At $120 a night during Florida’s notorious spring break, the Art Deco Hotel Shelley had seemed like a bargain. It even included a free airport shuttle to the hotel’s South Beach address, walking distance from where we would pick up our camper van rental the next morning before making a beeline for the Florida Keys. When the shuttle arrived, it was impossible to miss. Wrapped in a wheels-to-roof vinyl ad, the bus was a mobile billboard splashed with the racy, larger-than-life image of a buxom woman — her blond hair thrown back, her face flushed — being caressed by a masked man, red silk around his neck. Next to the door was a slogan: “Quirky + Sexy + Chic No-Tell Hotels.” My husband, infant daughter and I climbed aboard. I had, it seemed, booked my family at what in Mexico is artfully referred to as a “love motel.” Well, I thought, no “Mom of the Year” award for me.


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