Husband and wife, James and Tamara Lohan, founded Mr & Mrs Smith more than ten years ago after enduring a few disastrous weekend getaways when they were first dating. Today, the Mr & Mrs Smith collection has more than 900 “Smith Approved” hotels around the world, with in-depth reviews that aim to help urban travelers get the most out of any excursion. I asked Mr & Mrs Smith themselves to share their picks for top family friendly, luxe resorts – all perfect winter escapes – as well as tips for making the most of family winter travel.
The James Royal Palm
rates from $339 USD
Little ones will be stylishly cared for with the Lil’ James program, which includes a special welcome pack in a James backpack, arts and crafts from Kiwi Crate, kid-sized bikes, kid-friendly movies and more. Children’s menu options are available in both the restaurant and room service.
Belmond Maroma Resort & Spa
rates from $475 USD
Originally built by a famous architect as his vacation home, Belmond Maroma Hotel & Spa in the Riviera Maya is an oceanfront tribute to traditional Mexico, with whitewashed buildings, thatched roofs and pristine Caribbean views. The hotel staff carry the tiki torch now, offering classic Mayan treatments in the spa, preparing local fish and produce in the excellent restaurants, and the rooms hold ltraditional wood furniture, beautiful linens and breath-snatching views. Rollaway beds are available for $100, and babysitting can be arranged for US$18 an hour for at least four hours, plus transportation.
rates from $319 USD
One of Francis Ford Coppola’s trio of Central American resorts, Turtle Inn hotel in Belize mixes a sprinkling of glamour with its stylish rusticism. Wander from your Balinese-style beach shack across the seemingly endless stretch of white sand, and nap in brightly coloured hammocks strung between bending palm trees after diving into the sun-sparkled sea.
Under-12s stay free – the eight two-bed villas are ideal for families. Extra beds are $50 a night (plus tax). Babysitting is available, if you notify staff at check-in.
Goldeneye Hotel & Resort
rates from $740 USD
Author Ian Fleming wrote more than a dozen James Bond novels from a villa now part of the glamorous Goldeneye Hotel & Resort on Jamaica’s Oracabessa Bay. Named for the Pierce Brosnan Bond film, this collection of cottages and suites surrounds an idyllic beach, treetop restaurant, swim-up spa and well-appointed bedrooms. If you’re feeling especially flush, spring for the five-room former Fleming villa for you and your fellow well-heeled spies.
Children are very welcome. Cribs for babies and rollaway beds are free. With a day’s notice, the hotel can arrange a local nanny for $10 an hour. The restaurant serves a children’s menu.
rates from $550 USD
Private island spa retreat and hotel Parrot Cay by Como on Turks & Caicos provides the ultimate in carefree, relaxation and luxury to discerning jet-setters and A-listers. Set on a tiny atoll that was, up until recently, completely wild and uninhabited, this slice of paradise offers a full mile of unspoilt beach, an amazing spa, and cool, uncluttered, white-washed rooms, suites, and villas. Under-12s can stay free, and babysitting can be arranged for $10 per hour.
Tips for traveling with children:
- Plan ahead, leave plenty of time and take plenty of things to keep the children entertained en route.
- Travel at a sensible time, not during the business rush hour or late at night.
- Tuesdays and Wednesdays are generally less busy and therefore easier to travel with children.
- Check in online ahead of time and pick your seats so it’s less hassle on arrival – in fact lots of airlines are now making advance check in online essential.
- Imagine your perfect day – does it involve an afternoon or two to yourselves? Check when childcare is available (if at all) especially if you are traveling outside the school holidays, and make sure you book your childcare ahead if prompted.
- Perfect vacations mean happy parents plus happy children, not either/or – make sure the hotel you choose has enough to keep you and your partner happy too – it’s your holiday too.
- If you have active youngsters who are not perfectly behaved 100% of the time, steer clear of any hotel that doesn’t actively promote itself as welcoming families – you’ll be on edge the whole time
- Always make sure that you can get the right type of diapers and baby food. It’s dreadful trying to find organic baby food and biodegradeable diapers on the road.
- Break a few rules on vacation – if your tired, grumpy child wants sweets, then let them have them.
- Think about what you plan to do on vacation. Cut down on the museums and art galleries and increase time in a local park or Science museum.
- Make sure your favorite cuddly toy / blanket is separated from your bedding CLEARLY before you leave the hotel room, otherwise housekeeping might send it to the wash and you might lose it. Happened to us!