Hotel kids programs used to mean a dingy room with a coloring book and maybe a TV for movie time. But these days, hotels have really upped the ante when it comes to rolling out all the stops for young travelers. From getting the chance to direct their own music videos, to learning to surf, to dog sledding workshops, these hotels go above and beyond to offer the best hotel kids programs out there.
Sure, there's movie studios, the Griffith Observatory, and Venice's famed canals. But no visit to Los Angeles is complete without taking a dip in its world class surfing scene. At The Westin Los Angeles, kids can embark on a surf adventure with the help of Surf Concierge, Jenny Palomo, who’s ready to organize surf lessons for kids of all ages with premier surf school, Campsurf, and share all things surf-related. Hang ten!
Budding botanist? Future Michelin-starred chef? Belmond Napasai in Koh Samui lets young travelers indulge their career aspirations with the “My First Job” program. Guests can join the hotel’s head chef in the kitchen to create chocolate roses, or blend local papaya and coconut juices with the bartender for a delicious mocktail. Kids can also learn the art of Thai dance from a local expert.
The Chatwal, New York invites the world’s littlest travelers to explore the Big Apple – Chatwal-red backpack in tow. Long-immersed in the glamour of the New York’s world-renowned theater productions, Chatwal’s littlest guests can reenact their favorite theater moments thanks to the new in-room "Dressing Room" trunk available to borrow in each of The Chatwal’s one-bedroom suites. The steamer trunk is filled with accessories to transform kids into character, ranging from the Wicked Witch of the West’s black hat and Elsa’s tiara as well as the Aladdin-inspired magic carpet and genie lamp and Harry Potter’s signature glasses and wand.
At the Wilderness Way School along the Susquehanna River in the Finger Lakes, families are taught primitive outdoor survival skills and wilderness living. Encouraged to reconnect with nature, guests attain self-sufficiency skills, survival techniques and personal awareness that can be applied in daily life through hands-on training from specialized staff.
Families booking Hilton La Romana in the Dominican Republic have access to a batting cage where kiddos can practice the country’s favorite sport of baseball and unleash their inner Pedro Martinez or David Ortiz. Alternatively, kids with a knack for the arrow can request to take an archery class to perfect their aim.
Courtesy of The Willard Intercontinental
Located just steps from the White House, the historic Willard Intercontinental offers history tours geared towards families and young children, a Children's Library, as well as a Kid Concierge program designed to help create an itinerary based on children's interests and ages. They also feature a fun program where kids can trade new facts they've learned for "Millie Bucks," which can then be used to get a sweat treat at the Cafe du Parc.
Le Royal Monceau is home to the first and only hotel Art Concierge in Paris - Julie Eugène. Through her role, she is able to curate customized art and cultural experiences for guests – including personalized activities and tours for children and families. Highlights include a private guitar lesson at the hotel where children can learn how to play a melody of their choice, to customized art tours around the city tailored to a specific age range, interest or passion point. The offerings immerse children in the city’s art and culture, allowing them to learn through experience where they may even discover a new passion of their own.
Courtesy of Six Senses
Six Senses Zighy Bay offers incredible opportunities with Grow With Six Senses, their program just for kids. Children will learn through interacting with animals and plants at Six Senses Zighy Bay’s own farm and organic garden. Housing baby goats, camels, chickens, cows and much more, children can collect their own breakfast food when visiting the farm in Dibba. They learn about how the resort cares for these animals as well as see and learn about the different kinds of produce growing there. Budding chefs can learn how to prepare their own healthy food, and also understand the correct meaning of organic and how to shop for the right food for them and the environment. Both the farm and the garden teach them about the different ingredients, understand their nutritional benefits and learn how to use them in their diet.
Courtesy of Nemacolin
Located on 2,000 mountain acres in the Laurel Highlands, Nemacolin Woodlands Resort is like summer camp for the whole family. Featuring an off-road driving academy, shooting academy, rock climbing and more, the resort offers an amazing array of activities for kids and families. It also has a petting zoo, an Kidz Club, an Arcade, a Hardy Girls Gymnasium and a Wildlife Academy and Adventure Center. If that's not enough, they have magical winter offerings too. Starting the Friday after Thanksgiving, guests are invited to join Nemacolin every Friday of the holiday season for Light Up Nemacolin! The weekly celebration includes spectacular lightshows, activities for guests of all ages, performances by carolers and festive appearances by elves, a snow princess and even Mr. and Mrs. Claus themselves.
