We recently celebrated my husband's birthday. I recalled our fun time fishing out on a charter boat with Hubbard's Marina, but while we were out at the beach, we took the opportunity to spend 2 full days and 2 nights at the Holiday Inn and Suites on Clearwater Beach.
We live close enough to the beach that we can easily make it a day trip, but having Irish Triplets means that I have to bring A LOT of gear when we plan a day trip. Being able to stay overnight makes is so much easier on all of us!
I decided to make it feel more like a vacation by picking the kids up early from school! But first I had to go to CrossFit and do my WOD, then come home for a quick shower, take Matthew to the kennel, pack up the cooler, our suitcases, and the truck! Whew! I was a busy mama!
I picked up the trio and they were bouncing out of their skin, they were so EXCITED!! We started our drive over, and gave daddy a quick phone call when we passed by his office. It took us about 90 minutes but soon we were driving over the Causeway to the Beach!! The kids quickly said "oh we've been here before!" Apparently they remembered the ONE time we met a friend at the playground at Clearwater Beach in 2009!
Ronin spotted the sign for the Holiday Inn and we told the parking attendant we were checking in, and he directed us to the front luggage drop off area. We went inside where we were very warmly greeted by front desk personnel. I wish I remembered the gentleman's name that helped us because he truly was a gem. This is when I also learned that at the Holiday Inn KIDS EAT FREE!! And boy did we sure love that! We got our room keys, I unloaded the gear, the gentleman loaded it up on a luggage cart, and I moved my car to guest parking.
We would be staying in a Family Suite. The family suite contained a large bedroom with a king bed and twin bunk beds that connects with a living room area that has a queen sleeper sofa. The children's area had its own TV and vanity area. And...we had 2 full BATHROOMS!! We also had a microwave, refrigerator, coffee maker, hair dryer, iron and ironing board (I don't iron at home, I'm sure as heck not going to iron on a staycation!!)
When I opened the door and went inside we were greeted by a lovely note and swag
We had 3 beautiful towels monogrammed with Clearwater Beach, 2 Jimmy's Fish House t-shirts (Jimmy's is the on-site restaurant), and the kids each got a bag of tokens for the arcade! There was also a bunch of sand toys, and a gift certificate for the restaurant.
The kids immediately wanted to head down to the pool and I was happy to oblige, but first we had to unpack, and I had to call James to let him know our room number. That seemed to take forever with 3 kids that were more than excited to get to the pool!
Finally we began our descent from the top floor down to the pool area. On our way we stopped by Hollie the Dolphin. There are dolphins like this all over Clearwater and they even have their own Facebook page.
We were playing around having a good old time when James called that he had arrived!! He met us at the pool, and together we went up to our room. He was hungry (and so was I!!) so we decided that it was a good time for us to change and head down for dinner.
We decided to take advantage of the kids eat free deal, so we went to Jimmy's Fish House. As it turns out, when kids eat free they don't have to order off the kids menu. That worked out pretty well because my gang loves good healthy food and they were turning their noses up at the mac and cheese and chicken tenders that were on the kids menu.
We all split 3 orders of calamari. One was the Firecracker Calamari which was flash fried with hot and sweet peppers sauteed with kalamata olives. It was SO GOOD!!!
My main course was Seared Ahi Tuna Salad and it was out of this world!
We ate dinner and just hung out around the restaurant, watching the boats come in and out of the pass. The trio loved it when a pirate ship came through right at sunset!
After the sun set we were pretty tired, so we headed back to our room and called it a night. It was nice for the kids to be able to go to bed while James and I could hang out in the living room and watch TV while we continued to unwind from a long work week.
We woke up on Saturday morning, showered and again went down to Jimmy's for breakfast. They offered an all-you-can-eat buffet. They had cereal, bagels, eggs, bacon, sausage, pancakes, french toast, muffins and a beautiful fruit salad. With their kids eat free deal, the 5 of us got to eat breakfast for $18!! That's a deal!!
