Whenever I come away from the Ace Hotel I always feel inclined to write some kind of gushing love letter for making us feel so genuinely welcome and at ease there. Especially since realizing late last summer what a rarity that kind of hospitality is when trying to book a room for a family as big as ours. No one is pleased to hear you have four children, and a dog to boot. I get that. But it's still a shame that a big family is made to feel like such a burden. With The Ace being the gleaming exception. The staff, the food, the music (where else can you sit poolside and have the likes of early Springsteen, Nina Simon, Bob Dylan and so many other great and obscure sixties pop songs the radio has long forgotten, keep you company?) all of it makes us feel like we belong.
Needless to say, having our favorite hotel overtaken by Crafting Community for three whole days proved nothing short of a monumental experience. From the time you check in till the day you leave your time there is devoted to the simple fact of good old fashioned fun. Upon arrival you are handed a fully stocked goodie bag piled with all kinds of things from crafts and gadgets to hats and sunscreen, to toys, snacks, and everything else under the sun in hopes of preparing you for what promises to be a spectacular weekend. Crammed with families from all kinds of places wearing real smiles, greeting strangers like neighbors where you instantly begin to take note of a real and natural camaraderie that feels a whole lot like the summer camp we envisioned as kids. But were never lucky enough to actually attend. The whole vibe, from the get go has that same summer camp feel. Joy filled, easy, and infectious.
We arrive early afternoon on Friday and land by the pool to relax and enjoy a mellow start to the festivites ahead. Later in the evening the event kicks off offically with a traditional taco night where buffets are rolled out and stacked generously with any array of exotically arranged fresh foods. Music and lights overhead. Kids splashing around the pool with that pretty muted desert landscape serving as surrounding backdrop. Drinks at the bar and lively conversation buzzing all around. Life guards on hand everywhere you look, so the peace of mind of mothers sitting down to eat is palpable.
After dinner Friday the boys retire to our room early with Mike to ensure they are ripe and bright eyed for the following day while I manage to steal away into the ground's cafe "King's Highway" - to share a booth (and a beer) with one of my long lost beloved internet kin, Summer, who I am delighted to learn is staying there for the night, visiting her friend - one of the crafting teachers at the event - in addition to her other dinner companion who happens to be one of my all time favorite online personalities, EVER, and who's unexpected presence in the booth across from me easily tops my whole evening. From there it's a cozy bathrobe, bad television, and bedtime.
Saturday starts early. In fact when pulling the curtain back just before 7am to take a peek out around to see if anyone is up and staggering about those breakfast tables, one is shocked to realize that lo and behold, everyone is on the same brutal schedule as you. And that by golly you are not the only one with a kid who finds it acceptable to wake at sunrise. So before coffee and breakfast, there is a full blown pool party coming together, and not a single soul there trying to complain about it.
From corner to corner the place is decked out and ready for action. What I am quick to realize is just how effectively the grounds are set up, perfectly arranged and creatively curated to meet the needs and likes of kids of all ages. So that everywhere you turn, whether you are 3 or 13, there are new and fun ways to be entertained. Hop scotch on the sidewalks, enormous flamingo floats and bubbles floating around the pool, buckets and crates filled with hot wheels and minature skateboards for simple, easy amusement. Hula hoops and beach balls under the trees, chalk on hand with plenty of willing escorts scattered throughout the place so everywhere your kid wanders feels safe. Every path proving one version of adventure after another. A skateboarding booth, a workout station, a list of classes to attend that fill up as they day wears on. Underwater photography, hip hop hour, frisbee painting, Smile Booths, baby centers. The list goes on and on. And on.
In the smaller pool area is where the major crafting takes place. It starts early afternoon and continues through the evening so you aren't pressured to complete your craft in an unreasonable amount time. We ventured back and forth at our own ease. From the pool, to the snacks, to the craft quarters back to the pool. Sometimes I came with two boys in tow while the other two swam and other times I took just one to allow them the luxury of my having my full attention on the crafts they were most passionate about. Though the staff on hand was fantastic with helping hands readily available around each table, which sure came in handy when trying to juggle the needs of a couple kids, and nurse a baby.
all above photos by the incredibly sweet Morgan Pansing
And then the evenings are just as magical. When the sun goes down and all the swimming starts to subside we are gathered back under the lights by the main pool for dinner. More buffets, more delicious food. More great music. In the balcony above us the fiercely energetic crew at Soul Cycle is perched atop their bikes, sweating it out in sharp heart of the desert sun, with the hypnotic push of famed instructor Angela Manuel - Davis's who's words and wisdom narrate the entire hour with a pulsating effect - with a motivational jive that filters through the speakers straight to your heart. Leaving you flooded with light and inspiration because she makes you feel ready to wage a full force fitness revolution. So when I am informed later, that Mrs. Manuel is friendly with Oprah, I am hardly surprised. The woman is amazing. In every sense of the word.
But aside from the fancy food and the alluring perks that come with a Crafting Community event package, at the end of the day what counts for everything is just how much work is behind all the details. Their time and dedication is apparent in it all. Like some kind of urban utopia set up to build memories that will last you and your kids a lifetime. To ensure that your time there is spent simply having fun as family. A weekend to let loose, relax and unplug, swim, create, dance and make friends. The late nights, the dance parties, the workshops, buffets, and quite corners set up to escape in the shade and play with blocks or board games when you might need a little break. Crafting Community has got you in their best interest. And it's apparent, and much appreciated, every step of the way.
For some more fun photos visit my friend Elizabeth's post here
And a random fun fact, because: Leon, in Palm Springs, is always an event in itself. I swear Every time we are there they are within inches of nominating him for Mayor. I had staff members searching him out for photos and seeking him out for orders, I over heard him telling one girl about how googles let you know what mermaids know, and telling another man when trying to explain where he lived that his house was "by a Starbucks." He fetched water cups for those feeling parched by the pool, showed off his balloon boat he built with pride, in the spa with an ample crowd in attendance. Danced in an oversized sombrero, and made more friends than we could both count on two hands. He is a good time and I love seeing him in that environment. In fact near the end of the trip, while standing at the cork board trying to find my photos they had printed out amongst all the others, the man helping mentioned Leon. Not knowing I was in fact his mother. "This kid right here, he's some kind of celebrity or something. Everyone stops to look at his picture and everyone says how much fun he is. I keep hearing about him." To which I smiled, with a full and quiet heart, and answered back "well, he certainly IS cute."