Author: Laura Allen
Tags : Beach, Family-Friendly Hotels, Hawaii, North America, USA, Watersports
Favorite child-friendly hotels on the Hawaiian islands of Oahu, Maui and Kauai are reviewed by professional hotel critics to choose the best for families and kids.
A team of Oyster reporters spent a month exploring 92 top resort hotels on the islands of Oahu, Maui, and Kauai. (Other islands are on the horizon.) We slept in the beds, lounged on the beaches, ate in the restaurants, and even danced some hula, all with an eye toward selecting the most distinguished properties. Here's a list of our favorite child-friendly hotels. All these places offer solid value, but families that are particularly budget conscious might also check out our list of the best value hotels in Hawaii.
The largest resort in Hawaii, the amenities-packed Hilton Hawaiian Village has more to offer families than any other property on Oahu -- or Maui or Kauai for that matter. The crowds are big. But if you can make a pre-breakfast detour to stake out chairs by one of the four impressive pools -- one is Waikiki's largest-- your kids will be thoroughly entertained. Among the top-shelf attractions are the dozens of species of animals on the grounds, including parrots and penguins, and the calm, coral-reef-protected waters at the beach. What'll you love? A chance for kid-free relaxation, thanks to the Rainbow Express Keiki Club, which plans field trips to the aquarium or zoo and activities like sandcastle building, for kids ages five to 12. (The $90 per day cost is half of the price of Sheraton Waikiki's kids' club.)
An extraordinarily elaborate pool complex -- a veritable water park, in fact, with four waterslides, whitewater rapids, caves, a lazy-river pool, rope swings, and a "water elevator" inside a man-made volcano -- puts Maui's Grand Wailea in a class by itself when it comes to keeping the kids stimulated. Add in the 20,000-square-foot kids' camp, complete with video arcade, Playstation room, and a small movie theater, and the only open question is whether your family will agree to return to ordinary life.
With the best kids' club on Kauai, wildlife talks in the lobby, and a five-acre pool complex that includes an enormous lazy-river pool, a waterslide, and a saltwater lagoon big enough for kayaking, the Grand Hyatt is unbeatable for keeping kids busy and parents happy. Plus, five of the resort's 11 restaurants have children's menus. The only blemish on what's otherwise a kid's paradise is the rocky beach, where rough surf makes swimming tough for tots.
The Hyatt Regency has it all. With a rope bridge, waterfalls, 150-foot waterslide, and separate children's area, the massive pool complex rivals the Grand Wailea's impressive water park. The large standard rooms can easily accommodate a family of four. There's no kid's club per se, but supervised activities run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. (for $70 per child). Plus, kids will love the flamingos, parrots, and penguins on the grounds. This kid-friendly paradise is nipping at the Grand Wailea's heels -- and rates are lower.
Many families could happily spend their entire vacation on the grounds of this activity-packed Oahu resort. The three sprawling, winding pools have waterfalls, a slide, and a basketball hoop. The lagoon is calm enough for family snorkeling. Parents can grab guilt-free time off by enrolling the kids in the hotel's twice-weekly, four-hour "Passport to Fun" sessions. And the hotel runs activities like fish feeding and yarn lei-making every day.
The Sheraton's Helumoa Playground pool, just opened in 2009, is arguably the best -- and kid-friendliest -- pool in Waikiki. A waterslide, sprinkler-like fountains, and tropical landscaping put it on par with some of the more elaborate pools at Caribbean resorts. Budget-conscious families will appreciate that kids under 17 stay for free, while parents who want to work kid-free relaxation into their trip can make use of the superb kids' camp, where teachers lead kids on trips to the zoo and in activities like bodyboarding for $180 a day. One warning: Expect crowds; the 1,636-room Sheraton is the second-largest resort in the area.
While the Kauai Marriott can't top the Grand Hyatt in most categories, its beach has the Hyatt beat. With soft sands and gentle waves, Kalapaki Beach is excellent for swimming, bodyboarding, and beginner's surfing. A shallow area is perfect for splashing. When kids tire of salt water, send them to the hotel's 26,000-square-foot pool, the largest single-level pool in Hawaii. Until the kids' club reopens in December 2009, the hotel is offering daily family activities like koi-fish feading and hula lessons.
Yes, the Four Seasons is one of the priciest resorts on Maui -- not surprising for a hotel that tops our list of Hawaii's best luxury resorts. But the hotel deserves credit for throwing a free kids' club into the deal; most resorts charge a hefty daily fee to keep kids entertained while their parents enjoy some rest and relaxation. And the family pool, though not as elaborate as the Grand Wailea's, features a small waterslide, a waterfall, and a shallow area where the smallest kids can splash safely. Also worth noting: The resort's large standard rooms can easily sleep four, and kids under six eat free at two of the on-site restaurants.
Read in-depth expert hotel reviews and see more undoctored photography for each hotel on Oyster.com.