22nd August 2018
How about some caviar and champagne while your children enjoy the waterslide? The finest luxury resorts in the world are now competing to impress families with the coolest kids’ clubs. In the past, you might have shuddered at the thought of taking your little ones to an Aman resort or a private island in the Maldives. But now, luxury hotels are making sure kids have the time of their lives with tailor-made treasure hunts and movie nights under starry skies.
Indeed, resorts once designed for honeymooners and spa junkies are going all out to please parents and pint-size travelers. Chalk it up to the millennial effect: Singles who not so long ago were seeking out exclusive experiences for themselves now have kids they want to pamper, too.
Roland Fasel, chief operating officer at Aman, explains the transformation that his brand has witnessed: “Families represent one of our largest-growing segments. There has been a major shift away from valuing material gifts, with parents viewing travel and experiencing new cultures as a means of enriching their children and broadening their horizons.”
Sonu Shivdasani, cofounder and CEO of the swanky Soneva properties in the Maldives, says, “The majority of our guests are repeaters, and we have watched them return, first as honeymooners, then with their families.”
In response, Soneva Fushi created The Den, a playground for the imagination with a yoga meditation master on staff and a marine biologist who organizes sleepovers on nearby islands for older kids. Also at the resort is an observatory with special programming for youngsters and a glass-blowing studio where children can watch world-famous artists at work.
Other posh resorts are shifting focus, too. Spain’s Marbella Club Hotel opened a kids’ club set in founder Prince Alfonso Hohenlohe-Langenburg’s former villa. Children can learn flamenco dancing, cook with produce from the organic garden and create perfumes with local scents.
Leo Ghitis, owner of Costa Rica’s Nayara Resorts, believes so strongly in this market that he is creating a safari-style lodge dedicated to families: Nayara Tented Camp, opening in 2019. The concept is to teach children about wildlife and how to protect it. “We make it relevant and fun at the same time,” Ghitis explains.
The only challenge with this new breed of kid-focused hotels and clubs? Our kids might not want to come back home with us!
By Mia Ljungberg Nevado
Experiences: “It’s not the size but the quality that matters,” says Julie Danziger of Ovation Vacations. “You want a club that encourages kids to try something they haven’t done.”
Sense of Place: “Seek out a kids’ club that offers a connection to the local culture,” says Monique Thofte of Passported.
Disconnection: Search for clubs that encourage kids to turn off electronics.
Relevance: Make sure there are age-appropriate activities.