Some popular family hotels and resorts in Canada, Mexico, Europe and Asia boast large family suites whose decor and amenities have been designed with kids in mind.
Between June and September 2009, Family Travel Forum’s consulting division, FTFc, interviewed all the properties noted in its original report, “Kids Dig Hotels Designed With Their Needs In Mind” to find out about the state of resorts for family vacations. Happily, changes in these international hotels and resorts’ approach to family travel have been positive ones.
Most of the sales and marketing managers we interviewed reported an increase in children’s amenities and family vacation packages. When the many family projects destined for the leading Middle Eastern destinations of Dubai and Abu Dhabi are finished, we anticipate being able to add many more interesting kid-themed hotels to this roundup.
Canada & Mexico Kid-Design Hotels
Retorno del Rey #36 Zona Hotelera
Cancun, Q. Roo, Mexico 77500
One of the most well-known luxury hotel chains in the world, Ritz-Carlton doesn’t disappoint. Along with the Cancun property’s 365 guest rooms, the hotel boasts a spa, culinary center, and a beach club, in addition to their popular Ritz Kids program, which invites kids to go on a Mayan adventure. Kids 4- to 12-years-old can attend full-day and half-day camps that incorporate fun-filled, supervised activities with an educational flair. The hotel also has three Itsy Bitsy Kids’ rooms to accommodate parents traveling with babies. The rooms provide amenities including a crib, changing table, a television armoire, miniature hangars for baby clothes, and a phone programmed to light up so the ring doesn’t disturb a sleeping baby. The hotel also provides families a “shh, baby is sleeping sign” to inform other guests and staff to respect their need for quiet. The Ritz-Carlton Hotel staff is there to assist parents (for a fee) with anything they might need, even prior to arrival, by inquiring about additional services such as extra diapers or formula.
At the numerous Canad Inns properties throughout Canada and at one location in North Dakota, kids can take part in the Hotel Fun 4 Kids programs. The options offered include kid-themed rooms with themes such as Under the Sea, Space, and Jungle Fun. Guests can also try the Adventure Kids Club for 2- to 12-year-olds, and receive a kit upon arrival that will aid them in their stay with an I.D. button, information folder, water-based tattoos, and more. Included in the kit is a decoder ring to use at restaurants to uncover hidden messages on the kid’s menu, giving kids the privilege of discovering “insider” information. A highlight of the Grand Forks, North Dakota location is their indoor water park (admission to the park is an additional charge), one of the largest of its kind. The layout of the themed rooms include a separate area for the kids, featuring a bunk bed, TV, and Play Station, while the parents’ room includes a queen bed. At the AALTOS Garden CafÃ©, kids get a decidedly old-fashioned treat — while waiting for food, they are given a coloring book and crayons. The cafÃ© includes a slushie bar and make-your-own sundae dessert selections, a revenue-producing treat for all.
Canada T5T 4V4
Talk about innovative revenue-producing schemes, this Canadian hotel is located inside the Edmonton Mall, an enormous venue with its own senior citizen living facility. The Fantasyland Hotel opened in 1986, and has since grown to include 120 themed-rooms (many adult and honeymooner-focused) with 11 different themes including Hollywood, Roman, Polynesian, African and more. The unique location allows family guests access to many great attractions such as Galaxyland Amusement Park, the world’s largest indoor amusement park, Professor Wem’s Miniature Golf, the Sea Life Caverns, and many shopping areas. In-room amenities include movies, high-speed internet and non-stop ornamentation; the hotel also has fitness facilities and a dining room. Specifically for families, the Fantasyland has a Kid’s Corner, which includes a kid’s menu, babysitting services, playpens, and bunk beds (including one within prison bars) in select rooms. However, kid guests won’t be spending much time in the rooms as adventures abound to keep them entertained.
European Kid-Design Hotels
Here’s a look at a top London boutique / business hotel, and an oceanfront Cyprus resort that have gone all out to keep families happy.
Athenaeum Hotel & Apartments
London, England W1J 7BJ
This famous London hotel has housed celebrities and high-profile guests including Steven Spielberg, Sheryl Crow, and Marlon Brando among others. Located in heart of London opposite Royal Park and Buckingham Palace, the Athenaeum features large suites in townhouses in addition to a main high-rise tower, whose rooms have complimentary mini-bar and WiFi for what’s typically a business guest. Located just around the corner, the townhouses have been renovated into themed suites as well as a special Family Apartment. The one-bedroom family apartment is furnished like home with a king-sized sofa bed in the pretty parlor, a fully stocked, stylish kitchen with a fridge, a washer-dryer and 24-hour room service. Select apartment units have adjoining doors so they can be combined for larger families. In addition, the hotel has a Kid’s Concierge, who provides special services for kids before and during their visit. Prior to guests’ arrival, the concierge will compile a toy box filled with age-appropriate toys, games, books, and DVD’s for kids to enjoy. Whether families book a premium hotel room or a luxurious family apartment, they receive complimentary milk and cookies before bedtime and recommended itineraries for their visit. Other service highlights include kid-sized bathrobes and slippers for young royalty, and the custom Guest Profile, which bolsters customer relations by providing requested magazines and pillow types in guestrooms prior to arrival.
