A hotel kids’ club is a vacation essential for many families. The good ones entertain kids in a meaningful way while giving parents the opportunity for some much deserved quiet time together.
(Photo credit: Wendy Piersall)
Know, however, that there’s a wide variety of kids’ club offerings and the wrong match for your family could mean the difference between having it as a valuable resource and not using it at all. It’s also good to know that kids’ clubs are offered most frequently at resort properties in beach, rural, or mountain settings. It’s rare to find a robust kids’ program at a city hotel. That said, here are some useful factors to keep in mind about hotel kids’ clubs:
* All supervised kids’ clubs have a minimum and maximum age range. In the United States, a standard offering is for ages 5-12. Some programs take younger kids, while others offer teen-focused programs. Age-related rules are a good thing, as it means children are more likely to be engaged in age-appropriate, stimulating activities.
* Most – but not all – programs require that kids be potty trained. International hotels offer more options and may even take infants in a nursery setting. If you have an infant or toddler and are comfortable with group care, a kids’ club is less expensive than using an in-room babysitter.
(Photo credit: Mac Hotels)
* Programs may require parents to be present. Some hotels offer planned activities for families, but don’t offer standalone, supervised group childcare.
* Pricing varies. Participation may be complimentary or require per-session or per-day fees. Pricing is all over the map, but expect to pay anywhere from $20 to $70 per session (or day) per child.
* Activities may include swimming. This may or may not be suitable (or safe) depending on the set-up of the program. Know the plan and ask questions so you can opt-out, if needed. For more information about this issue, see my article about swimming safety at hotel kids’ clubs.
(Photo credit: K. Sawyer Photography)
* For a kids’ club to be a viable option, it has to be guilt-free for you – meaning, you feel good about having your kids participate. As a rule of thumb, the more activities they do that relate to the destination and are special activities they can’t do at home, the better. Programs that focus on video game playing or TV watching may excite your kids, but they won’t get anything out of it.
Here are a few examples of excellent kids’ clubs from the Room 77 portfolio:
The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman – Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands (Rates from $849)
This luxury resort on the famous Seven Mile Beach offers Jean-Michel Cousteau’s “Ambassadors of the Environment” program, where children are engaged in eco-tours focused on teaching deep appreciation and respect for nature. Find out more with Ciao Bambino’s family-friendly review of The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman.
Terranea Resort - Rancho Palos Verdes, California (Rates from $350)
Located on the stunning Pacific Ocean bluffs in Southern California, Terranea Resort offers outstanding kids’ programming at the Tide Pool Kids Club. Themed days ensure every day feels different. Creative, hands-on activities take advantage of the expansive setting. Our son begged to go back each day. Check out Ciao Bambino’s comprehensive family-friendly review of Terranea.
(Photo credit: Terranea Resort)
The Westin Ka’anapali Ocean Resort Villas – Maui, Hawaii (Rates from $429)
This condo resort on Maui is a family favorite, with a camp-style kids’ club focused on learning about Hawaiian culture – from lei making to hula dancing. Read Ciao Bambino’s comprehensive family-friendly review of The Westin Ka’anapali Ocean Resort Villas.Google+