When a hotel or resort room category says it is a "family room" or "family suite" it basically means that room allows children to sleep there with their parents. Beyond that, there are probably as many different meanings to the word "family room" as there are hotels in the world.
Resort and hotel room category descriptions and inclusions are one of the most confusing parts of booking a family vacation. It's also one of the most important because it affects everyone's comfort, sleep quality, enjoyment and let's be real here - sanity.
If it's any consolation, it drives us travel agents crazy too. Stepping into your hotel room should be a "wow" moment and never a disappointment.
Basically, every hotel has their own definition of what you get when you book a "family room". This same definition can even vary between sister properties of the same hotel chain.
So if we start with the premise that kids are allowed to sleep in these rooms and that there is not standard industry definition, let's expand this idea and look what this terminology can really mean....
Many hotels and resorts have specific "adult only" sections and offer separate rooms, pools and areas for families. The rooms themselves may be identical but the term "family room" simply designates the location of your room. Family room locations might also mean added conveniences for parents. For example, these might be ground floor rooms or rooms closer to play areas.
Some hotels may specifically designate rooms with two double or two queen size beds as a family room because these rooms will sleep up to four people. Other hotels may describe a family room as one that offers a king bed for parents and bunk beds or a sleeper sofa for the children.
Amenities, Features & Services
A Family Room or Suite may come with additional features. The list here can be long and varied. It could mean anything from Free Breakfast, complimentary baby gear, child size bathrooms to complimentary chocolate chip cookies at bedtime. Some resorts offer family concierge service and even private nannies. It may designate a floor plan or room lay out difference like an extra or split bathroom so that more people can get ready at the same time. Perhaps your room is equipped with a refrigerator and microwave? The only way to know for sure is to examine the fine print details of every room and hope for the best (keep reading and you'll understand what I mean).
Families tend to require a bit more space then say two adults sharing a hotel room. Sometimes the words "family" and or "suite" are simply used as a euphemism to describe guest rooms that come with some extra square footage.
Every hotel has rules regarding how many people can stay in each room. Generally speaking, most hotel rooms will allow 2 adults and 2 children to share a hotel room. Bear in mind the definition of the word "child" will vary too. The rule might state "children under the age of 12" or "kids under 17 stay free".
These occupancy rules often reflect local safety and insurance regulations. Some hotels and resorts may offer certain rooms that will sleep more than four guests. Sometimes the words "family room" or "family suite" can define rooms that will sleep parents with 3 or 4 children under a specific age.
Family suites give the impression of larger accommodations. Many will come with descriptions like "master offers a king size bed for parents"...but is there actually a separate sleeping area? A door that can be closed for privacy or is it a half wall with a step down to the seating area with a sleeper sofa for the kids?
Guaranteed Connecting Rooms
Adjoining rooms are located next door to one another.
Connecting rooms have a door connecting two different guest rooms.
Everybody mixes up these definitions and uses these terms interchangeably. Families who want extra privacy, space or even bathroom will often ask to book two hotel rooms. The problem here that most hotels consider connecting rooms "A request and never a guarantee".
1. Architecturally there may only be a handful of guest rooms built with a connecting door.
2. It all depends there are any available connecting rooms when you show up at check in.
Sometimes the term "Family room/Suite" can actually mean guaranteed connecting rooms. Often this means parents will have a king bed room/bath that is connected by a door to a room for the kids with 2 double beds/bath. These family rooms come with a higher price tag because in this situation, you're "technically" booking two hotel rooms instead of just one.
But Wait...There's More...
Some large family resorts can have over 2 dozen different room categories, each with lots of adjectives in their descriptions without a lot of details. To make matters worse, hotels sell their rooms through multiple channels - brochures, online, travel agents. Room details can vary depending on who's publishing the information.
If all that wasn't enough, many of the most popular family hotels and all inclusive resorts are found in foreign countries with marketing teams that speak different languages.
This is why dedicated travel agents personally visit the resorts we recommend. When you see pics like this it's not because we enjoy being in front of the camera lens. This pic was taken after I visited 9 huge resorts in 95 degree tropical heat.
Did you know....
The price of your family suite that you saw online already includes the cost of my commission?
While you're spending hours trying to google the answer to what type of hotel room you're thinking of booking, your hotel is pocketing extra profits while making you waste time and do extra work.
Why not take it easy and let us help you?
Chances are someone from our team has stayed at the resort your considering and knows the answer off the top of their head. At the very least, we understand how hotel category descriptions work and if you tell us what your family wants and needs, we can make sure you get the "Wow" factor you deserve with no surprises.