Let’s say you’re a working parent. Five days a week, you’re in your office, working from morning until afternoon. You wake up, make coffee and head off to work only to emerge from your office building at close to sundown. You deal with deadlines, phone calls, emails, paperwork, and even more phone calls that by the end of the day, you feel exhausted. When you get home, you prepare dinner, help your kids with their homework and then it’s off to bed for you and the little ones. Eight hours of shuteye (if you’re lucky) and you’re off to work again.
With a busy schedule like that, it’s natural for parents to want to take some time off away from work and spend some quality time bonding with their kids. Going on a vacation with children can let parents catch up on their kids’ lives and get to know them better. For parents spending some time abroad with their kids in tow, it’s important to stay in a hotel where kids will have fun, instead of getting bored.
Nowadays, there’s an increasing number of hotels that cater to families on holiday. These places often have features that are geared towards children, to make sure they still have fun during their vacation down time. Some hotels have playrooms where kids can play games and get rowdy, or even tree houses where they can pretend to be off in an adventure of their own.
Although these hotels are a fun place for kids to stay in, adults are also guaranteed to enjoy time here. The management in these hotels go to great lengths to make sure that their accommodation will suit not only children, but also the sophisticated tastes of moms and dads. Parents need not worry about the hotel looking like a McDonald’s Playhouse.
Here are a couple of hotels you and your kids might want to check out.
The Karma Kandara is located at the southernmost tip of Bali, in Indonesia. If you want to go on a swimming vacation in the waters of the Indian Ocean, book a couple of nights here with your kids. The resort sits on top of a massive cliff that offers a wonderful view of the vast ocean. There are a number of luxurious villas here that you can choose from. You can even opt for a private villa so you and your family can spend a happy, isolated holiday on the beach.
Kids are sure to enjoy a ride on the inclinator, which takes guests from the pool all the way down to the Nammos Private Beach Club, where they can have fun in the sand.
There is also the Karma Kids Club, which is open for children from two year old tots up to 12 year old pre-teens. The club has a number of activities to keep kids busy and entertained. Your little ones can join other curious children on organized treasure hunts around the compound; or they can learn how to make Balinese puppets and masks that are unique to this country. There are also dance sessions to help your kids find their groove; and junior cooking classes so they can learn the ways of the kitchen and make tasty treats, too.
There are two swimming pools in the area. Keeping a watchful eye on all the swimmers especially the young ones is a lifeguard on duty from morning until the afternoon.
There are also special kiddie meals served to the hotel’s younger guests. Included in the menu are Harry Potter English Muffins, Thomas the Tank Chicken Nuggets, and Incredible Hulk Grilled Cheese Sandwiches. With these dishes to choose from, you won’t have to coax your kids into finishing what’s on their plates. Yum!
A tip to parents: if you want an hour or two alone with your spouse for a bit of romance, ask the front desk about booking a professional, trained babysitter.
This sprawling compound housing a country resort and spa occupies 113 acres of rural lands in Connecticut. There is a big farmhouse constructed in the colonial style. Guests can choose from 18 individual cottages that were designed by 15 top architects. Each cottage is different from the other, and the entire place is open for visitors to roam free and get lost in the wilderness.
In the Charter Oak Cottage, touch the trunk and branches of a real live oak tree that grows through the cottage.
If your children are used to the city life and are worried about being bored, there are a number of activities in Winvian that will help them get in touch with nature. Near the area is the 4000-acre White Memorial Foundation that is accessible to all of the guests staying at Winvian.
Families can follow the trails and go hiking around the area; there are also bikes that kids and adults can rent, if you want to be able to cover more ground. For a more traditional ride, saddle up in one of their horses and go horseback riding; this is an ideal family activity especially during the summer. In the autumn, gather the colorful leaves to make a pile of leafy art; and in the winter time, travelers who came all the way from tropical countries can enjoy snow-shoeing. Visit this place in the spring and inhale the wonderful smell of the roses in bloom!
Blue Mountains Private Safaris Luxury Swag Camp (Australia)
Get introduced to wild bush luxury as you get ready to camp out in the land down under. Here, parents have the chance of camping out with their kids in a place that’s worlds apart from their backyard. The private camp and featured safaris are specially designed to wow their guests with the exotic scenery, and expose their ears to the many different sounds of the bush. Watch a real, live kangaroo take a drink by the river, or listen to the chorus of the kookaburras.
