Disclosure: This post contains my personal opinions for my family.
We recently had the opportunity to visit the Gaylord Texan for the 17th annual SummerFest! If you follow regularly, you know that we love this iconic Texas resort that is located just minutes from Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. This year was spectacular as usual, but with some changes due to COVID-19. Spoiler alert - We had a fun vacation and created memories together as a family. We felt safe and relaxed because they have many new protocols in place and an extensive amount of staff who are very visible to continuously sanitize the resort!
Let's start this vacation post by discussing the COVID-19 issue since I know that this is a tough topic right now. Personally, we have been at home throughout the quarantine and this was our first getaway. My husband and I were conflicted about going on a vacation. On one hand, we've been at home for 24/7 with our children for months and really needed a vacation. On the other hand, we worried about whether it was safe to go on a quick vacation. We visited different resort websites and found that the Gaylord Texan has an extensive plan to keep the resort clean. After reading through the many measures that they are taking, we were excited and knew that it was the perfect vacation destination for our family. For instance, here is a snippet from their website:
To help ensure proper social distancing, each of the resort’s events, restaurants, and pools now offer spaced seating arrangements. And in accordance with Marriott’s “Commitment to Clean” practices, we are providing enhanced cleaning technologies, hospital-grade disinfectants, attendants dedicated to sanitizing frequently throughout the day, and hundreds of new cleaning processes to take care of guests while they enjoy the resort’s amenities.
Additionally, Gaylord Texan’s ownership group, Ryman Hospitality Properties, Inc. (NYSE:RHP) selected Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC), a leader in medical research, as its official wellness advisor. These combined efforts further support Gaylord Texan’s multi-phased health and sanitation plans, procedures, and staff training.
Throughout our stay, we witnessed their dedication to cleanliness. Hardly a minute went by when we didn't see energetic cleaning crew members meticulously cleaning. They even cleaned the railings and other surfaces in the water park! We also noticed that all of their employees, not just the cleaning team members, were trained to make efforts for our comfort and safety. For instance, we rode the shuttle twice. Both times, the shuttle driver allowed everyone to exit and then we saw him clean before letting more passengers on.
They also encouraged visitors to wear masks and to stay 6' away. Everyone that we saw was very respectful. We felt comfortable and enjoyed our stay. I know that vacationing is a personal decision that each of us has to make based on our personal circumstances, but for us, we made the right choice to visit. It was a much needed vacation at a time when we needed it the most!
We stayed in a beautiful room with an atrium view room that overlooks lush indoor gardens and waterfalls. It was nice to sit on the balcony to look at the atrium.
On our second day, my husband woke up before the rest of us because he wanted to enjoy the view from our room. He went downstairs to buy breakfast and then sat on the balcony for a while before the rest of us woke up.
My children were thrilled to visit the Gaylord Texan's Paradise Springs waterpark. This iconic Texas-themed waterpark is a big part of their happy childhood memories. Hotel guests can make a splash at Paradise Springs, the resort's 10-acre outdoor waterpark. Adults can grab a cocktail and tube down the relaxing 600-foot long lazy river while kids play in a giant water treehouse, four winding waterslides, and a 6,000-square-foot family lagoon.
My children especially love the giant Texas-themed bucket of water that spills on everyone!
You'll also enjoy plenty of lunch and snack options at the pool. The photo below shows a kids meal and ice cream sandwich. My sons appreciated that the kids meals included rubber duckies!
Once our food was brought to us, they marked our table as, "Waiting for sanitization." I really liked the proactive approach to marking our table so that no one else would accidentally sit at it if we suddenly got up and left. I also loved that Paradise Springs was buzzing with cleaning staff members. They were so energetic and thorough, taking multiple passes on everything within sight!
The SummerFest Activities were another highlight of our trip.
The activities vary slightly by day of the week, but the list includes:
- Hank's Outlaw Scavenger Hunt
- Sunrise Yoga
- Canvas Painting
- Interactive Trivia
- Family Movie Time
- Animal Encounters
- Duck Races
- Paradise Springs (water park)
All of the activities were fun! I love that their activities are family friendly and include a variety of high energy activities, as well as, calmer and more relaxing activities. My children used up their energy at Paradise Springs and on Hank's Outlaw Scavenger Hunt! I won't share a photo of the scavenger hunt booklet, but I will show you a sample clue in the photo below so that you have an idea about how it works. The booklet contains clues. You visit the respective locations to find letters to spell out a surprise that solves the mystery.
The Canvas painting was very peaceful. Everyone was spaced far from each other along the Riverwalk Cantina. We felt like we were in another world as we painted next to the stream.
For the Canvas Painting activity, they provide canvases that are either blank or with a SummerFest logo or butterfly. Personally, I used a blank canvas to create a painting for my husband's office. My children painted canvases to hang in their bedrooms.
We also had fun at Trivia and Bingo sessions. Again, everyone was spaced far apart and we were able to have fun. I liked that the trivia questions were family friendly. Of course, the bingo games also provide fun for all ages!
In addition to the activities that I mentioned above, they also offer Sunrise Yoga, Movie Times, Animal Encounters, and Duck Races. The Gaylord Texan has something for everyone!
In addition to activities, the Gaylord Texan is also well known for their delicious dining options. We enjoyed dinner at Texas Station. My husband and I split a variety of Texas BBQ foods, including pulled pork, chicken, and sausage. We also shared roasted Brussels sprouts and macaroni and cheese.
My children loved the kids meals. For instance, my youngest son had a child-friendly meal with chicken fingers, fresh fruit, and milk. My other son enjoyed a hot dog and Doritos with milk.
I hope that you enjoyed this glimpse into our family's summer vacation at the Gaylord Texan. I know that COVID-19 is a sensitive topic right now and that every family has to make a decision that is best for them. Personally, our family made the right decision to visit the Gaylord Texan because this luxurious resort put many protocols in place for our safety and comfort. The vacation helped us to recharge after months of being at home for 24/7.
If you want to learn more about the Gaylord Texan, visit their website here for the latest information, schedules, and updates.