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Maoming and Guilin, China in April -OR- July?

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Hello,

We have been trying to figure out a family trip to China for a long time now. Two adults, two kids (5.5 and 9). We need to spend several days in the Maoming area involving a lot of driving, and then we would also have time to go to Guilin. We want Guilin to be a relaxing and enjoyable holiday for all of us after the car travel days.

-- We have school vacation in April or in July. Which would you recommend for the best weather? I read a trip report here about cool and drizzly weather in April in Guilin. Great for photographers, not so great for little kids who want to stand outside on the boat and swim in the hotel pool.
-- We'd fly U.S. to Guangzhou, drive to Maoming area (Gaozhou). What's the best way to get to Guilin after that? Return by car to Guangzhou and fly to Guilin?
-- I looked for hotels in Guilin in April 2013 on many websites and the entire region looks to be booked up. Is this possible?
-- Do we need a guide in Guilin if we stay at a high-end Western hotel? Our kids speak Mandarin (but they're kids, not interpreters) and none of us speaks Cantonese.

Thank you for any advice,
BMarieL

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