When the holidays are behind us, many of us get through the grit of winter by having a family vacation to look forward to. Pre-children, heading out into a foreign county with no plans and no itinerary may have been exhilarating. Fast forward a few years, and with children in tow, the last thing you want to be doing is navigating through unfamiliar subways, wasting time driving from point A to point B, and searching for restaurants to accommodate certain picky eaters. Nobody wants to “need a vacation after a vacation”.
All-inclusive resorts can take plenty of the stress away that comes with regular vacation planning. With plentiful options for activities on site and meals included, you can spend less time “planning”, and more of your time “doing”.
With so many choices of destinations and resorts, how will you determine which is the right fit for your family? We’ve done the research for you, and below are five of the best all-inclusive resorts for families.
The Yucatan Peninsula is home to a rich culture and gorgeous white sand beaches, making it one of the most visited destinations in the country.
Club Med has 71 successful resorts all over the world that specialize in family friendly resorts, and their Cancun location is no exception.
The Resort boasts 60 Family Club and Deluxe rooms with separate bedrooms for children and parents. The most outstanding advantage this resort offers is children under 4 stay free! They also cater to little ones by providing most of the equipment parents would normally dread lugging around: Baby baths, changing mats, and baby food prep. Babies and toddlers can be enrolled at the new Baby (4-23 months) or Petit Club Med (2-3 yrs). Mini Club Med welcomes 4-10 year olds in adventures and activities, as well as entertainment.
For older children and adults alike, you can treat yourself to an acrobatics adventure at Club Med’s Trapeze School. Snorkeling, wakeboarding, windsurfing, waterskiing and sailing are just a handful of options included in your stay.
Don’t forget your much-needed adult-relaxation time though. Moms and dads can get in their “me” time at either of the resorts two private beaches, or lounging by one of the pools. The Wellness Centre offers spa packages that can include facials, body scrubs, hot stone massages, and more.
A variety of restaurants and bars will keep the whole family content, with special “baby corners” of most restaurants dedicated to baby food and all the prep tools to go along with it.
This Caribbean resort has been named Travel and Leisure’s “World’s Best Hotel for Families in the Caribbean” for 2014. You and your family can choose from four unique “villages” that make up the resort. There’s the Caribbean Village, described as a garden oasis with a seaside view; the Italian Village with old world charm with a tropical twist, the Key West Village with casual elegance, and the French Village, a Caribbean paradise with a French accent. A total of 19 specialty restaurants on-site makes it possible to please everyone in your family.
There’s so many activities at this resort, you may not be able to do it all! Babies and toddlers will delight at the Sesame Street characters in the “Celebrate Friends” show where audience participation is encouraged. The characters are also featured in a “Carnival Celebration Parade”, complete with Carnival costumes and Junkanoo music. For hands on activities, little ones can get creative at puppet making with Bert and Ernie!
Included in your stay is access to the Pirates Island Waterpark, the Caribbean’s largest waterpark, complete with adrenaline-pumping waterslides, water cannons, a lazy river, and the Caribbean’s only surf-simulator.
Or hit the turquoise waters on the beach and take a spin on one of 270 specialty boats. You can also try your hand at paddle boarding, waterskiing, kayaking or windsurfing. Most impressive is the resorts unlimited scuba diving with certified Green PADI experts. Discover a whole new underwater world and swim with some of the most unusual tropical reef fish and ocean life.
A luxury tropical paradise awaits you in this Riviera Maya resort. Each room has a modern, sleek design, and either a private balcony or terrace. Paradisus prides itself on its “Family Concierge” program, which includes a special Kids Beach Kit at check-in, kid’s pillows, kid’s drinks in the minibar, and nightly turndown with milk and cookies. They also provide Playstation, Nintendos and Xbox 360’s on request. The best part? Kids under 4 stay free!
