I initially had some hesitation in posting this review, as this can be somewhat of a sensitive topic. On the one side you have the folks who are not comfortable with the idea of having a 'stranger' watch their children; on the other, you have the folks who either don't have the option of leaving the kids at home or like travelling with their kids but would still like a night out to themselves.
While we've been lucky in the past to have family close by willing to watch our kids while we recharge our batteries, unfortunately that's no longer the case. As a result, we've had at least one of our kids accompany us for our past few trips. It's been great. They've enjoyed it and we've enjoyed showing them around. But you still get to the point where it would be nice to have a few moments alone - to have dinner, sit at the bar somewhere, or see Big Al Carson - if only for a few hours.
Prior to our last trip in September, I called several of the nicer hotels around the quarter including the Monteleone (where we stayed) asking about babysitting options. None of the hotels recommend individual sitters, but they have a short-list of service providers and at the top of everyone's list is Dependable Kid Care. I asked the concierges about feedback from guests who've used the service, and all the comments they shared were positive. I asked how often people use the service and the response was "more often than they'd admit to"
I looked on the web for feedback about Dependable and couldn't find anything, positive or otherwise. There also weren't any news articles referencing any incidents, a good thing, as I reckon all it takes is for one incident and it would be all over the web.
I honestly think that people don't post reviews about using a babysitting service because they're afraid of the backlash they'll get from folks who are not comfortable with the idea for themselves. I guess that's why I'm posting this, to help other folks who are in-need of or more comfortable with using a service.
So, several weeks prior to our trip I contacted Dependable Kid Care at 504-486-4001 about them watching our two year old daughter. The cost is $14/hour plus parking with a 3-hour minimum. They said their sitters are all female, late 20's to early 60's, 3 yrs experience, CPR trained, bonded, etc. We made a reservation for the Saturday night of our stay. They indicated our sitter would contact us several days prior to our arrival to firm up arrangements.
As promised we received a call the Thursday before our trip and confirmed the arrangement. That Saturday night we received a call from the front desk at the Monteleone indicating our sitter had arrived, 15-minutes early at that. We met her in the lobby and brought her up to the room. Our sitter was in her 50's, nicely dressed, and had the aura of a young-Grandmother about her - complete with a W.W.J.D. neck strap holding her Dependable credentials . We brought her up to the room and observed as she got acquainted with our daughter. Within a few minutes the two of them were playing pretty pretty princesses. We left contact information and bed-time instructions and quietly made our exit, similar to the way we leave at home when we have a sitter.
As we were a little concerned as to how our daughter would react once she realized Mommy and Daddy had left the room, particularly away from home, we indicated that we would stay close for a while in case the sitter needed us to come back. We sat having a cocktail at the Carousel Bar in the lobby of the Monteleone for a half hour, but the phone didn't ring.
Just to make sure all was settled before we left the hotel we went up to our room and listened at the door. The pretty princess game was still underway and my daughter could be heard giggling.
With that, we were off for an evening in the Quarter where we tried to cram in as many of our favorites into a few hours. A great dinner, a stop here, a stop there, some fine music and the usual ambiance. Before we knew it, time was up, and after getting one for the road we made our way back to the hotel.
On entry to the room the sitter was reading a book in the sitting room while our daughter was sound asleep in her crib in the bedroom. Total cost for the 4 hours plus parking, and a ~20% tip came to $85. Night out for Mommy and Daddy = priceless.
The next morning when my daughter woke up, instead of greeting us, her first request was to know where the sitter was and ask if she'd be joining us for breakfast. Typical.
In other words, we had a terrific experience using Dependable Kid Care (5 stars). They were easy to work with, did what they said they'd do, made us feel comfortable, and provided a great experience. While we were a little nervous about using a service for the first time, we would now have no reservations about doing it again. Yes, it is more expensive than what we pay at home, but it allowed us to get a little couple-time in our favorite city.
I think using the sitter on our last night versus the first night helped our daughter acclimate and feel comfortable in the hotel room, which helped her not have to adjust to too many new things at once when the sitter arrived. When she recounts her trip to New Orleans it's all about the horsies (pulling carriages), the Mississippi river, beignet, and the sitter. All good things to her.
I understand if this isn't something you're comfortable with, but if you are in the same boat as we were, wondering if anyone's ever used Dependable, hopefully this review will provide you with some perspective to base your decision on.