a world in which Eloise at The Plaza is the norm: heavenly,
but unrealistic. Kids are rarely that self-sufficient
or sophisticated, so family holidays tend to forego
posh lodgings for Club Med Petit-Clubs and themed Disney
hotels. Why sacrifice luxury and exotic locations—as
well as adult favorites such as spa treatments, championship
golf and stylish cocktail bars—for
kiddie menus and video arcades? These ten exclusive
properties are proof that you can have the best of both
SHANGRI-LA'S FIJIAN RESORT, YANUCA
known as a destination for romance, the Fiji islands
are in fact a great place to take kids. Sun, sand and
nannies: what more does a family need? Answer: The Little
Chief’s Club. While the folks take advantage of
the dive center, massages and nine holes of golf, kids
can hang out in the children’s park and enjoy
excellent activities: face painting, fish feeding, Mad
Hatter’s parties, swimming races, beach cricket
and storytelling. They’ll even tackle a bit of
the Fijian language, too, and perhaps learn how to build
a sandcastle or catch a crab before the day is through.
A nice touch: fresh baby food can be prepared by the
resort chefs on request.
JEKYLL ISLAND CLUB HOTEL
sprawling National Historic Landmark recalls an era
when families closed up the house and went away for
the entire summer. The setting is lovely: an oak and
palm-dotted barrier island off the coast of Georgia.
But no matter how genteel the setting—the
elegant architecture dates from 1887 to 1902—children
are more than welcome. Club Juniors caters to kids with
bicycle safaris, crabbing, sand casting, tideland trips
and dolphin cruises. For mom and dad, pursuits range
from refined (croquet and massages) to recreational
(golf and horseback riding).
HILTON WAIKOLOA VILLAGE
A world unto itself, this resort is
terrific. It has nine restaurants, two golf courses,
a mile-long museum walkway and a four-acre manmade lagoon
stocked with Atlantic bottlenose dolphins. Want to spend
the day indulging in spa treatments or scuba diving?
Drop the kids off at Camp Menehune, reached by canal
boat along one of the waterways. Each day crafts, games
and water activities revolve around a theme: Polynesian
Pirate (treasure hunting), Hawaiian Day (painting coconuts),
Volcano Adventure (exploring lava flows) and more. There
are also evening programs, such as Friday Night Luau,
so that parents can enjoy a night out on the town.
KICHWA TEMBO TENTED CAMP
safari camps are de rigueur, and this is one of the
best: The spacious, Hemingway-style tents are bush chic,
the candlelit bar is the perfect place to enjoy a sundowner
and the Big Five game viewing (especially the night
game drives) are unforgettable. So, how do the kids
fit in? Quite well. As a member of Conservation Corporation
Africa, the camp offers excellent children’s activities,
including fishing, frog safaris, bark rubbing expeditions,
paper making, bug collecting, storytelling and even
“pooh walks.” Fun for all: hot air ballooning.
The camp is located below the Oloololo Escarpment of
the Great Rift Valley, with gorgeous views of Masai
Mara’s game-filled plains.
OUT ‘N’ ABOUT TREESORT
property may not be as luxurious as the others on this
list, but it’s definitely the most unique. These
treehouses (each is an individual lodging) are the real
thing. You’ll have a hard time dragging the kids
home, although you may be able to lure them with the
promise of building a treehouse in your back yard—you
can learn how at the Treehouse Institute. Activities
for one and all include tree-climbing lessons on the
52-foot Histree (you rappel down), rafting, whittling,
blacksmithing, tie-dying (this is the land of Ken Kesey,
after all) and even underwater basket weaving. Dogs,
chickens and horses add to the atmosphere.
beachfront setting offers views of the baths of Aphrodite.
The architecture recalls a Byzantine village. And some
of the glamorous, Mediterranean-style suites come with
private plunge pools. There is a Thalassa Spa, private
sailing yacht and four restaurants (the resort has its
own organic farm) just for you. And for your offspring:
the Smiling Dolphin Children’s Club. Along with
supervised playrooms, a partially shaded kid’s
pool and special menus with early mealtimes available,
the club features unique activities like cooking classes
and introduction to scuba diving.
JUAN, PUERTO RICO
THE RITZ-CARLTON HOTEL, SPA & CASINO
many luxury hotels offer a kids' club of some sort,
it can be difficult to find one with a “club”
for adults. It’s no surprise that this property
has a great program for children, including water sports,
spa treatments, puppet design classes and Spanish Just
for Me lessons; but it also provides more than the usual
diversions for mom and dad. Along with tables for candlelight
dining and massages, it features tables for baccarat
and blackjack. In fact, the casino here is The Ritz-Carlton’s
first. Add sand castle sculpting, nanny service, an
art collection, swanky Caribbean/ European décor,
spa products from the El Yunque Rainforest and access
to five great golf courses, and you have a playground
for all ages.
THE ICKWORTH HOTEL
name of this place alone will give kids something to
giggle about. As for the actual property, it’s
a serious tribute to English country living. This National
Trust house was created in the late 18th century, and
the east wing (where accommodation includes a Marquis’s
bed chamber and a butler’s retreat) now serves
as a hotel—part
of the Luxury Family Hotels group, which unites historic
lodgings with family-friendly features. Four Bear’s
Den offers supervised play for little ones so you can
take a riding lesson at the original stables or a treatment
at Aquae Sulis Spa, and CLUB/BLU offers diversions for
older kids, although we suggest keeping them away from
the PlayStations and X-boxes in favor of biking, nature
walks and exploring the estate, which is sure to spark
Harry Potter-esque play.
LE TOUESSROK HOTEL MAURITIUS
beautifully designed Indian Ocean resort—a
tasteful interpretation of tropical Zen—has
four excellent restaurants, a golf course, a PADI diving
center, a Givenchy Spa and even its own private island.
For children there’s a Robin Hood-themed club
hidden away in a “Kids Only” section of
the property. A treehouse, pool and special restaurant
where kids can bake cookies are just the beginning.
Activities for younger ones include fishing, hiking
and stargazing, while distractions for teens range from
photo safaris to undersea walks. Guests of all ages
are treated to complimentary water-skiing, sailing and
THE HF BAR
‘em up and rope ‘em in at this 9,000-acre
working ranch on the border of Bighorn National Forest.
The second oldest dude ranch in the country, it features
26 individual cabins, all built during the ranch’s
heyday. They’re authentic and rustic—can
your kids live without TV? The children’s program
is comprehensive, with nature hikes, scavenger hunts,
overnight camping trips and arts and crafts. Along with
the expected horseback rides and pack trips, adult activities
include massages, yoga, sweating (in the sweat lodge)
and fly-fishing. Fun for all: hayrides and cookouts.
Keep in mind that most children’s clubs have age
limits and some clubs are operated only in high season.
(Updated: 08/01/13 CT)