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Long gone are the days of being dragged around on vacation by your parents. The lucky next generation of jetsetters are starting off as VIPs with some over-the-top amenities to enjoy. While your own childhood vacations may have involved being wedged in the back of the family station wagon between your sister and the dog on road trips, the landscape for traveling with kids has unmistakably evolved (and you’ve hopefully upgraded to one of today’s best luxury hotels).
A growing number of top hotels and resorts are no longer merely tolerating the younger set, instead they are enticing families with a range of amenities designed just for them. Many are offering thoughtful touches meant to make parenting on the road a little easier — cribs, baths, babysitting services, and organic baby food — while some are pulling out all the stops to appeal to their youngest guests with entirely over-the-top programmes and treats. Read on to discover six properties from London to Nantucket that will leave your kids spoiled rotten.
1. Belmond Maroma Resort & Spa
Riviera Maya, Mexico
For kids who need to unwind from the stresses of sports and school, the award-winning Kinan Spa at Belmond Maroma Resort & Spa on Mexico’s glimmering Riviera Maya has just the thing. The Bee Pampered children’s treatment includes a honey facial and a foot massage designed especially for tiny toes. The treatment also lets little ones get in on all of the farm-to-(spa) table action, as the honey, which has strong anti-microbial and healing properties, is harvested from the spa’s own hive of friendly, stingless Melipona bees, which are native to the region. In addition to some hard-earned R&R, kids will also take home a Meli, a Melipona bee stuffed-animal, as a memento of their sweet morning at the spa.
2. Ashford Castle
County Mayo, Ireland
Set on a 350-acre estate in County Mayo, Ireland, the 13th century Ashford Castle debuted its US$75 million (RM311 million) restoration back in 2015. Upgraded, adult-friendly amenities like a cigar terrace, a spectacular, mosaic-bedecked spa and wine cellars with the capacity to store 600 bottles is catnip for adults, but they didn’t forget the small set, either. Children are welcomed to the property with personalised cookies and homemade apple juice and endless entertainment comes in the form of a new 32-seat movie theatre that shows family-friendly movies and on-site activities includes tennis and falconry (this is a country estate in Ireland, after all). Board and card games are also on hand, but for a little extra fun and fanfare, dial zero from your plush room’s phone to summon the property’s Lego Butler. Kids can choose from a menu of options that include Cinderella’s Castle and Medieval knights, and the butler will deliver the box of building bricks on nothing else but a silver tray.
3. Claridge’s, The Connaught and The Berkeley
Families checking into Claridge’s, The Connaught or The Berkeley — all part of London’s luxe Maybourne Hotel Group — have the option of booking a bespoke experience for their little ones through a partnership with children’s adventure planners Sharky & George. During the British Museum Quest, for example, parents and kids are led around the iconic art and history museum on an adrenaline-fueled mission to uncover the stolen Rosetta Stone. The highly orchestrated outing includes actors staged throughout the museum that interact with the group as they decipher codes and uncover clues along the way. The two hour adventure guarantees an educational and memorable visit—and ensures that they’ll never be able to stand visit a museum the normal way again.
4. Belmond Napasai
Koh Samui, Thailand
At Belmond Napasai, located on the Thai island of Koh Samui, when those aged three to twelve need a break from frolicking on the private sandy beach or splashing in the dedicated children’s pool they can join the breezy tropical resort’s My First Job programme. Curious kids can choose from a list of “careers" for a seven-hour day of work experience. Children can take a flower arranging workshop led by the hotel’s florist, whip up chocolate roses with the head chef, learn how to paint polish perfectly at the Napasai Spa, or feed the resident farm animals and plant papaya trees with the grounds team, among other equally engaging (résumé-boosting) options. They may be on vacation, but it’s never too early to learn the value of a day’s work.
5. White Elephant
Nantucket Island, US
Situated right next to Nantucket’s aptly named Children’s Beach, the casually elegant White Elephant welcomes parents with plenty of intuitively helpful amenities like bathtubs and bottle warmers. But kids will love their tailored touches too, ranging from beach toys gifted at check-in to cupcake decorating sessions and a whimsical in-room camp out where you forgo the actual wilderness in favour of a faux campfire and a tiny teepee. Kids can cozy up for the night in mini robes, order popcorn, and watch a movie from the resort’s library—all without sacrificing access to air conditioning and indoor plumbing.
6. Belmond Hotel Caruso
From its perch overlooking the Amalfi Coast, the Belmond Hotel Caruso, set in an 11th century palace in the hills of Ravello, has plenty to inspire guests: think frescoed walls, vivid tiled floors, breathtaking panoramic views of the Tyrrhenian Sea. This creative energy is not lost on young guests, as the resort’s Create Your Own Movie programme will let kids can tap into that inspiration. With guidance from a professional filmmaker, movie buffs in training will learn how to direct and star in their own holiday movie trailer, plotting out narrative, scenes and a soundtrack for a true sibling bonding opportunity set against a backdrop of an Italian paradise.