Showing posts with label hotel. Show all posts
Showing posts with label hotel. Show all posts

Welcome to Cumberland, MD - A Great Place for Active Families!

During the summer of COVID, our family has been hanging closer to home like many others.  So rather than boarding planes and planning large vacations, we grabbed our bikes and headed to many of the great local destinations to get outside, stay active, and spend time together.  One of the places we spent a weekend was nearby Cumberland, MD.  At just about 2 hours from our door, it's a great distance for a quick getaway.  While we've passed through Cumberland before, we really hadn't taken the time to truly visit the area.  During our visits, we enjoyed good food, friendly hospitality, and many outdoors-y activities for our family.  

Where We Stayed:  Fairfield Inn and Suites - Cumberland

As many of you know, paying for a hotel room is something our family tries to avoid - and we've been fortunate to avoid that often over the years thanks to points accrued through travel and travel credit cards.  We had a small amount of Marriott points that had been hanging out there for a while, but it was the perfect amount to grab 2 nights at the Fairfield Inn and Suites in Cumberland.  The hotel location was absolutely perfect for what we were looking for during our stay.  We were planning on biking the C&O Canal as part of my son's summer quest to complete both the C&O Canal Towpath and the Great Allegheny Passage.  The hotel is quite literally on the C&O Canal Towpath - simply pedal your bike and roll out of the hotel parking lot!  But the location wasn't just great for cycling.  It was an easy walk to get around Cumberland and there are many great restaurants and entertainment options just outside the hotel in Canal Place.  The only caution to be aware of is that we happened to be there on nights that live bands were playing along the canal and at a nearby bar.  I don't know if this is always a concern in the summertime, or if the social distancing of COVID simply means more outdoor music this summer, but it was pretty noisy in our room until about 10PM.  It didn't stop our littles from falling asleep, but was very noticeable to us.

Fairfield Inn & Suites - Cumberland, MD

Besides the location, we were also really pleased with the hotel's COVID policies and features.  Fairfield Inn and Suites offers a free, hot breakfast each day.  During COVID, instead of the breakfast line being self-serve, they had hotel staff that would take your order, make your plate, then hand it off to you.  It's buffet breakfast food - not the best, but certainly good enough to get you out the door.  Waffles and/or oatmeal are always my go-to meals in these situations.  There is also an indoor pool and hot tub that was a great place to spend the afternoon.  During COVID, guests have to sign up for a time slot and no more than 6 people can be in the area during any one time spot.  Our family of 4 had the place to ourselves for our 90 minutes and enjoyed the chance to relax and unwind.  The hotel rooms are pretty standard - 2 queen beds for us, TV, nice bathroom.  Everything was clean and well maintained!

Want to know more about traveling during COVID?  Check out this post!

Where to Eat in Cumberland

We've been in Cumberland several times over the summer - sometimes just passing through and sometimes for an overnight.  With the time we spent in this Western MD city, we've quickly found some favorite places to visit for a meal while in town.  Here are a few of our favorites:

  • The Crabby Pig - Located right in Canal Place, this restaurant has ample outdoor seating (so important for COVID), live music, a casual atmosphere, kid-approved kid's menu, and yummy food.  This is a good place to sit and unwind after a long day on the trails!
  • Charis Winery - We really enjoy trying local wineries when we travel and were happy to find this little gem.  Also located in Canal Place, it was convenient to our hotel and had lots of outdoor seating as well.  The owner served us on both of our visits and was wonderful to talk to about how his winery started and the development of his wines.  Bonus points if you're traveling with kids - they have delicious lemonade made locally served in glass bottles.  My boys felt very grown up drinking their "fancy" drinks while mom and dad had a tasting.  
Charis Winery

  • Puccini Restaurant - Located right off of I-68, Puccini is a great find just a few miles outside of Cumberland.  As a vegetarian, I was happy to find a Beyond Meat Burger on the menu.  The wood-fired pizzas here were a big hit at our table as well.  Like the others, the easy location and several decks of outdoor seating made this a great choice.
  • Dig Deep Brewing Co. - This brewery was directly next to our hotel which made it very convenient.  While we didn't try any of their beverages while visiting, we did enjoy some of their entertainment.  They have live music on the weekends and also feature food trucks as they don't have their own menu.  I grabbed Thai food from the CVC food truck the weekend we were there and it was very good!

What To Do Around Cumberland, MD

When I think of traveling to Cumberland, I immediately think of getting outside.  Downtown is where the Great Allegheny Passage and C&O Canal Trails meet.  These trails are popular for bikers, hikers, and runners and it was these trails that brought us to Cumberland this summer.  Everything is well-marked and well-maintained in town with these trails.  There's also a train between Frostburg and Cumberland that you can take your bike on normally.  The train wasn't running this summer due to COVID, but we'll be back to check that out when they're up and running again!