Schloss Elmau is one of the most luxurious spa resorts in Germany and, in the heart of the Bavarian Alps, it's also an ideal destination for families. The resort offers six separate spas for grown-up indulgences, five restaurants, the largest hotel bookstore in Germany and a concert hall. Kids and teens can have a great, meaningful vacation thanks to the free ski lessons for kids, dog sled workshops, snow tubing and a dedicated kids' club for ages 1 to 5.
Courtesy of Heckfield Place
Heckfield Place, the quintessential Georgian manor house in Hampshire, England (just one-hour away from London) is an ideal family getaway for outdoor lovers. The 16th-century Heckfield Place has been restored to its classic origins and celebrates its past while bringing that simplicity of life into the 21st century. The hotel's Mud & Guts Adventures gets kids off their screens and into nature as they explore Heckfield's giant woodlands through games and quizzes.
Courtesy of Ashford Castle
Ashford Castle, the 13th-century castle estate turned luxury resort in County Mayo, Ireland, offers unique amenities to delight kids, such as offering delicious homemade cookies personalized with the children’s names and custom bedtime storybooks where children discover that they are the main characters in the tales. What's more: Ashford Castle has its own LEGO butler service, delivering LEGOs directly to guestrooms, presented on a silver tray. For outdoor fun, kids can learn to fly a hawk at Ireland's First School of Falconry, ride horses at the equestrian center, and zip-line through the emerald forest.
San Clemente Palace Kempinski, the exclusive luxury resort on its own 17-acre private island in the Venice lagoon, located a mere 8 minutes away from the bustle of St. Mark's Square, is ideal for families traveling with young children. As the property is contained on its own island, parents won't have to worry about their kids getting lost within the crowds of Venice. Beyond swimming or playing tennis at the resort, children from ages 4 to 11 can access the kids' club, which includes treasure hunting and painting their own Venetian masks.
Courtesy of Royal Malewane
Royal Malewane, a safari lodge in Kruger National Park, boasts the Most Qualified Guiding Team in Africa on a private game reserve. For Family Safaris, the lodge offers a number of goodies and activities designed for kids such as a bush backpack (with sunscreen, a chap stick and a water bottle), activity booklets and an animal checklist with pictures. Slightly older children can become Junior Rangers through a course that includes lessons in identifying animal tracks, bird watching and plant identification.
Courtesy of Beau-Rivage Palace
Across from Lake Geneva, the Beau-Rivage Palace (dating from 1861) boasts exquisite gardens, refined service, a world-renowned spa and an elegant two-Michelin starred restaurant. Situated at the foot of the Swiss Alps, the location offers one of the most spectacular vantage points of Europe’s highest mountain range and the lake upon which it sits. But the hotel also offers a lineup of activities for kids, including a pastry making class. Kids can join the pastry chef to learn the art of making Swiss chocolates and other sweet treats.
Courtesy of Soneva Fushi
Soneva's resorts in the Maldives (Soneva Fushi and Soneva Jani) and Thailand (Soneva Kiri on Koh Kood island) are a true escape for families. Each of Soneva’s resorts offers a Children’s Den, where kids can play and learn. Activities include cooking classes, play time in the LEGO and dress-up rooms, reading in the library, learning to play local instruments, arts and crafts, learning Dhivehi or Thai (depending on the location) and learning about nature, recycling and conservation. When it comes to activities for the whole family Soneva has a varied selection of experiences to choose from such as a joint tasting evening where adults explore the wines of the world and children enjoy ice cream and chocolate pairings. Excursions to deserted islands with guided snorkeling and gourmet picnics can be arranged, while dolphin spotting cruises, astronomy lessons with Soneva’s resident Astronomers in the Observatory and private screenings at Soneva’s al fresco Cinema Paradiso bring the entire family together.
