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Top 10 Family Resorts 2005

Imagine 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 barsfor kiddie menus and video arcades? These ten exclusive properties are proof that you can have the best of both worlds.



Best 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.



This 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 settingthe elegant architecture dates from 1887 to 1902children 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).



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.



Sophisticated 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.




This 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 yardyou 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.



The 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.



While 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 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 hotelpart 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.



This beautifully designed Indian Ocean resorta tasteful interpretation of tropical Zenhas 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 windsurfing.




Round ‘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 rusticcan 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. Yee haw!

NOTE: 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)

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