Want to know more about biking the Great Allegheny Passage? Check this out!

Visiting the Paw Paw Tunnel

There is also plenty of outdoor space to enjoy at nearby Rocky Gap State Park.  One of our favorite places to see was the Paw Paw Tunnel located on the C&O Canal.  It was so dark in there we really needed our flashlights!  There are so many beautiful natural areas to explore, you won't be disappointed.  


What It's Like To Stay In A Hotel During Coronavirus

This past weekend we did something we hadn't done in months. . .stayed in a hotel.  As you know, my family loves to travel and we are always on the go having new adventures.  But coronavirus has sidelined us, as well as everyone else, from our "normal." So for Father's Day we decided that we were going to load up the bikes and head on a quick road trip up to Jim Thorpe, PA in the Pocono Mountains for some trail riding.  Along with that road trip, would be our first hotel stay in the era of coronavirus.  Long story short, travel fans can rejoice that while hotel stays are different thanks to COVID, they are still doable in my opinion.

Where did we stay?

Readers of my website will know that we are a Hilton family thanks to their great loyalty program and the amount of Hilton points we accumulate.  We used our points to stay at the Hampton Inn-Lehighton for two nights.  This hotel is just a few miles outside of downtown Jim Thorpe and provides a convenient location for cyclists and families that may want to check out the Lehigh Gorge Trail, part of the much larger D&L Trail.  The hotel staff could not have more friendly!  They were accommodating even before we arrived, talking us through some questions we had about the area and bike storage in the days leading up to our visit.  The room was a nice size to accommodate our family of four and there was easy access to the highway.

Hotel Cleanliness During Coronavirus

Top on everyone's list of concerns right now is keeping this clean and sanitized wherever you go, so traveling to a hotel can feel like a big decision.  You'll be happy to know that we were really pleased with the efforts of Hilton as a brand and this Hampton Inn location in particular.  When we arrived, the check-in area was blocked with sheeting so that germs could not pass back and forth.  Even with the barrier in place, employees wore masks and guests were required to wear masks in the lobby area.  The employee who checked us in was warm and welcoming.  She explained that with concerns about transmitting germs, they have currently opted guests out of daily housekeeping - that way once you enter your cleaned and sanitized room, no one but your family will be in there until you check out.  I really liked that option.  Now, if you're someone who isn't worried about having someone enter your room and you really like a "freshen up" each day - you could opt in to housekeeping, but you need to request it and alert the front desk.  If you have an extended stay and would just like fresh towels on different days, you can also call and request them from the front desk and they will be delivered outside your door in a sealed package.

Despite all the measures that were in place, we still brought our own Clorox wipes and wiped down high touch surfaces like the vanity area, dresser, nightstand, desk, etc. before be began unpacking and settling in.  I will also say that every time we were in the lobby, we saw employees wiping surfaces and cleaning.  It's easy to see that Hilton is taking the precautions seriously and we felt good about how clean everything was being kept.

Hotel Amenities During Coronavirus

Something worth noting as you decide whether or not to travel is that some of your typical hotel amenities may not be operating or may be different than what you're used to seeing.  In our case towards the end of June, the indoor pool, fitness center, and business center were all closed.  The commons area also featured socially distanced seating which means less seats available.  We went down to the lobby to eat delivery our first night and were the only ones there and both mornings we ate breakfast in our rooms so we never felt crowded or like seating was an issue during our stay.

One of the biggest changes worth noting is modified breakfast service.  Hotels that typically offer breakfast to guests may have some modifications in place.  Usually, Hampton Inn offers continental options and a daily hot option to guests on a buffet.  This trip, we found the experience to be different - which we expected and is completely understandable.  They had three types of cereal in individually wrapped bowls, a few types of pre-packaged muffins, one hot option individually wrapped in a warmer, and then fruit, yogurt, juices, and milk in a small refrigerator.  Coffee and hot tea were also available with coffee cups individually wrapped in plastic and stirrer / sweeteners also offered in one prepackaged set.  We anticipated that options may be limited so we took advantage of the fact that we were driving and brought some items with us - the kids' favorite cereals, protein bars, and protein shakes.  We grabbed drinks from the lobby each morning, but otherwise ate breakfast in our room.

While these experiences were in one hotel, I have a feeling that you could expect similar realities wherever you travel.  My best advice, call your specific hotel and ask questions ahead of your arrival so you know what to expect!  Happy Travels!