If your kid is not the outdoorsy type, don’t be too anxious because at the Blue Mountains, you’ll be camping in style. There may not be a lot of the amenities that you will find in a five star hotel room (two words: no appliances), but the management certainly did not skimp on pennies when it comes to providing luxury accommodation. For your bed, you get a deluxe sleeping mat with 100 percent cotton linen. A cozy, warm duvet is provided so you don’t get the chills when it gets cold at night; and then there are soft pillows for you where you can rest your head.
Did we mention that your canopy is an intimate night sky dotted with bright, twinkling stars? Drift off to sleep as you think of the heavenly bodies above and the wild animals below. Kids can search the sky for the different constellations, and this time, they won’t be looking at glow in the dark stars plastered on the ceiling.
Share your family meals around the campfire, where incidentally the food will also be cooked.
You might ask: what about when nature calls? Ah. We know what you’re thinking and no, you don’t need to squat under a tree in case you need to relieve yourself. The camp has private toilets and showers complete with hot water.
Families can get a taste of the English countryside right here at the Ickworth Hotel. The grounds are specifically designed with children in mind. Kids of all ages can roam free at the parkland—all 1,800 acres of it.
At Ickworth, there are coaches who can teach your kids how to play tennis. Who knows, maybe your child has potential to make it big in Wimbledon? If your child is particularly fond of animals, you can also go horseback riding; which is another outdoor activity popular with the English. There is also an indoor swimming pool which is heated to make swimming more fun and enjoyable.
The half-mile walking route is ideal for kids aren’t up for long, arduous treks. When the weather is warm, the staff put up a big trampoline on the terrace where kids can bounce up and down to their heart’s content (personally, we think this is brilliant).
Rent a bike and go cycling with your kids for a fun way of getting exercise. Fathers can bond with their sons by going fly fishing over at Larkwood. A mere 10-minute walk from the countryside is a fishery where you can catch your own trout.
For something a bit pricey but surely unforgettable, families can take flight on a hot air balloon. For a whole glorious hour, look down below at the trees and inhale the fresh air from hundreds of feet off the ground.
If your kids are aged 10 and above, navigate the giant obstacle course constructed way up in the trees. Go on the longest zip line in the country, which goes for 426 meters.
Hapuku Lodge and Tree Houses (New Zealand)
Kids can live out their fantasy of sleeping in a tree here at the Hapuku Lodge. The tree houses are constructed a good 30 feet (about 10 meters) off the ground. The rooms are nestled in the Manuka grove, which is native to the area. Every single one of the tree houses will give you a view like no other of the massive mountains and the blue coastline.
Not only do the guests get the unique experience of sleeping in a tree house, they are also brought closer to nature. There are three types of tree houses that you can choose from, but we recommend the Two Tree Houses if you plan on bringing your kids with you.
The Two Tree Houses are specifically built for families. Inside, there is enough space for all members of the family, and is far from being cramped. For the grown ups, there is the upper bedroom, where at the end of the day, they can have some privacy and a good night’s sleep without the little ones jumping all over the bed. For the kids, there is the lower branch tree house (a.k.a. the lower bedroom) that will serve as their quarters
The tree houses have big windows that let you look out at the beautiful foliage. Step out onto the terrace and you’ll come face to face with a number of leafy branches. After spending some time here, we think you might even be inclined to hug a tree and think twice about using non-recycled paper material.
The Chateau de la Couronne has a dramatic exterior; with big, wide windows, tiled turrets and a tower to boot. Inside, kids will be delighted to discover that this is actually a pretty cool castle.
Let’s start with the salons. There are three salons in the Chateau de la Couronne namely the Stone Salon, White Salon and the Piano Salon. The Stone Salon is a perfect place where kids can hang out and play games or lounge on the long black couch. The White Salon is ideal for bookish children who like to snuggle with a short novel; while the Piano Salon can let children tap into their musical side. This room has a number of instruments that guests are free to use and make lovely music with, such as the keyboard, drums and of course, the piano. There are amps here too, so don’t think the music is restricted to snoozy tunes.
There is also a private cinema, with a screen measuring 2.5 meters or about nine feet. When you’ve taken your pick from the numerous DVDs displayed here, sit back, raise your feet, and enjoy the movie in surround sound.
Teens can go to the billiard room and try out the full size pool table any time of the day and even at night. Meals at the chateau will always have a special touch because of the dining halls dramatic stone walls and high ceilings. Let us not forget the swimming pool where you and your kid can practice a few laps; and the five acre park with neatly trimmed trees.
