For many parents, a family vacation with kids in tow might leave you less relaxed and more stressed out than ever. It’s difficult to relax poolside when you have a cranky toddler or a sullen teen to tend to. Thankfully, many resorts are stepping up and offering awesome children’s programs that guarantee a few moments of unwind time while kids learn, play and meet new friends from around the world. Here are three luxury resorts that are setting the bar for activity-packed children’s programming.
This luxurious resort, nestled between the white sand D.T. Fleming Beach and the Hawaiian rainforest, offers families an unforgettable island retreat. You’ll be surrounded by 22,000 pristine acres featuring one of Hawaii’s largest nature preserves and two marine sanctuaries. Your fantasy-island like vacation will begin as soon as you’re greeted with a Kukui Nut Lei in the authentic Aloha spirit.
By far one of the best programs offered at The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua is Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ambassadors of the Environment program. This onsite environmental and cultural education center offers excursions led by expert naturalists and programming for children starting at age five. As a family participating in the program, you might choose to hike through the rainforest, snorkel the coral reefs or participate in underwater photography lessons.
Or your kids might opt to take a morning or afternoon class on their own (giving mom and dad a chance to spend some time at the resort’s #1 rated golf course in Hawaii or simply laze by the beach with a cocktail). Among the children’s course offerings, kids can choose to learn about nocturnal rain forest creatures, catch some waves on a boogie board, or get up close and friendly with an endangered green sea turtle. The Ambassador’s of the Environment program hopes that guests will gain a greater understanding of the relationship between humans and the environment. According to Jean-Michel Cousteau, “We expect everyone, by learning more about our natural world and their places within it, to return to their communities as environmental stewards or ambassadors of the environment.”
Located on two miles of private, white-sand shoreline, Half Moon features not only the most beautiful beach in Jamaica, but also lush gardens, a state-of-the-art spa, and family and children’s programming that guarantee a vacation chock full of unforgettable memories.
Family activities include horseback riding at the Equestrian Centre, swimming with dolphins in the private Dolphin Lagoon, and an 18-Hole Championship Golf Course, but you’ll want to spend most of your time at the beautiful beach or stunning swimming pool.
Every kid visiting Half Moon is referred to as a V.I.L.P. (Very Important Little Person), and receives a special welcome gift. Families can also request a “Sleepy Treat”: freshly baked cookies and milk or a story and tuck-in with cookies and milk.
Inspired by Jamaica’s fabled children’s character Anancy the Spider, the on-site Anancy Children’s Village features a play area features a model “Caribbean village” and fun learning programs for children ages 3 to 12. Be on the lookout for Anancy, who is known to roam the resort. For teens, the Hype Zone offers a myriad of activities, including tennis clinics, volleyball, nature walks, golf, squash, horseback riding, and water sports galore.
Leave the stress of daily living behind and travel to the U.S. Virgin Islands, where the Westin St. John Resort and Villages will serve as your home away from home amidst 47-acres of lush gardens along a sparkling, sandy beaches. Adjacent to the 7,000-plus acres of Virgin Islands National Park, this resort also gives you a chance to explore the tropical habitat of colorful birds, fish and plants. The villas feature apartment-style layouts, with spacious family rooms and kitchenettes, giving your family the comforts of home while on vacation.
The highlight of this resort is by far the excellent array of watersports, including swimming, scuba diving, kayaking, sport fishing, parasailing, windsurfing, boating and snorkeling. (The weather on St. John is typically sunny and 85 degrees, year round!) Arrange for a day to luxuriate in the full-service spa, or hit the lighted, brand new turf courts for a tennis match. Golf is available at the nearby Mahogany Run course on St. Thomas.
When Mom and Dad find themselves craving some time together at the beach, bring the kids on over to the Westin Kids Club, where kids ages 3 – 12 will enjoy indoor and outdoor supervised activities. Every child will also receive their own Discovery Pack, filled with toys and other Caribbean-themed toys gifts. The kids club also provides babysitting services for kids of all ages, including infants, so mom and dad can reconnect over an elegant dinner at one of the resorts in-house restaurants.
Good luck on relaxing, with the family, this winter season!