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Top 10 Luxury Hotels * Kid Friendly

A list of the top 10 luxury hotel kid-friendly perks might sound strange at first. Aren’t 5-star hotels for couples, rather than kids and families? Think again–even some of the most luxurious hotels you can imagine now offer kid-friendly services and amenities, helping make it a true vacation for mom and dad, not just a “change of scenery.” In fact, I’ve noticed that the more luxurious the hotel, the more personalized and kid-friendly the amenities. Here’s our roundup of some of our favorite kid and family friendly luxury hotel perks.

1. Complimentary Kids’ Club

Your best chance of some true relaxation is if your kids can make a few new friends and have some fun of their own. Normally you expect to pay for the privilege of a well-run kids’ club, but the Four Seasons Kids for All Seasons program, available at resorts, is complimentary to guests. My son loved the Kids for All Seasons program at the Four Seasons Bali at Jimbaran Bay and didn’t want to leave! Other Kids for All Seasons programs that garner rave reviews include the Four Seasons Koh Samui and the Four Seasons Hawaii at Hualalai.

Free Kids Club

2. Clean beach and ocean

A great, clean beach and ocean (hopefully warm!) can be one of the best kid-friendly aspects of luxury resort. This can be a real challenge at popular, mass market destinations, so seek out a more remote luxury resort if you care about how pristine and unpolluted the beach and ocean is for your kids. The Park Hyatt Maldives is primarily targeted toward couples, but staff was friendly to kids and the beach and ocean were simply beautiful.

Clean Beach and Ocean - Park Hyatt Maldives

3. Kids eat free (and well)

Have hungry kids? You’ll be glad to know that if you book a Club Level Room at the Ritz-Carlton, kids under 12 staying in their parents’ room are allowed complimentary access to the Club Lounge, with its 4-5 food and beverage presentations each day. Most other club lounges also offer complimentary access for kids, but watch out: some, usually of independent or more boutique type properties, do not permit kids at all in their club lounge. So check this before you book.

Even if you’re not staying on Club level, resorts such as the Four Seasons Maui at Wailea offer free meals for kids age 5 and under in the resort’s Ferraro’s and DUO restaurants when accompanied by a paying adult.

Free Meals for Kids 5 and Under at Ferraros Four Seasons Maui Wailea

4. Complimentary pastry class (aka let them make cake!)

Kids learn by doing, and what could be more fun than learning to make their favorite treats behind the scenes with the hotel’s pastry chefs? Below is our son having fun preparing mini madeleines at the Four Seasons Hotel George V, Paris. Now, if only the kids could successfully replicate these exquisite treats at home…

Kids Pastry Lesson - Four Seasons Paris George V

5. Yummy welcome treats 

See a trend here? The way to many a kid’s heart is also through food, including delicious and whimsical welcome treats that are just for him or her. For example, pictured below are welcome goodies from the Mandarin Oriental San Francisco, with a cable car full of candies, fresh berries, and chocolate chip cookies. The plate was even adorned with my son’s name written in chocolate.

Welcome Treats at Mandarin Oriental San Francisco

6. Stuffed animal

You may not be able to bring your child’s entire menagerie of stuffed animals while traveling, but many of the most luxurious hotels present your child with a new stuffed animal friend, either at check-in or waiting for him or her in the room. Here’s a ladybug stuffed animal from Hotel Fouquet’s Barriere in Paris, a well-known haunt of celebrities right on the Champs-Elysees, but also wonderfully child-friendly.

Stuffed Animal at Hotel Fouquets Barriere Paris

7. Dedicated kids’ pool or kids’ hours

One of the biggest sources of friction at hotels with a pool is between childless adults and honeymooners vs. families with kids. A dedicated kids’ pool or kids’ hours solves this problem nicely and lets everyone enjoy pool time. The Four Seasons Hualalai is incredible in this regard, with not only a Keiki (children’s) Pool for young kids, with a white sand bottom, but also the Sea Shell Pool as a family pool for older kids and their parents, and King’s Pond, an aquarium carved out of lava rock with over 3000 tropical fish and spotted eagle ray where kids and parents can snorkel, watch fish feedings, and enjoy touch tank exploration. Plus, there are four other pools, including adults-only pools and a lap pool, keeping everyone happy!

Kids Pool - Four Seasons Hualalai Sea Shell Pool

8. Child-size bathrobe and bath slippers

Kids love to feel grown-up, and their own child size bathrobe and bath slippers makes them feel just as special and valued as a guest as mom and dad. Plus, you can even take the slippers with you as a memento and to use at home. All cozy in his own bathrobe at the Four Seasons Seattle:

Child Size Bathrobe - Four Seasons Seattle by Fire Pit

9. Back of House Tour 

If your kid is anything like mine, he or she is always trying to figure out how things work, and find secret, hidden spaces that they’re probably not supposed to be. Well, the Four Seasons Paris has kids all figured out, and actually offers a Back of House Tour specifically for kids to discover the hotel’s hidden doors, elevators, and secret passageways. Just ask the kids’ concierge to help arrange it!

Kid-Friendly Perks - Back of House Tour Four Seasons Paris

10. Bubble Bath

What kid (and even many an adult) doesn’t love a bubble bath? Forget bath salts, bubbles are so much more fun for kids! Here’s my son enjoying probably his best bubble bath ever at Amankila, in Bali:

Bubble Bath at Amankila Bali

What are your favorite kid-friendly luxury hotel amenities?