We had scheduled our fishing trip to Hubbard's Marina for later in the morning, so we only had a few hours before we had to leave. We thought it might be nice to head to the beach. We walked out the back by the pool and realized we couldn't find the beach. I had to ask someone how to get to the beach and that's when I learned that while the Holiday Inn is Gulf front, it is not beach front. We had to walk 3 blocks down the road to get to the public access beach. Under normal circumstances this would not be a big deal, but with the trio, suddenly it was. We decided to check it out anyway. James and Ronin popped in the Gulf for a quick foot wash.
The kids really wanted to stay for a little while, but James and I were not prepared. We had no cooler. We had no beach chairs, no umbrella. And those 3 blocks might as well have been 3 miles when you have 3 kids and those 3 kids require a lot of gear. The adults didn't last long, so we promised the kids we'd head back and spend our time at the hotel pool. They agreed. It was around this time that Ella started complaining of a rash on her leg. A very bad rash that was only on one leg and it was itching her horribly. James took Haley and Ronin back to the room and Ella and I walked to the local Walgreens to buy some benadryl and anti-itch cream (long story short...we find out she had shingles!!)
We came back, spent some time at the pool, and then left for Hubbard's Marina.
We were gone all day and when we got back to the hotel it was nearly 9pm. We were all tired, and smelling of fish. Thankfully with the 2 full bathrooms we were able to all get showered and cleaned up without incident. And we all crashed.
Sunday morning we hit the buffet for breakfast and then went back to the pool. It was at this time that Ella (who was also still itching quite badly but not complaining) discovered something that looked like a little beach behind the Duval Ballroom which is part of the Holiday Inn property. James was napping in a lounge chair so I decided to take the trio over and see what we could see! Sure enough there was a small beach and we were able to get right in to the water and we did some exploring in the water!!
We found all kinds of shells, saw a big blue crab, and schools of pipe fish! Somone on a jet ski also hollered that there was a manatee out further in the channel, but it was too deep for us and I didn't want to take any chances being out too far.
We continued to wade along the seawall when we came across the back of our hotel. We had noticed this shark from the pool area, but from the water we could see that it said Jimmy's. And James' nickname is Jimmy so we thought it would be a perfect chance for a photo opportunity!
I love this photo of my Irish Triplets. They are happy, they are laughing, they are smiling, they are full of joy.
And before we knew it, it was time to check out and head back to our part of town. James left before us so he could go to the grocery store and make sure that we arrived home to a nice meal. I packed and took all our luggage down and began the check out process.
Check-out was interesting. I noticed on our bill that we were charged for one movie and 2 hours of video games?? Say what!!?? We didn't watch any movies or play any video games! I asked the kids, and they assured me that they did not watch any movies (remember they had a TV in their room, but they were never alone for that length of time where they could watch a movie) but Haley did confess that she played 10 MINUTES of 2 different video games while I was in the shower on Saturday morning. I disputed the charges. I don't think kids should be allowed easy access to a feature that requires payment. There should be some sort of prompting for a code or SOMETHING! And since she played 2 games, that's why I was charged for 2 hours. Each games allows for one hour of play. The total for the movie and the video games was over $40! Thankfully the front desk staff removed those charges and Haley got a nice talking to from me, but she swears that the screen did not indicate that there was any charge for the games!
Pros: Beautiful pool, big comfortable room, fridge, microwave, 2 bathooms kids eat free, friendly attentive staff.
Cons: Long walk to the beach when you have a large family that requires a lot of "stuff." Our balcony view overlooked the roof of Shepherd's Hotel and Bar. It would have been nice to have a waterfront view. If I leaned over the railing I could see the Intracoastal, but I didn't want to give my trio any ideas! And of course, the ability for kids to order video games without any security measures put in place. I still sit here shaking my head that had I taken a longer shower, she could have done some serious damage. And I'm still not sure about the movie. Wouldn't surprise me if she clicked on a button by accident and got charged for a movie.
Overall we had a fantastic stay at the Holiday Inn and Suites on Clearwater Beach, and would certainly return!