Back to School…On Vacation

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August 9, 2016

Across the country, kids and parents are gearing up for back to school. From supply shopping to first day jitters, school is on everyone’s mind. But school isn’t the only place where learning happens. Today, many hotels and resorts offer exciting learning programs for kids—and adults, too. Next time you’re planning a trip, consider making it a learning vacation.


Painting: The Westin Cape Coral Resort at Marina Village has a partnership with eclectic local artist Leoma Lovegrove, who offers on-site group painting classes on the resort’s lawn. Participants paint as they enjoy a calming view of the Gulf of Mexico, Caloosahatchee River, and San Carlos Bay.

Sand Sculpting: Award-winning artist Marianne van den Broek runs the sand sculpting workshop at Casa Marina in Key West, Florida. Each sculpting session takes place on the resort’s private beach, the largest in Key West. Kids learn the fundamentals of sand sculpting and have the opportunity to carve everything from their favorite pet to a family mural.

Glassmaking: The Corning Museum of Glass in the Finger Lakes region allows children to explore 3,500 years of glassmaking history, and to watch glass pieces come to life during hot glass demos. They also get the chance to try it themselves, creating ornaments, night lights, and other creations.

Exercise and Sports

Yoga: At Great Wolf Lodge resorts across the country, kids can kick-start the day with the new “Yoga Tails” morning program.  During the class, young “wolf pups” flutter like butterflies and roll around like happy bears as they learn yoga movements and breathing techniques to help channel their inner yogi, Great Wolf style. Classes are free for guests.

Swimming: A one-of-a-kind swimming experience for kids of all ages, guests at Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek don fins and learn how to swim like a mermaid (or a shark) in the hotel’s 3-acre lazy river and family pool.

Surfing: Hilton Hawaiian Village, on Waikiki’s widest stretch of beach, offers beginning surfing lessons at the resort’s world-famous Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon.

Music, Theatre, and Dance

Hula Lessons: At Hilton Waikoloa Village, a resident kumu hula, or hula teacher, provides hula lessons for children and families.  Hula dancing, which was developed in the Hawaiian Islands by the Polynesians who originally settled there, is a complex art that uses hand motions to represent words in a song.

Improv: AKA, which provides luxury, long-term lodging in five cities, partnered with the Magnet Theater to offer improvisation classes at its New York City location. Residents can enjoy customized personal workshops or eight-week classes to learn the principals of performing and improv. And if improv doesn’t do it for you, they also offer aerial arts and photography classes.

Sky-High LearningHawaiian Airlines exposes children to Hawaiian culture even before they get there. Their flights feature documentaries on Hawaii, amenities labeled in Hawaiian, and traditional music. The airline even has ukuleles available on-board their inter-island jet, ‘Ohana by Hawaiian, for in-flight ukulele lessons. 

Language and Culture

Spanish Lessons in Costa Rica: At Los Suenos Marriott Ocean & Golf Resort, which is nestled between the Pacific Ocean and a 1,100-acre tropical rainforest, kids and adults can learn Spanish. Complimentary hour-long classes are offered every day by the palm-lined pool overlooking the ocean.

Spanish Lessons in Dominican Republic: To help guests “hablan espanol,” AlSol Hotels & Resorts, a collection of all-inclusive resorts in Cap Cana Dominican Republic, offer daily Spanish lessons by the pool. Taught by native Spanish speakers, guests get a crash course in every day salutations, restaurant ordering, and more.

Spanish Lessons in MexicoSandos Caracol Eco Resort encourages families to learn more about Mayan and Mexican culture while vacationing in the Riviera Maya. Each day in the Kids’ Club, tiny travelers have the opportunity to learn Spanish and to participate in daily activities to honor different aspects of Mayan culture.


Wildlife Science: The HarbourView Inn, Charleston’s only waterfront hotel in the Historic District, offers behind-the-scene tours of the Avian Conversation Center and Sea Turtle Hospital at the South Carolina Aquarium. Guests learn about the Holy City’s local ecosystem, wild birds of prey, aquatic animals, and endangered species.

Local and Natural History:  The Westin La Paloma Resort & Spa’s Kids’ Club gives guests a close-up look at local history, flora, and fauna. Kids learn about the gold rush, desert cactus, creepy critters of the west, and more.

Nutrition: Adults and kids who step into the BodPod at Well & Being at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess and Four Seasons Resort and Club Dallas at Las Colinas will receive the world’s most advanced body composition assessment. The BodPod analyzes body mass. Based on this assessment, Well & Being fitness experts provide guests with healthy nutrition suggestions and exercise recommendations.

Chemistry: At Waldorf Astoria Orlando, budding chemists can watch the resident mad scientist create an edible ice cream “experiment” using liquid nitrogen—an interactive experience that teaches guests a delicious lesson about the chemistry of cooking.

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