If you’re planning a getaway for the family this summer, you might be looking at resorts with the word “Disney” in them. No offense to Mickey and friends, because spots like Honolulu’s Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa, and Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa offer fine upscale vacation options for every member of the family.
But if you’re looking to do a little something different this year, and especially if that involves soaking in some local culture and/or exploring new and unexpected terrain, it may be time to think outside the Mouse House. The good news is that today’s luxury seekers and globetrotters have a wealth of choices when it comes to pampering their pack. Many top resorts and hotels worldwide are going out of their way to cater to the little ones, with amenities and extras that are so enticing you may want to join in.
Didn’t think Machu Picchu was an option with kids? The Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel, one of National Geographic’s Unique Lodges of the World, might change your mind. This luxury ecotourism boutique hotel offers plush adobe casitas surrounded by 12 acres of gorgeous gardens, waterfalls, fluttering butterflies, and 214 different bird species including exotic birds—perfect to incorporate into one of the hotel’s treasure hunts. Kids can also explore the world’s largest native orchid collection, with an amazing 372 species, learn to make their own tea at the on-site tea plantation, and even visit the Andean Bear Conservation Center at the hotel, established to rescue, study, and rehabilitate these native bears. The hotel’s UNA spa also offers kid-appropriate spa treatments using natural products and local botanical extracts.
You’ll get all the Ireland country grandeur in this 13th-century castle located on a dreamy 350-acre estate in Cong, with modern amenities woven in thanks to a $75 million restoration in 2015 (resulting in a Robb Report Best of the Best designation). The cigar terrace, spa, 600-bottle wine cellar, and the deluxe queen rooms overlooking the lush Lough Corrib and Parterre Gardens will get your attention, while the kids will love the warm welcome served up with personalized cookies and homemade apple juice. At the castle, they can see a family-friendly movie in the theater, play tennis, participate in children’s afternoon tea, take a golf lesson, go on a treasure hunt, and learn falconry. We can bet their favorite part will be picking up the phone in your sumptuous room and ordering from the extensive Lego menu. Yes, a Lego Butler will arrive at your door, Legos in tow.
Here, you’ll find five-star luxury, especially when you choose one of the spectacular Ocean Front Family Pool Suites. Enjoy the natural beauty that permeates every inch of the resort, abundant on-site restaurants to quench any craving, and the location that’s minutes from Royal Phuket Marina, which makes exploring Phang Nga Bay easy. Of course, the kids may not want to leave the resort! Water sports including kayaking, paddle boarding, and windsurfing are complimentary, and so are on-site activities like daily Thai language classes, tennis lessons and other fitness offerings, and Thai dancing. There are also cooking classes and even an on-site turtle shelter. The enormous kid’s pool (with water slide!) gets even better with poolside popsicles. Don’t miss the fire lighting ceremony with fire dancers and drummers every Saturday.
You’ll love the beach butlers, the couples massage lesson, and the gourmet food options, including fresh veggies grown on site in the resort’s greenhouse. You’ll also love all the amenities that are specifically designed to keep your kids happy and entertained, like movie nights, the Nickelodeon Experience where they can dine with SpongeBob, and the Azulitos Playhouse by Nickelodeon, a play space for children four to 12 years of age with My Gym equipment and developmental toys and organized fun activities. Everything you need for a new baby is provided with the resort’s Gourmet Inclusive® amenities, from monitors and bottle warmers to gourmet baby food.
Pamper your kids at the Vassa Spa, which has special treatments for those five to 17, including mani-pedis, teen facials, and makeup and hair styling lessons. Your teens will also love the Extreme Breeze Teens Club, a dedicated spot for them to hang out and meet new friends, with snacks and refreshments, movies, billiards and air hockey, and daily organized activities. There are a number of luxury accommodations perfect for families, but we’re partial to the Premium Swim Up Suites, which allow you to slide open the terrace doors and jump right into the pool.
Fiji for families? At the Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort, the answer is a resounding “Yes!” This luxury resort located on Vanua Levu, Fiki’s second-largest island, pampers the little ones with everything from the Bula Club, a free kids’ activity club offering games and educational activities, swimming (with separate kiddie and toddler pools), zip-lining, trampolining, and arts & crafts. There is also a “Junior Chef’s Program” that uses the resort’s organic garden for fresh produce, and perhaps the best part: The resort assigns a personal nanny to each child under six from 9am to 9pm everyday (kids between ages 6 and 12 have a “Fiji buddy” in small groups. Deluxe oceanfront two-bedroom bures are the perfect options for families, with two separate bedrooms and a massive deck featuring magnificent views of Savusavu Bay, and, as would be expected from a resort boasting the Cousteau name (the founder is the son of famed French explorer Jacques Cousteau), marine sports including kayaking, snorkeling, and scuba diving are abundant, while the calm bay waters make swimming a favorite choice for kids.