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Top 10 Islands in the World

Popular travel review site TripAdvisor has come out with the results of its annual Travelers’ Choice® awards. Among them are the awards for the best islands in the world. Wonder which ones made the top 10, according to the opinions of TripAdvisor readers? Then read on…

1. Ambergris Caye, Belize Cayes

For the second year in a row, Ambergris Caye takes top honours. The beautiful Belize island offers the perfect blend of modern development and laid-back tranquillity. A mangrove swamp is the eye of this white beach island, the largest in Belize, and golf carts are the main form of transportation along the sandy roads. Reef divers drool over the Belize Barrier Reef and the Blue Hole, a 400-feet deep circle of limestone that teems with angelfish, Elkhorn coral, cleaner shrimp and stalactites.

Ambergris Caye

2. Providenciales, Turks and Caicos

Scuba diving, horseback riding, sunbathing… take your pick. “Provo” offers plenty for the happy couple to do, including picture-perfect coastlines to walk along, hand in hand. The island itself is relatively tranquil; try Malcolm Beach to get even further away from crowds.

3. Bora Bora, Society Islands

The relatively small island of Bora Bora is an activity giant, offering visitors the chance to experience a 4×4 safari, sunbathe and swim at white sandy beaches, dive in a natural underwater park among fish and corals, experience thrilling shark feedings, or circle the turquoise lagoon by boat. And Bora Bora is a superlative romantic spot. Fall captive to this lush gem of a Polynesian island by sharing an intimate midnight dinner on the beach; visiting the Lagoonarium, the Diving Centre, the Coral Gardens or the Leopard Rays Trench; or taking it all in from the lofty heights of 2,300-foot Mount Otemanu.

Bora Bora

4. Marco Island, Florida

Marco Island is the perfect destination for those who crave a peaceful retreat but don’t have time to travel too far off the grid. The jewel of Florida’s Ten Thousand Islands, Marco Island’s soft white beaches overlook the sparkling waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Scavenge for seashells or hit the links for a sunny session of golf. Explore the Everglades in a swamp buggy or enjoy a rejuvenating nature hike at the Rookery Bay Reserve.

5. Lewis and Harris, Outer Hebrides

A visit to Lewis and Harris is like stepping into the pages of a Scottish fairy tale. In Lewis—the northern part of the island – the legendary Callanish Standing Stones poke up from the ground like a strange and massive rock city. The Blackhouse, the Shawbost Norse Mill and Kiln, and the Carloway Broch all offer a peek at what island life used to look like. In southern Harris, the east side beaches boast some of the oldest known rocks in the world, dating back millions of years. Cruise over to the volcanic islands of St. Kilda to explore the ruins of a medieval village.

6. Naxos, Cyclades

A spot of white in the turquoise waters of the Aegean Sea, the island of Naxos is a unique blend of ancient ruins and beach culture. The largest of the Cycladic Islands, Naxos is the childhood home of none other than Zeus, king of the gods. Upon arrival in Naxos, hike over a causeway to Palatia, where the Portara, a stone gateway to an ancient temple that no longer exists, stands alone, the symbol of the island. At sunset, the views of the island, and the sea beyond, are breathtaking.

Naxos

7. Aitutaki, Southern Cook Islands

This small island encased in a triangular barrier reef boasts incredible lagoons. Relax with a intimate picnic on the alabaster beach of one of Aitutaki’s minor islands, uninhabited and lined with swaying palm trees. Despite its heartbreaking beauty, Aitutaki isn’t (yet) flooded with tourists, due to its relatively difficult-to-reach location. For off-the-beaten-sandbar holiday-making, Aitutaki is a prime destination, especially for those seeking unbridled romantic ambiance.

8. Nosy Be, Antsiranana Province

“Nosy Be?” Is that a typo for “Noisy Bee?” Nope. It means “big island” and it is just that; a large island off the northwest coast of Madagascar. Here you’ll find volcanic lakes, lazy lemurs, rum distilleries, Ylang Ylang plantations and intricate coral reefs that are practically begging to be explored. Flora and fauna lovers will be in seventh heaven at the beautiful Lokobe Nature Special Reserve. Audiophiles should visit in May, to experience the four-day Donia Music Festival.

9. Easter Island, Chile

Located in the South Pacific more than 2,000 miles off the Chilean coast, Easter Island’s not the easiest place to reach. (If you’re interested, the easiest access is by air from Santiago or Tahiti.) But isolation has helped preserve the 1,500-year-old mysterious congregation of volcanic rock sculptures (maoi) that’s the island’s biggest claim to fame. After exploring the unique landscape, relax on an uncrowded beach and ponder one of the most mysterious places on Earth.

Easter Island

10. Ko Tao, Surat Thani Province

Drifting serenely in the Gulf of Thailand, the palm-fringed island of Ko Tao takes its name from the abundant sea turtles that reside on its shores. White sand beaches sheltered by steep hills – some only accessible with four-wheel drive vehicles – and 300 days of sun per year invite long afternoons of lounging.

Do you agree with this selection or are there other islands that you think are more deserving of making the top 10?

 

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