There always seems to be a sacrifice when planning a vacation with kids—either your own time, by booking that family-friendly, all-inclusive resort in lieu of that new design hotel you’ve had your eye on, or your kids’ time, by booking the design hotel that bores them to death or confines them to an outdated kids club playing Duck, Duck, Goose. While an all-inclusive resort is less glamorous, it just seems easier—but ultimately, neither of these options encourages parents or kids to get the most out of their vacation.
Fortunately, many luxury resorts and design hotels are catering to the postmodern family so that no one’s vacation feels like a sacrifice. From immersive and educational kids’ clubs to on-site cultural activities, these five luxury hotels are designed with kids in mind and will encourage independent travelers and young hedonists alike. After all, travel’s true luxury is its ability to enrich, educate, and reinvigorate us, so why not let them experience it the same way we do?
Located on a hillside in the northwest coast of Crete, the newly opened Casa Cook Chania is the first of its kind in the Greek Islands to cater to the needs of a postmodern family. The hotel’s bespoke kids concept was developed by leading figures in child education and family travel, with an aim to encourage little ones to learn and explore in immersive ways. From cooking and painting classes, to sleepovers in a Bedouin-inspired teepee, there are plenty of opportunities for children to make new friends and explore in a natural and creative environment. Along with an array of activities, the Beach House kitchen offers a variety of healthy dishes for children that fuse local ingredients so the kids can immerse themselves fully into the Cretan culture. (Sorry, no chicken fingers here!) “Our kids club is all about encouraging children to learn through experience and exploration, tapping into their creative side and ultimately ensuring they have fun while on holiday. We use some Montessori techniques, a number of the activities are self-directed and we encourage collaborative play between children of different ages and nationalities,” says Casa Cook Chania’s Kid’s Club Manager, Theodora-Maria Nikolozaki. “It’s important that children have new experiences on holiday which is why we focus on Greek and Cretan culture.”
From the lush landscape to the food and wine, Tuscany is always a sensory overload in the best way. At Rosewood Casiglion del Bosco, the kid’s club, Rosewood Explorers, encourages children to participate in cultural and educational activities where they can experience Tuscan heritage for themselves. At Rosewood Explorers, they’re able to participate in activities like adventure training in the woods or imaginative yoga classes. The hotel also offers Tuscan landscape painting classes in a half-day workshop. To top off the day, little ones can participate in astronomy under the stars with the estate’s astronomer.
If the adults had a playground, it would be the Maldives... or do we simply call that a refuge? This isolated, tropical oasis in the middle of the Indian Ocean is known for its white-sand beaches, reefs, and blue lagoons—making it the perfect place to enjoy peace and tranquility. While the adults relax, the kids at JOALI have a range of immersive activities to fill up their days, from kids-only snorkeling trips with the hotel's staff marine biologist and Native storytelling with a local narrator, to interactive treasure hunts that use their imaginations to find buried treasure. When they need a break from the sun, they can participate in JOALI’s Junior Chefs program and collaborate in the kid-friendly kitchen, or partake in self-cafe at the Kids Spa, which offers services like natural masks, hand and foot care, and hair styling. (Costumes are also provided for further celebration on inner-beauty and adventure!) The day tops off with a visit to La Joie, the resort’s ice cream and chocolate shop featuring over 60 flavors.
One might not expect that children would have much to do at Aldo Melpignano’s Borgo Egnazia, a cultural gem in the heart of southern Italy, but as rewarding as the stay is for adults, the same goes for children on the property. The Trullalleri Kids Club offers an innovative program that allows kids to learn about the customs and culture of the region through immersive activities that highlight Puglian culture. From visits to La Fattoria di Emma e Maria (Emma and Maria’s Farm, a nearby pasture with donkeys, ponies, chickens, and other farm animals the kids can meet) to traditional cooking classes that focus on local dishes like homemade pasta, kids can integrate themselves into the local culture while interacting with children from other countries.
While the Smoky Mountains’ top luxury resort Blackberry Farm is an excellent place for couples and families alike, it’s an especially exciting place for young, independent explorers. With the Blackberry Youth Discovery program, the activities at Blackberry Farm are endless. Children have a long, eclectic list of outdoor activities to choose from, such as archery, farm animal care, and canoeing. They can also participate in more creative activities like ceramics and jewelry making classes, as well as gardening. Additionally, the extensive Adventures Series program offers dynamic and educational hiking opportunities to indulge in stream exploration, geocaching, and orienteering while learning about the wildlife of the Smokies.
Originally Appeared on Architectural Digest