Thursday, July 2, 2009

Hotel vs. Guest House

We experienced both during our trip and would recommend Hotel

In preparing for our trip to Ethiopia we had been told many times that adoptive families should stay in a guest house in Addis and refrain from visiting the two big hotels. We were told that it was frowned upon for Americans traveling to Ethiopia to adopt to stay at those hotels. So, with that, we took that advice and booked a room at one of the guest houses for our stay in Ethiopia.

We did stay in the guest house for our first night. Let me say the guest house we booked was nice and the staff was very friendly and accommodating. It just wasn’t as comfortable as we might have envisioned. In Addis, it is commonplace for the power to go out almost daily, thus there are many occasions of not having hot water for showers. That happened to us the first morning. The internet connection at the guest house was virtually non-existent, which made it very difficult to communicate with family back home.

A guest house is similar to a bed and breakfast. The one we stayed in had about 6 rooms, each occupied by an American family staying in Addis for an adoption. Each of the other families staying at the guest house were from the same agency (not the agency we used). Their agency told them that they were not to take their children outside of the guest house at any point during the week other than for the embassy appointment. I cannot imagine traveling all the way to Ethiopia to pick up Parker and not being able to leave the confines of the place we were staying to experience Ethiopia with him. Some of the most memorable times we had in Ethiopia were when we were walking around the city experiencing the culture and enjoying some of the restaurants and shops.

After our first night, we went and met Parker and picked up him from the transition house. From there we went with the other family we were traveling with to their hotel, the Sheraton. The hotel was fantastic. After seeing the hotel and noticing how well Parker and the other family’s girl knew each other and enjoyed playing together, we pulled a few strings and moved into the Sheraton. This was the best decision we made while in Ethiopia.

The transition of just getting Parker and getting to know him was difficult even in Addis, but being in a place that we were comfortable made such a big difference. Having the staff at the Sheraton, who were incredibly nice and loved talking with Parker, was such a valuable commodity. Not only was the hotel perfect, the staff was second to none, the pool area was invaluable, as we learned how much Parker enjoyed the water, and the restaurant was reasonably priced and the food was above average.

I would recommend that any family traveling to Addis to adopt look into their options for lodging. The Sheraton is very expensive, but if you can find someone to offer you a friends and family discount, as were lucky enough to have, the price becomes much more reasonable. The extra money we ended up paying to move to the Sheraton was money very well spent, as having a comfortable place to stay was very important for us. It allowed us to focus solely on Parker and getting to know him.

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