on the eyes with a business center off to the left upon entrance that is hard to miss. Flower arrangements are made of Legos! The pool area is a family fun zone, with pool noodles and swim diapers at the ready, and plenty of shallow areas for the little ones. On the lawns surrounding, outdoor game equipment is laid out for anyone to enjoy. Bathrooms and showers are close at hand. It’s incredibly inviting and convenient.
Up in the room, the two big comfy beds gave us plenty of space to spread out. Unfortunately, the digital television takes a long time to respond to commands, and with two cranky small children who could not wait one more second to be hypnotized by TV, that was frustrating. Also, there were no surfaces high enough to put forbidden items out of reach of the 2-year-old, so I put those things into the wardrobe, hoping he wouldn’t explore and find them. I tried unsuccessfully to use the in-room safe, and the climate control never quite worked in our room despite our request for an engineer to come up and lower the temperature.
We appreciated the Starbucks coffee with a single cup brewer that was right there for us to use in the morning. Now that it was light, we discovered the balcony which was only wide enough to stand or sit, and just the right height of furniture for our children to try and launch themselves overboard, so we didn’t make use of that.
The main amenity that attracted us to this location was its proximity to Legoland. Indeed, there is a special entrance from the Sheraton grounds into the park at the back end that you can get to by walking, but we took advantage of the courtesy shuttle to bring our family and our friends right to the front entrance of the park. The driver gave us a special card with the number to call to arrange pickup at the end of the day, and off we went for our Legoland adventure.
Traveler beware: on a Friday night in the summertime (hence the height of the season) at closing time, everyone and their mother (literally) is calling to get a ride back to the Sheraton at the same time. We called ahead for the shuttle to come in ten minutes. After several phone calls and 45 minutes of us waiting, trying to decide if we should just walk back instead, Lisa, a concierge at the hotel, grabbed the keys and came and got us herself. By the time we got back to our room we were tired, dirty, cranky, and starving. The children were bouncing off the walls and demanding cookies and candy. The staff took pity on us and sent us dinner at poolside, so at least we were able to relax in the pool and finally get some food.
(Incidentally, the food, while pricey as expected at fancy hotel, was delicious.)
In concept, the courtesy shuttle to Legoland is a perfect idea. Where else would you want to stay if convenience and luxury are your top priorities? (Those, and an awesome pool.) All of it is close to the beach, so not only do you get fancy hotel pool and Legoland, you get some local flavor and oceanside exploration as well. Just be aware that you might have to, well, wait a while, and that it might be worth it just to walk.