Luxury resorts are devising increasingly innovative offerings for children, meaning an inspiring time is had by all the family. The below may get you wishing you were young again
Not so long ago swish hotels would shudder at the thought of sticky-fingered children making their reception look untidy. Nowadays, savvy hoteliers have cottoned on to the fact that happy children mean happy mums and dads, who are therefore more likely to return year after year (ker-ching!). But forget the bog-standard kids camp, we’re talking sophisticated activities that make sure that the little ones have a truly inspiring time. Here’s my top ten.
Be royalty for the day
At Lanzarote’s Princess Yaiza Suite Hotel in Playa Blanca (princesayaiza.com), little princesses can be pampered alongside mum, with a special kiddie-friendly chocolate massage and volcanic stone facial. The beachside resort has opened its 50 treatment room spa to the over sevens and has specially designed each of the treatments with younger guests in mind.
Meanwhile, at Duke’s Hotel in London (dukeshotel.com), children are treated like royalty from the minute they check-in. The Mini Dukes and Duchesses package includes home-baked cookies and Belgian chocolate milk on tap while a concierge lays out a brand new ‘duke’ or ‘duchess’ outfit for them to wear. When dressed up, they can then enjoy a special mini afternoon tea in the drawing room, while later on they can choose their supper from a Juniors’ menu in the hotel’s restaurant Thirty Six by Nigel Mendham.
Learn how to be a magician
While Mum and Dad kick-back in the serene gardens belonging to the magical Jnane Tamsna in Marrakech’s Palm Grove (i-escape.com), the kiddies can conjur up magic of a different kind. The exquisite 24-roomed country villa actively welcomes children and keeps them entertained by teaching them magic skills, juggling, gardening and crafts while parents can laze by the pool, or treat themselves in the traditional hammam.
At South Africa’s malaria-free Eastern Cape, the Kwandwe Private Game Reserve (kwandwe.com) offers the ultimate in adventure for younger guests. While parents will be more than happy with the family-friendly lodges, featuring vast bedrooms, a dedicated play area, arts and crafts kits, sweetie jars, pretzel pots and an interactive kitchen, where staff tempt children in to learn to cook, the kiddies will no doubt be more in awe of the huge range of activities on offer. From treasure hunts to spotting giraffe and zebra on safety-conscious safari drives (for even the smallest guests), poo safaris to minnow fishing, it’s the stuff that little ones dream about.
Be the next Gordon Ramsey
Perfect for fussy eaters and little foodies alike is the new ‘globe-trotting foodie adventures’ at the acclaimed Explorers Children’s club at Daios Cove, Crete (daioscove.com). Overseen by children’s food expert and writer Fiona Faulkner, in partnership with Scott Dunn, the package offers delicious menus featuring dishes such as Slumdog Soup, The French Platter Picnic and The Cowboy Chow-down. Known as the ‘Harry Potter of Vegetables’, Faulkner has devised cookery workshops for all the family, cookie-making and bread baking sessions, as well as introducing children to fruits and vegetable indigenous to Greece. Located on a hillside overlooking its own private beach near Aghios Nikolaos, the 5-star Daios Cove is now even more family friendly, having launched brand new two- and three-bedroom family villas.
Strike a pose
Sometimes it’s not just mums and dads that need to unwind. If school has got too much for the little darlings then take a trip to Kempinski Hotel Barbaros Bay (kempinski.com/bodrum). Its award-winning Six Senses spa has introduced Mini-Yoga for children aged six and above. Led by trained yogis, children can learn the basics of yoga, such as breathing techniques and elementary poses, through the use of imagination and storytelling. While they’re mastering the art of the downward dog, parents, meanwhile, can flop out on the pristine beach or around the glistening infinity pool.
Get jammin’ in Jamaica
Renowned for its warm Jamaican hospitality in a jaw-dropping setting in Montego Bay, Round Hill Hotel truly incorporates the kiddies into local culture with its reggae lessons (i-escape.com). While you tuck into the jam and scones at the relaxed afternoon tea in the Ralph Lauren cocktail bar, your aspiring musician will be jamming away in the kids club. What’s more, children are encouraged to stage talent shows so you can see if you’ll be taking home the next Bob Marley.
Have an under-water adventure
Perfect for little fishes are the unique diving experiences on offer for children at the luxury Conrad Maldives Rangali Island (conradmaldives.com). Normally an activity confined to adults, the chic six-star hotel has gone the extra mile in offering children, from the age of five, their first underwater breaths alongside the reefs of the its lagoon. Beginning with a SAS (Supplied Air Snorkelling) course for five-year-olds, near the coral gardens of Ithaa, the world’s first all-glass undersea restaurant, children can then graduate, once confident, to diving the amazing reef alongside the resort’s island, known as one of the world’s best diving spots. If that’s too much excitement for some younger guests, then can head instead to The Ice Cream Spa, a dedicated kiddies spa fashioned like an ice cream parlour and offering six ice-cream flavoured spa treatments. They’ll never want to go camping again!
Be an eco warrior
Inspiring your young ones doesn’t have to be confined to hotels, teach them to act responsibly by signing them up to a mind-boggling marine adventure while onboard an exotic cruise. Created by Jean-Michel Cousteau (son of legendary Jacques Cousteau), the Ambassadors of the Environment Youth Programme takes place on selected Paul Gaugain cruises around French Polynesia (pgcruises.com). Under the guidance of expert Ocean Future Society naturalists, children aged nine to 17 will get the chance to explore coral reefs, learn about volcanic islands and forest ecology, experience Polynesian culture, hike rainforest trails and visit marae (ancient Polynesian temples). Parents, meanwhile, can relax onboard or join in with their children if they wish, smug in the knowledge that their holiday is proving educational too.
Search for hidden treasure
It’s VIP all the way at Villa San Michele in Florence (villasanmichele.com) with younger guests taking part in private treasure hunts in some of the city’s most famous museums. Designed to immerse them in the rich culture of Florence, the hotel has enlisted the services of a private guide to lead youngsters around the Uffizi Museum, the Boboli Gardens and the Palazzo Vecchio museum looking for hidden treasures. If that’s not enough to keep them entertained, they can also visit chocolate workshops and try their hand at ice-cream making at the famous Vivoli ice-cream factory. Food for thought.
Invest in their future
Finally, if you are staying at an Oberoi signature property in India (oberoihotels.com) any time soon, then you can shape your offspring’s career path with the group’s Oberoi Experiences, especially for the kids. Among the offerings is the Young Hoteliers Programme in which children are taken on a ‘behind the scenes’ tour of their hotel, including various ‘back office’ departments to garner an understanding of how hotels operate. Other offerings include a Junior Chef Programme and kite-making workshops, in which kiddies are taught to make traditional Rajasthan kites. Perfect for high flyers.
This article was commissioned for the November issue of Kensington & Chelsea Magazine. It’s out now…