Adam’s Beach Hotel
5340 Ayia Napa
This Mediterranean resort offers seven Kids Suites that sleep three to five people, alleviating the vexing challenge of sleeping a larger family in European hotels. Families can choose between suites and guestrooms, with suites offering more privacy with one queen bed and one bunk. In the kids’ room, there is a desk and chairs along with a TV and Play Station, and in the parent’s room there is a TV and balcony. Additionally, Adam’s Beach has moderately priced Family Rooms — perhaps to cater to their growing market of Russian families — featuring a double bed and two twin-sized beds for the kids. The hotel can provide babysitting services upon request and also a Kids Club for kids between the ages of 4-12 (operational between April and October). The hotel restaurant menu features children’s meals to keep the kids happy, priced well below adult fare (to keep parents happy). Other kid-pleasing services include the playground, large and shallow pool and water slides (seasonal).
Asia, Pacific Kid-Design Hotels
Many of Asia’s best known resort areas — Phuket, Thailand; Bali, Indonesia; Queensland, Australia; Mt. Fuji, Japan — which tailored their offerings to attract families with young children, have expanded their facilities to keep families with teens coming back for years.
Allamanda Laguna Phuket
29 Moo 4 Srisoonthorn Road
Phuket, Thailand 83110
66/ 76 362 700
Allamanda, just off the southwest coast of Thailand, gives families a tropical vacation along the Andaman Sea. Family Suites have two rooms, and the kids’ room has its own bathroom, colorful furnishings, games, toys, videos, and a Game Boy. For ultimate comfort, the home-like suites have living and dining areas, a kitchenette, and satellite TV. To maximize parents’ convenience, several suites also have a veranda with a view of the lagoon for monitoring kids’ water play. From 9am-9pm daily, for a fee, children ages 4-8 can participate in the Allamanda Kids Club, where they can enjoy the numerous arts n’ crafts activities or play tennis, go scuba diving, or just have fun on the waterslide. The club also features beach volleyball, football and includes indoor activities that cover families who travel in the rainy season. The resort offers babysitting, bike rentals, and windsurfing as well. There are six swimming pools (three of which are especially for children) and a Summer Family Festival (to draw guests in low season). The summer program includes activities for the whole family such as a BBQ, as well as a beer garden for adults to enjoy while the kids take part in the Summer Fun Program, which runs from early July through the end of August.
Bali Dynasty Resort
Tuban, South Kuta
Bali, Indonesia 80361
In the Kupu-Kupu Kiddies Club, little tykes love the waterslides, kiddie pool, and the Enchanted Garden-themed club. Although the club is designed for kids 4- to 12-years-old, parents can enroll toddlers and infants under 4 provided an adult or babysitter (for a fee) is with them at all times. The club is open from 8am-6pm daily and even introduces kids to traditional Balinese games. A children’s menu is offered, and kids under 12 eat for free when they are with a full-paying adult. The Bali Dynasty offers families many different lodging options with Sponge Bob Squarepants-themed kids suites, family garden-view rooms, and family pool-view rooms. All three types accommodate up to five people, with the kids suite including a king, bunk, and sofa bed, and the pool and garden-view rooms featuring a king, bunk, and trundle bed.
Main Beach, Gold Coast
Queensland, Australia 4217
The Family Rooms at this theme park resort feature either two double beds or two queen-sized beds and can be connected to adjoining rooms. Connecting rooms include two desks, a mini-bar, two dining tables, two balconies and patios, and an LCD television. In addition, there is a kitchenette with a microwave and refrigerator, catering to the many Asian guests who like to prepare their own meals. While Seaworld has more than enough to keep the kids entertained, the resort offers great facilities as well. These facilities include a lagoon pool and a wading pool for the little ones, a spa and exercise room, water sports, tennis and ping pong, and a Kids Club for guests ages 4-12 years. At the kids club, children can enjoy supervised activities by day, and dinner and ice cream from 5:30pm-9pm while parents dine on-site. The activities offered include indoor and outdoor games, theme nights like Disco night, a Yen-absorbing arcade called Intensity Gamezone (located in the lobby and open 24 hours), and other fun. Babysitting, for a fee, is arranged by the front desk.
Hotel Highland Resort & Spa
5 6 1 Shin Nishihara
Fujiyosida, Japan 4030017
This resort provides guests with great views of Mt. Fuji, and direct access to the Fuji-Q Theme Park, with free admission (Note: once inside the park you will have to pay for rides and other activities). Just as the theme park is known for its Thomasland, a tiny travelers’ paradise of rides and play areas devoted to Thomas The Tank Engine and his Friends, so many rooms are super-themed with train toys and graphics as Thomas and Friends Suites. All of those little things that a family coming for a day at a theme park and getting carried away might not bring on vacation — like sewing kits, hair bands, room slippers, travel toothbrush set, cotton pads, a comb, and swimsuit bag — are complimentary with your stay. The resort is known for its great dining and on-site shopping arcade; spa services are available at an additional fee. Families can expect baby cribs free of charge and extra beds, for more than two kids, are available for a fee.
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