The five-star mansion hotel located across from Kensington Palace & Gardens, The Milestone Hotel & Residences offers a quintessential, yet pampered, London vacation for families traveling with kids. The staff go above and beyond to make every guest, including the kids, feel like royal VIPs, offering mini bathrobes and slippers, games, storybooks and more. The Children’s Etiquette with Peppermint the Polite Puppy Package features tailored programming for young hotel guests of three different age groups (4-7 years, 8-12 years and 13-17 years). Each guest will receive a plush puppy hand puppet of The Milestone’s mascot, Peppermint the Polite Puppy. Activities vary according to age group, but incorporate visits to neighboring attractions such as Kensington Palace, Victoria & Albert Museum and the Royal Albert Hall. The etiquette courses address a variety of topics including first impressions, posture, guest etiquette, and even proper social media decorum. Ready to show off those freshly polished manners? Might we suggest a visit to the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.
Courtesy of Club Med Punta Cana
At Club Med Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic, adults and children alike are invited to live a one-of-a kind
immersive experience at the resort, featuring unique activities inspired by the wondrous world of Cirque du Soleil. From artistic to acrobatic activities, guests will have fun, learn new skills from renowned performance artists and achieve things they would never have expected--such as aerial skills, lyra and flying trapeze.
Courtesy of Hotel Barrière Le Majestic Cannes
Inspired by Cannes’ setting as one of the film capitals of the world, little globetrotters at France's Hotel Barrière Le Majestic can take a seat in the director’s chair. They'll learn to compose their own movie soundtrack, study movie makeup or direct their own music videos.
Through Monte-Carlo's Hotel Metropole’s “Just For You” program, young travelers are taken back in time with the Paleo Kids program, which includes a private tour of Monaco’s Prehistoric Anthropology Museum. Kids will learn and have fun during a hands-on day: Hear from an archaeology scholar, attend an excavation workshop, take lessons on how to light a fire using flint stone and make your own pottery or jewelry.
Courtesy of Deer Path Inn
On Chicago's North Shore, Deer Path Inn offers a junior innkeeper program that gives younger travelers a peek behind the curtain of life at the inn. Highlights of the program include a “guest room selection” and a mock room inspection with the innkeeper, a special lunch with the inn’s staff, learning how to create turn-down treats with the kitchen staff and a takeaway bag of exclusive innkeeper essentials (including a customized mini name tag!).
Courtesy of HarbourView Inn
Head to Lowcountry, where the HarbourView Inn offers kids access to the South Carolina Aquarium to learn about Charleston's natural wonders, including the local ecosystem, wild birds of prey, aquatic animals and endangered species. As an added treat, stuffed sea animals are set out on kids' pillows upon arrival. At night, children can snuggle up with complimentary evening milk and cookies under the starry sky on the hotel’s private rooftop terrace, as a local historian teaches them about the region’s storied past.
Dubai’s five-star ocean-themed resort Atlantis, The Palm is home to 65,000 marine animals residing in the resort’s 3-million-gallon aquarium–one of the top ten largest aquariums in the world. But what really sends kids through the roof is the opportunity to meet with the resident Marine Educators and partake in Fish Tales tours with 20+ marine life exhibits, interactive touch tanks and a tour of the state-of-the-art Fish Hospital. Young guests will be happy as clams.
Move over sand castles. Sand sculptures, of all shapes and sizes, are the new attraction. At Casa Marina, A Waldorf Astoria Resort in Key West, Florida, advanced sand sculpting takes place on the resort's beach – the largest on the island. Kids will learn how to sculpt their favorite movie characters, from the Genie in Aladdin to Pikachu in Pokémon Detective Pikachu, with the guidance of the resort’s resident award-winning sand sculptor, Marianne van den Broek.
Kids staying at Costa Rica's Crocodile Bay Resort can learn more about some of the country's furriest and coolest rain forest friends by taking the Osa Sanctuary eco-tour. On it, they’ll get the rare opportunity to see and even interact with some of the local creatures, such as two and three-toed sloth to spider and howler monkeys to macaws, parakeets, and toucans.
Courtesy of Grand Resort Bad Ragaz
Switzerland's Grand Resort Bad Ragaz has a separate area where little water enthusiasts can make a big splash. The Family Spa is fun for everyone, without having to worry about disturbing other guests. There's plenty of room to splash around in the thermal water, and kids will enjoy the sensory water features. Young visitors can even try the beauty treatments, baby and toddler swimming classes and mermaid swimming.