Let’s be honest, a hotel can make or break any vacation. What does it take to be one of the best family-friendly resorts? Kirsten Maxwell of Kids Are A Trip asked the rest of the Gnational Gnomad team to share their choices and elaborate on what it takes to make a property stand out from the rest. Here are their choices for the best family-friendly resorts around the world.
Family-Friendly Properties in Europe
Nissaki Beach: Naxos, Greece
We’ve stayed in a lot of amazing family-friendly hotels around the world, but the one we keep returning to is the low-key Nissaki Beach Hotel on Naxos, Greece. There’s no kids club, and there aren’t scheduled kid activities. There’s no lazy river or water park. It’s simply a family-run boutique hotel on a wonderful Greek island – and it’s perfect.
We love it for the room setup (the 2-unit suite works great for our family of 5) and the location – within easy walking distance of town. The pool is small but perfect for us, and the hotel is right on one of our favorite beaches in the world, with shallow water that goes out forever. Very kid-friendly! And the hotel’s restaurant on the beach is one of the best on the island, where the kids can play on the beach or even in the water if they want until the food comes. It’s also one of the few places in the world where we’re 100% comfortable with the kids leaving the hotel and wandering around town on their own. (Eric at Travel Babbo)
Martinhal Cascais Family Hotel: Cascais, Portugal
Martinhal Cascais lies just an hour from the Portuguese capital of Lisbon, but offers a completely different experience. Located between two golf courses and not far from the local beach and town, the property goes above and beyond the definition of family friendly. Martinhal has a kids’ club for ages 6 months to 9 years and a massive outdoor playground space for everyone. During the summer there are tween and teen clubs offering age appropriate programs. The outdoor space has a giant in-ground trampoline, zip lines, basketball and soccer courts, swing sets, and playgrounds. There are also several pools and a spa on property.
Accommodations come in the form of deluxe rooms, suites, and villas. All units are extremely spacious and made for families. The larger rooms have fold down bunk beds with rails that kids will love.
Martinhal offers a baby concierge that provides cribs, high chairs, monitors, gates, bottle warmers, and everything families might need on vacation. They even have menus for babies in their restaurants. The property truly thinks of everything and plans activities for kids so parents can have time for themselves. What more could families ask for! (Kirsten at Kids Are A Trip)
Favorite Family Resort in the United States
LEGOLAND California Resort: Carlsbad, California
LEGOLAND California Resort is the perfect place for LEGO lovers of all ages! From the lobby where kids can enjoy thousands of LEGOs in the LEGO pit, to the on-site LEGO pirates playground, there is definitely more than enough to keep the kids entertained.
Booking a room on the second floor or above also means that you’ll be able to ride in the LEGO elevator and dance to music as you go up to your destination. Each room also comes equipped with a mini LEGO scavenger hunt that ends in special LEGO treats just for kids. And if that’s still not enough for your little LEGO lovers, take advantage of the bucket of LEGOs in each room — it’ll keep them entertained as they watch TV in their very own space! (Pattie at Living Mi Vida Loca)
Nickelodeon Hotels and Resorts: Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
It can be hard to find the right balance of luxury accommodations and amenities for parents. Kids want nonstop fun on vacation too, while parents don’t want an overstimulated kid at the end of the day. Somehow, Nickelodeon Hotels and Resorts Punta Cana created the perfect balance in the Dominican Republic.
By incorporating those iconic Nickelodeon orange and green colors into the decor, but leaving out the cartoon characters and cheesy extras in the rooms, parents can feel like they are in a high-end resort and actually relax in a resort targeted at families. The swim up pool suites are great for families looking for a little privacy, but the beach is really where you will want to be. The main pool leads out to the beach with restaurants flanking both ends. All restaurants take food allergies seriously, making it easy for families to relax, no matter their dietary needs.
But where are Sponge Bob and all his friends? They are safely tucked away across the street at Nickelodeon Place, along with the other sports activities so your blissful retreat is not disrupted by any midday character dance parties. While there is a character breakfast at the resort, you won’t see many signs of Nickelodeon shows at the property. Kids can go off to the kids club for a little alone time with their friends, or hit the AquaNick water park (the major attraction at this resort) with their families. Babies through teens will love bringing their parents down to the Nickelodeon Hotels and Resorts Punta Cana for some fun in the Caribbean sun. And don’t worry mom, they have a pretty fabulous spa just for you, too. (Keryn at Walking On Travels)
Mexico Fun with the Family
Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta
The Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta is an all-inclusive resort positioned right on the beach, giving you easy access to included activities, like kayaking and snorkeling. Pick up an activities calendar listing events, like beach volleyball, tropical dance lessons, and cooking demos. If you time it right, you might see a sea turtle release. For foodies, choose from six different restaurants, casual to fine dining, all serving kid-friendly meals, as well.
The Kidz Club, open from 9 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. is the spot to be for children 4-12. It features a beach playground, turtle habitat, as well as movie and video games for taking a break from the sun. (Kelly at Fun, Food, & Faraway Places)
Grand Velas Riviera Maya
Grand Velas Riviera Maya all-inclusive luxury resort is one of the most kid-friendly resorts in Mexico. The resort offers two complimentary kids clubs for ages 4-12, a teen club for ages 13-18, mini golf, multiple pools, and a rock climbing wall on site. Families traveling with babies are pampered by a baby concierge who makes sure they have everything they need, including a crib, stroller, baby bathtub, baby food, pacifiers, toys, bottle warmers, and more! Parents can take a break over in the adults-only section with a pool and beach, while kids are having fun over in one of the clubs! (Meagan at Mommy Travels)
Asia Getaway with Kids
Holiday Inn Bali Banoa
Bali has a plethora of amazing family hotels. You’ll find the choice hard. However, most families find themselves heading to Nusa Dua, in the Southern part of Bali. Here the resorts live on the beach.
One of the best family hotels I found in Nusa Dua was the Holiday Inn Bali Benoa. Why is it so family friendly? Well, for a start the rooms at the Holiday Inn have had lots of thought put into them. The Tanjung Family Adventure Suite has 81 sqm of space and the kid’s room is decorated with loads of color and comes with a few treats like a PS4.
Then there is the Kids Club for 4 to 12 year olds. The property includes activities like Balinese dress up, mocktail making, pizza baking and so much more. My kids never wanted to leave, but when they did it was to play on the water slide and to dump buckets by the pool, build sandcastles on the beach or try their hand at fruit carving with the staff. The efforts Holiday Inn Bali Benoa have gone through to make sure their youngest guests are happy is outstanding. (Erin at Explore with Erin)
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