Giving Thanks in Tampa.
Updated: Mar 15, 2018
Earlier this week, my Uncle Henry passed away. At 94 years old he was an incredibly intelligent man with a kind heart who dedicated his life to the service of others via the military and later on in life, sharing natural remedies to common ailments and illnesses. Thanks to a planned detour in our Thanksgiving trip to Orlando, my family and I had the chance to visit him at his Tampa home back in November.
When we first planned this trip, we had no intention of going to Tampa. My aunt Pat had graciously invited us to stay with her at the Holiday Inn Resort in Orlando to celebrate Thanksgiving. This was in no way your average resort. First off we had our own 3 BR/3BA house with an amazing kitchen, televisions in every room and a patio that overlooked a beautiful golf course.
In addition to having about 5 or 6 pools on the property, the resort also featured 2 waterparks, 4 restaurants (including a beachside grill/bar), multiple basketball and tennis courts, multiple arcades and even offered a free shuttle to help guests navigate the property since it was so big.
Of course when you take kids to Orlando, their first thought is Disneyland. However as this was a budgeted trip, it wasn't in the cards to take a group of 8 to Disney. Instead of going to Disneyland, we went to Disney Springs/ Downtown Disney on a whim.
I say it was a whim because we actually had no idea it was there nor did we plan it to appease the kids! It was super organic. We were all hungry and my sister found a vegan restaurant, Blaze Pizza, that just so happened to be at Disney Springs.
Disney Springs which I am told used to be called Downtown Disney is a thing to behold. There are restaurants, stores, tons of photo opps, and sometimes you might even see Mickey Mouse strolling the promenade.
Honestly for a child who doesn't know what Disney is in the the first place and is amused by huge dinosaurs built out of legos and lifesize Disney princesses walking around- Disney Springs is an excellent choice. I know for a fact that I will return again.
We definitely had a blast! From turning up on the shuttle, to spending every possible night at the hottub, to cooking random meals in the huge kitchen, to me beating everyone at the air hockey... family time was in FULL EFFECT!
The planned detour came about due to the fact that I was able to find tickets back to Detroit from Tampa for only 36 dollars via Frontier Airlines. This was a great deal, and to get the full effect, I cautioned everyone to ONLY BRING A BOOK BAG! Adding on luggage can easily triple airfare costs which would defeat the purpose of finding the deal in the first place!
So we had the flight out of Tampa, but we the wonderful resort we spent the holiday at was in Orlando, which is like a hour and a half drive to Tampa. Thanks to National Rental Car's One, Two, FREE Promotion, we were able to rent a huge van for the drive for free!
Our group was also able to enjoy a complimentary stay at the Embassy Suites Tampa Westshore thanks to my Hilton Honors Diamond status. This hotel was located across the street from a huge mall, awesome restaurants, and most importantly, the airport. Click here to join the Hilton Honors club and start earning points towards free stays today!
Like other Embassy Suites, this hotel offered complimentary breakfast, evening reception with free cocktails and appetizers, and also provided ample space for my family and I. Our group of 7 (4 adults and 3 children) were able to fit comfortably in our 2 bedroom double Queen Premium suite.
This particular Embassy Suites also had a outdoor pool AND hotub, which is always a big plus in my book.
Aside from the great deals we were able to score on this trip, what I will remember most are memories made and laughs shared. Looking back, the detour to Tampa was clearly a divine thing, not only because it was cost effective, but because it enabled us to spend more time with each other and also with my uncle in his last days.
These are the things money can't buy. I encourage you all to take advantage of each day and either make it something you can look back and be proud of, or at least be able to say, "I learned my lesson on that day". Take time to enjoy the simple things in life, engage in meaningful conversation with those around you especially your elders. Ask them who they are, where they came from, and what their people were like. You might be surprised by their answers.
My Uncle Henry has passed on to glory now, but he is and forever will be in our hearts and minds. His wisdom, words and natural remedies will live on to see another day- through the lives of the people he touched.
Be Blessed Flyy Fam:)
Rest in Power Uncle Henry.