I learned a valuable travel lesson now that I have a toddler. “Family-friendly” doesn’t always include toddlers! Travel with children to some luxury resort destinations and you get the feeling that kids are an afterthought. Childcare and babysitting services can be non-existent or grossly overpriced and amenities and services are solely focused on adults. To help you make the most of your precious family vacations, toddlers included, we’ve traveled the world in search of the best resorts for families with toddlers. These resorts offer more than just a craft area, a playground and a children’s pool. From a wide range of exciting activities tailored to the different age groups of children to a child-sized buffet bar equipped with plastic silverware, mini plates, a mini drink fountain and bite-sized, kid friendly foods, these resorts have thought of everything to make your vacation truly family-friendly. Here are our top 6 bucket list resorts for families with toddlers.
Top 6 Bucket List Resorts for Families with Toddlers
All of Jamaica offers a casual, carefree atmosphere, but the moment you walk into Beaches Negril Resort & Spa you feel that laid-back vibe that works well with families. Add 18,000-square-feet of Pirate Island water park, and Beaches Negril becomes a family haven of fun in the sun. The Kids’ Club offers age age-appropriate activities for kids of all ages, from tots to teens. All nannies and Kids Camp staffers at Beaches Resorts are members of the International Nanny Association, America’s oldest and largest in-home childcare association. To become accredited, each nanny must meet the minimum requirement of 2,000 hours of child-care services. Additionally, the nannies have been trained in safety, nutrition and child development. They offer programs for infants, toddlers, pre-teens and teens. Besides the Kids Club, kids will love the variety of small ways the resort caters exclusively to young tastes, beginning with self-serve ice cream. Sesame Street characters are featured throughout the property, from parades to stage shows, and children can enjoy such “sunny day” activities as baking with Cookie Monster and bird-watching with Big Bird. For mom and dad, treats range from certified nannies to golf and a full-service spa. Everything you can possibly imagine is beachside at Beaches Negril.
Take your family South of the Border for some Club Med-style family fun. The charming Club Med Ixtapa Village quickly woos kids and parents with its seemingly endless roster of activities for all ages. Situated on 37 acres along Mexico’s western coast, Ixtapa plays host to over 20,000 visitors a year, 60% of whom are under age 11. A variety of clubs are designed to entertain children throughout the day. Divided by age groups, Baby Club, Petit Club and Mini Club keep kids ages 4 months – 13 years busy with outdoor activities, shows and crafts. Ixtapa offers adult activities including tennis, scuba, archery, kayaking, water polo, volleyball and picnics.
The all-inclusive Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort in Fiji assigns a private full-time nanny to each child younger than 5 at no extra charge. The complimentary Bula Club operates from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily for infants to 12-year-olds, offering conservation-oriented pursuits like snorkeling and mangrove planting. Parents can use the free time to unwind at the yoga pavilion, explore the island’s rain forest and markets or take a short boat ride to dive the world-famous Namena reef, a protected marine park created by Fijian chiefs and home to some 1,100 fish species. Other diversions include kayaking Savusavu Bay, fishing for marlin and mahimahi, and a low-tide reef walk accompanied by a marine biologist. The 17-acre property has just 25 accommodations, all traditional thatched-roof bungalows with decks, overhead fans and daybeds.
Set on a St. Lucia beach, Cotton Bay provides Montessori-certified nannies for two hours a day – free! Additional nanny services are available upon request for an extra charge. The Hummingbird Kids’ Club is also open daily for children ages six months to three years. Summer activities are planned in their “Going Bananas Fun” program. Family packages are typically offered, allowing children to eat for free, and providing educational tours to area attractions. One of the nicest draws of Cotton Bay is its luxurious villas, complete with separate rooms for parents and children, not to mention living rooms, dining rooms and kitchens.
Although best known as a ski destination, Whistler is a great place to take the family for a warm weather getaway. Kids will love paddling a canoe downriver to an authentic ghost town or joining a professional researcher in a four-wheel drive vehicle to view black bears. Naturally, Avello Spa and nearby Jack Nicklaus- and Arnold Palmer-designed courses will appeal to parents, but there are plenty of activities that are sure to thrill all ages, including fishing, hiking and horseback riding. The hotel also offers Whistler Kids at the Westin (eighteen months to five years), Teddy Bear Daycare (30 months to five years), Summer Adventure Camp (five to ten years) and the SPG Kids Pass, an all-inclusive dining program with children in mind. For those who decide to buck the summer vacation tradition and head here once the snow falls, there are miles of ski trails for all levels.
I saved the best for last. Kinderhotel is the most toddler-friendly, all-inclusive property that I’ve visited. It’s a family-friendly Paradise that truly understands the needs of families with younger children. Kinderhotel offers kids club for children as young as infants to age 16. Kinderhotel provides age-appropriate childcare and many exciting opportunities based on strict paedogogical standards. In addition to ensuring your child’s well-being, they provide a wide range of exciting activities tailored to the different age groups of children. Their all-inclusive gourmet dining includes a generous breakfast buffet, a selection of delicacies at lunch, a cake, ice cream, and snack buffet in the afternoon and changing themed buffets in the evening. All non-alcoholic drinks from the fountain are available around the clock for free! Then there’s a child-sized buffet bar equipped with plastic silverware, mini plates, a mini drink fountain, and bite-sized, kid friendly foods all within her reach. There are 145 guest rooms including 80 family suites that provide everything from nursing pillows, baby bath tubs, step stools, baby wipes, and even strollers. The brilliant facilities include a swimming and sauna complex with panoramic views, indoor and outdoor pools, giant whirlpool, children’s “Splashing Around the Farm” pool, Germany’s longest hotel water slide (128m), several themed saunas, and a panoramic relaxation room. Most impressively is the 2000m² of indoor play area with a theatre, cinema, gym, go-karting, soft play area, and year-round skating rink. Outdoors, guests enjoy a climbing forest with 15 stations and a mini zoo with alpacas, rabbits, donkeys, ponies, ducks and birds. For both adults and children, there is scheduled hiking, walking, snowshoeing (in the winter), and fantastic ski and hiking areas with free ski passes in winter and free mountain cable car in summer. They even offer toddler ski courses and weekly in-house theatre performances.
Have you visited a truly toddler-friendly resort that caters to children under the age of three? It’s an oddity. Please share your favorite resorts for families with toddlers below so other families can experience them for themselves.