During the day, the youngsters will enjoy the “kids only” pool, playground, and supervised Kids Camp. In addition to water activities such as snorkeling and beach volleyball, you can also choose from some unique activities like Tango lessons, meditation, fitness classes, arts and crafts workshops, and vacation scrapbooking. The whole family can take advantage of the group excursions the resort provides to the nearby Mayan ruins, Tulum and Chiche Itza.
Paradisus specializes in world-class cuisine, so you can be sure everyone will delight at the choice of restaurants and bars on-site. While the kids are having fun at Kids Camp, you can sneak away and have an adults-only dinner at Fuego, a South American Gastro Pub serving seafood and featuring a raw bar. Then whisk away to Blue Agave, a nightclub specializing in creative Tequila and Mezcal cocktails. Other restaurants on site offer a range from Mediterranean to Asian Fusion, and everywhere in between! Or if you’d rather have a relaxing meal in the comfort of your own pajamas, the 24 hour room service is just the thing for you.
This Caribbean gem uniquely combines two resorts in one- giving guests the option of staying at the “Adults Only” Harmony oasis, or at the family friendly “Splash” tropical playground. The Splash wing features rooms with bright pops of color designed for families, and views overlooking Cocoland, the resort’s water park. By day, kids can enjoy the lazy river, waterslides, and activity pool complete with a pirate ship. Family water activities include snorkeling, kayaking, paddle boarding, and kite surfing. A variety of land activities such as yoga, soccer, bocce ball, and dance classes are available. Older kids and adults can have a blast in “The Zone” a new paintball facility on 25,000 square feet of space!
The Cocoland kids club is divided into three age groups, and provides more fun activities including a rock climbing wall, mini zip line, nature walks, crafting, talent shows, and movie nights. Parents are provided a complimentary local cellphone to communicate with staff at any time!
Also available at an additional cost are Segway tours, Jeep Safari’s, and wildlife walks. Or try an exotic excursion to Des Cartier Rainforest Reserve, or to the town of Soufriere, where you can experience the world’s only drive-through volcano!
For a truly unique family experience, rent a log cabin nestled in the beautiful mountains of Buffalo, Wyoming, at this classic dude ranch. Paradise Ranch was established in the early 1900’s, and continues to be a haven for families during the months of May through September. Rates include lodging, activities, and three meals a day. You have your choice of a one to four bedroom cabins, with modern conveniences and a fireplace to cozy up to at night. Most cabins include washer and dryers, full baths, and kitchenettes. No need to worry about the mess-a housekeeper is provided so that you can spend your valuable time with your family.
The ranch provides a weekly schedule to families so they always have a variety of activities to choose from. Children age six and up can participate in the Horseback Program, with counselors customizing the lessons to fit each child’s needs. The program provides flexibility, so that kids can choose to take short lessons, or even full-day rides with breathtaking mountain scenery and a picnic lunch. For the more advanced rider, you can experience the ranch’s private rodeo arena with special team penning classes.
If you prefer your feet on solid ground, take advantage of the plethora of nature surrounding the ranch and join the hiking program to take in the abundance of wildlife. Take a hike led by an experience naturalist guide into Bighorn National Forest, through Crazy Woman Canyon, or to the Seven Brothers High Mountain Lakes. The lakes are also a popular spot for fly fishing, another unique program offered at the ranch!
The ranch’s award winning kids program focuses on combining nature and fun. There are pony rides, arts and crafts, a talent show, a kid’s fishing derby, and even overnight camp-outs.
For children 2 and under, an on-site babysitter is available daily from 8:30 a.m. to noon.
No matter the destination, the importance of a family vacation is enriching your relationships by spending quality time together with the ones you love. Unplugging, taking a break from rules and responsibilities, helps you gain some balance in our usually hectic lives. Think of your vacation as an investment, a chance to create lifelong memories, and a gift to yourself and your family.
For more information on these resorts, or for help planning your dream family vacation, contact Beth Driscoll at (619) 929-2126 or visit: www.cruiseshipcenters.com/BethDriscoll