Estancia Vik Jose Ignacio (Punta del Este, Uruguay)
The Estancia Vik Jose Ignacio is a ranch conveniently located just a few minutes away from the coast of Punta dl Este. It is a beautiful place that shows off unique Uruguay architecture and also beautiful pieces of Uruguayan art.
There are a number of activities that you and your children can do while staying here. Saddle up and go out into the field for a polo lesson from the local experts. Take a nice, long dip in the pool while watching the mooing cows off in the distance. If the scenery manages to draw you in, you can go horseback riding around the grounds and chase a couple of ostriches.
Sample the ice cream at Freddo and share a scoop or two with your kids. For a fun, family meal, you can eat al fresco beside the beach; or exchange jokes and songs while huddled around a bonfire. Satisfy your sweet cravings by taking a big bite out of your waffle covered in chocolate and decadent whipped cream.
Parents who want to get tap into their inner child can engage in a paintball war with their kids, or rock it out and combine old school with modern technology by playing Nintendo Wii. If you want to play board games with a twist, try the Spanish Monopoly or the Spanish Twister.
For a bit of art and culture, you can view the paintings displayed at the Galeria Sud or conduct your own wine tasting of the different reds and whites from South America.
Villa Bordoni Hotel and Restaurant (Tuscany, Italy)
Out in the beautiful Tuscan countryside is the Villa Bordoni Hotel and Restaurant. The villa has ten rooms to accommodate its guests, whether they’re young or old. Every room is furnished with satellite TV and LCD television, so you have all your channels even in this part of the world, and you get to watch your shows in style. Guests also need not leave their rooms if they want to access the internet, or watch a movie on DVD.
Within the compound, there is a big library where parents can finally spend some quiet time reading a book or browsing through a magazine. Outside, kids can jump in the swimming pool that is neatly surrounded by olive trees. If you feel like exploring a bit, you can rent a bike and venture into the countryside. You can also visit the local stables and ask the staff about renting a horse so you can go horseback riding.
The restaurant’s dining rooms open into a beautiful Italian garden with wonderful smelling roses and ancient stone walls. You can sample different wines along with the delectable meals. You can have the bean soup with marinated octopus while your child can get the baked pork with honey sauce.
This is a beautiful seaside resort located all the way in the eastern part of the globe, Thailand. The water is very clear and shallow, which is ideal for kids who want to go snorkeling. Otherwise, the beach is the perfect place for children to build their sand castles, or take a walk along the shoreline. You can lounge under the sun and get a tan, or test your sea legs and go for a swim. You can also have a picnic on the beach while people-watching.
Gather your kids into the car for a short drive to see the Namtok Raman waterfall. Whip out your waterproof camera and take a picture near the rushing waters. There is also another nearby waterfall that you can check out, which is called the Namtok Tao Thong. This would be a bit further, about 19 km from the town of Phang-nga. If you trace the source of this waterfall, you will come across a steady stream that flows out of a deep, dark cave.
For some hot springs, you can also visit the Ban Bo Dan Hot Springs right by the Andaman coast. You can also travel to the Mu Ko Similan National Park and go diving with your kids. The park actually consists of nine different islands set close together. See the coral reefs and colorful fish, and watch out for the mysterious, deep gorge.
What’s good about this place is that it has big, spacious rooms where you won’t feel cramped or claustrophobic with your kids. The hotel even has special packages that are offered specifically to families on vacation. When you wake up in the morning, you can enjoy your breakfast by the poolside. Families can bond together by renting bikes and going off on impromptu excursions. There is a heated pool for your enjoyment, and it is also set outside so you can enjoy the sunlight while swimming.
As things wind down in the evening, you can chill out and watch a movie with the whole gang. For an added treat, cookies and milk will be specially delivered to your quarters every night with the complimentary family movie.
The suites are bathed in warm, inviting colors that give a homey vibe instead of a generic hotel atmosphere. The Lanai Suite, which is perfect for a family on a holiday, is complete with a 50 inch high definition television, wireless internet, and did we mention your own living room, office space and kitchenette?
If you don’t feel like going out, you can chill indoors with your kids and play checkers or backgammon.
Kids won’t have trouble choosing their order from the menu. The Ocean Lounge dining hall of the hotel offers different kinds of pizza, fries and also a number of shakes (we recommend the toasted coconut or the toasted marshmallow in vanilla ice cream). They also serve a grilled cheese sandwich, which uses four different types of cheese, and tacos.
The hotel is just a quick walk from the beach and the Santa Monica Pier, so it’s the ideal place to stay if you want to have fun outdoors but retire in a comfortable room.
if not, come back tomorrow on journeyetc.com and see what's new :)