Disclaimer :: The Omni generously provided one of our contributors with an overnight stay at the Aquatica Suite. All opinions and thoughts are her own.
My husband, children and I recently spent a night in the Aquatica Suite at the Omni Hotel at the Colonnade. We live in Oak Hills, and the hotel’s location at I-10 and Wurzbach made the travel portion of our staycation easier than a trip to HEB.
Elaine, the Concierge called me a week or so ahead of time to confirm the arrangements for our visit and to ask about any special needs. At my request, she booked me a massage appointment at the on-site day spa and gave me a heads up that a welcome snack would be provided for my children.
We rolled in right at the 3 p.m. check-in time, and Elaine personally escorted us to the suite to show us the amenities. In good kid-friendly form, she let the under-five set enter the suite first. As the door swung open, I remarked to my husband that I wished we’d gone in ahead of them solely to see the looks on their faces when they entered the space. The suite was inspired by SeaWorld’s Aquatica waterpark and is designed to “capture the essence of what it would be like to live under the sea.”
When we entered, the overhead lights were off, and the curtains were closed, so the space was illuminated by blue neon tubes overhead, three columns filled with bubbling water lit by colored lights, and the glow from a saltwater aquarium. The aquarium traverses the wall between the main part of the suite and the bathroom and is visible in both spaces.
One entire wall of the suite contains a floor-to-ceiling three-dimensional coral sculpture with two embedded flat-screen monitors: one for watching T.V. or DVDs, and the other for playing video games on the in-suite Wii U Game Pad and Play Station 4. The attached shelves are stocked with a selection of family-friendly movies and games.
I’ll give you one guess as to who made first (and most) use of the video game system (picture related).
As promised, we were greeted with a basket of kid-friendly snacks (think Goldfish crackers and Teddy Grahams), bottled juices, and a personalized welcome message. Little hands found their way into the basket before I could snap a picture. Also waiting was a more adult tray featuring cheese, charcuterie, and fresh fruit.
[hr]The suite includes an adjoining bedroom, sitting area, and bathroom for parents, decorated in a more traditional style.
[hr]All that was missing was an intern who would cheerfully fetch me a Campari.
The kids’ area connects to the parents’ area through a door decorated as a porthole.
My massage was scheduled for 4 p.m., so obviously, I had to go. My husband got the kids into their swimsuits and took them down to enjoy the hotel’s indoor and outdoor pools. This was the little guys’ first time to see an indoor pool: Minds. Blown.
The on-site spa is run by a third-party operator. It didn’t have all the luxury trappings I usually associate with hotel spas, but the service was excellent. And, my 65 minute massage was only $90, so the value was good.[hr]
Ladies, I could not have timed it better: I made it back to the suite *right after* Ryan had finished bathing the kids in the Aquatica-themed kids’ bathroom.
My post-treatment glow was spared the indignity of getting splashed with bath water and having to wrestle my little orcas-in-training.
Because I am a Generous and Understanding Spouse (and because Ryan and I live and die by tag-team parenting), I released him to the hotel bar to get a break.[hr]
Having burned off some energy, Claudia and Thomas were ready to take the in-suite amenities through their paces. They got a kick out of the “bubble chair,” stingray beanbag chairs, and cubbies and shelves full books, stuffed animals, and games.
The suite is connected to its SeaWorld inspiration in part by a giant wall map of Aquatica (shown above) and a reproduction of the waterpark’s height check.
If a trip to the park had been on our agenda, I would have used these features to build my kids’ excitement. Because it wasn’t in the cards, I did my best to deflect their attention elsewhere and dodge the four-year old’s pointed questions.
The suite’s biggest selling point, however, was the pair of Murphy beds that fold down from the wall. The better to maximize your play space, my dear. I love nothing more than to teach my kids random pop cultural history, so I took no shortage of pleasure from my two-year old making repeated reference to the subject of two early-twentieth century patents.
When Ryan returned from his break, we ordered room service and spent the evening playing video games and watching Lilo & Stich with the shorties. For all his talk about “Murphybed,” Thomas was oddly reluctant to get into his and Go. To. Sleep. [hr]
The Aquatica Suite includes A.M. delivery of coffee or other beverage, which was most appreciated. Morning comes real early after a long night of schooling a four-year old on Wii. A stay also includes daily breakfast for the entire family at the hotel’s restaurant.[hr]
We truly enjoyed our stay in the Aquatica Suite. The space itself is fun, and the service was outstanding. It’s clear the Omni staff is excited about the new suite. Their enthusiasm is contagious and makes for exceptional service. I wholeheartedly recommend the Aquatica Suite to out-of-town guests and staycationers, and I have some thoughts about how to make the most of a visit.
First, our four-year old was riiiiight at the cusp of being able to take advantage of the suite. While our two-year old had fun, he was mostly along for the ride. If your children are younger than four or five, I would put your visit off for a year or two. By the same token, the suite’s charms may be lost on older adolescents. If you have a eleven- or twelve-year old, I would bring him or her sooner rather than later.
The Aquatica Suite is a natural fit for out-of-towners coming to San Antonio for SeaWorld. It’s not the accommodation located closest to the park, and it’s not your value-priced option, but it provides an incomparable way to turn your park visit into a wrap-around experience.
In talking about it, my husband and I may have stumbled on a less-obvious (but ideal) demographic for whom the suite would be perfect: families coming to San Antonio for a child’s sporting event or other tournament. After a long day of competition, a family does not necessarily want to tear up the town. The suite provides ample entertainment for the afternoon and evening, and has enough sense of place and “wow” factor to make the trip special for the entire family.
If you are looking for a last-minute staycation to put the exclamation point on the end of your family’s summer, or if you need to goose that trip to San Antonio you are planning, look into the Omni Colonnade’s Aquatica Suite.[hr]