Posts Tagged ‘unusual family travel ideas’

Not Your Typical Family Summer Vacation

May 25, 2011

With the school year winding down, the question weighing on many a parent’s mind is, “What am I going to do with them for three months?” Here are some intriguing friendly locations you might not have thought of:

Anantara Golden Triangle Resort & Spa

Where: Chiang Rai, Thailand

What: Elephant Camp

Why: Kids eight years and older can learn how to care for the endangered Thai Asian elephants at Elephant Camp under the tutelage of skilled mahouts who will teach them how to feed, bathe, and ride these gentle giants.  Guests can contribute to helping their elephants with a donation to the Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation, Anantara Golden Triangle’s charity.

Summer Perk: Summer is, contrary to popular belief, a lovely time to visit Northern Thailand, as the short bursts of rain cool the air and keep the flora lush and green. And there are deals to be had and far less tourists to contend with!

Rates: Anantara Golden Triangle offers a special Mahout Discovery package that includes accommodation in a room with daily breakfast and a three-day mahout training course. Rates for this special package begin at $402/night (not inclusive of taxes) for a Deluxe Room, double occupancy (children under 12 sharing a room with parents are free of charge and receive 50% off the daily breakfast).

Jakes

Where: Treasure Beach, Jamaica

What: Caribbean fun

Why: Kids have a variety of activities, such as a mosaic tile workshop led by the artist who is largely responsible for the unique mosaic design found throughout the property as well as watercolor painting classes. There are interactive cooking lessons to teach aspiring young chefs Jamaican cuisine, trips to stunning waterfalls where kids can jump from a rope swing Tarzan-style into the water, and Farm Tours where they follow the food from farm to table.

Summer Perk: Book four nights at Jakes and receive the fifth night free.

Rates: Starting at $95 per night

Shakti

Where: Ladakh, India

What: Little ones in Little Tibet

Why: Outfitter of bespoke village walking tours, Shakti introduces children to snow-crested landscapes untouched by Western influence through a culturally-sensitive tour replete with colonial-style creature comforts. Guides lead guests on walks and activities such as monastery visits, rafting, and sightseeing between Himalayan villages, while porters supply day packs with lunches.* Families retire to Shakti’s fully staffed (and thoughtfully renovated) homes rented from villagers. Kids as young as six will love riding the region’s indigenous two-humped camels, while older ones may prefer to raft the Upper Indus, one of the great rivers of India.

Summer Perk: The weather is consistently sunny and dry on this high altitude plateau.

Rates: A seven-night walk with customizable itinerary and luxury homestead accommodations starts at $530 per night/per person, based on two to three adults, including meals, activities, guides, and ground transportation. A two-night Shayok River Rafting Journey offers ‘glamping’ in luxe-bedded tents; Western-style loos and showers is an optional add-on. Children between three and 16 will pay 50% of the adult rate.


White Elephant Hotel Residences

Where: Nantucket, MA

What: Classic New England Summer

Why: Kids can enjoy the surf at the nearby Children’s Beach and Jetties Beach – both beaches have swing sets, slides, and climbing equipment. There are also numerous activities such as whale-watching, fishing, biking, golfing, and bird-watching. The cabanas by the new members’ pool come equipped with pool toys, towels, and sun screen, and after a day at the beach, children can eat from their special menu at the delicious Brant Point Grill.

Summer Perk: Can’t beat the charm of Nantucket or the miles of beaches surrounding the island.

Rates: Starting at $350 in June for a King room with the Hot Dates/Cool Rates promotion

Crystal Cruises

Where: Alaska

What: Family friendly programming, excursions, and eats

Why: Crystal Symphony offers children’s programs and activities on select sailings including the Fantasia playroom and the Waves arcade, complete with a Sony Playstation® 3, Nintendo Wii™ and Xbox 360™. A daily newsletter, tailored by age group, provides details on kid-friendly activities, like sushi making with Nobu-trained chefs, Bridge and galley tours, ice cream parties, scavenger hunts, and Computer University@Sea® classes.

Summer Perk: The Alaska Summer Series has allied with the National Park Service where Park Rangers come aboard to teach children about natural history; kids and teens can even become Junior Rangers!

Rates: Children 11 and younger pay 50 percent of the minimum fare when accompanied by two full-fare paying adults. Throughout the year, the line occasionally sets special promotions in which children can sail free when sharing a room with two adults.  

Royal Mansour Marrakech

Where: Marrakech, Morocco

What: Joujou Kid’s Club

Why: Along with the idyllic playroom, everyday there is a schedule of events including an Arabic course, arts workshop, writing games, modeling clay, swimming pool games, dress up, and reading. Parents can also arrange for outings around Marrakech, including camel rides through the Palmeraie. Summer Perk: Take the whole fam to check out the Festival National des Arts Populaires where Berber music, folk dance, and street performers fill the streets of Marrakech and provide wonderful – and free – entertainment.

Rates:  Rates for a full individual riad start from €1,650 per night.

Parrot Cay

Where: Turks & Caicos

What: Caribbean fun

Why: The resort introduced children’s offerings based on input from guests, with a range of tailor-made activities including shell painting, tie-dying T-shirts, making necklaces from fossilized shark teeth, organized scavenger hunts, and sailing trips around the island. These activities are particularly popular since they allow the kids to make friends with others on the island.

Summer Perk: Now through October 31, with the Extend that Summer Feeling offer, guests at Parrot Cay get four nights for the price of three or seven nights for the price of five, including breakfast. AND kids eat free all summer!

Rates: Starting at $450 per night for a Terrace Room

La Réserve Genève

Where: Geneva, Switzerland

What: La Petit Réserve

Why: Children can explore the world of “La Petite Réserve” and let their imaginations run wild. The property features a creative ensemble of tree huts and an open air playground on the beautiful lawns.

Summer Perk: La Réserve Genève’s exquisite wooden speedboat is the perfect way to get out on the lake and take in the Swiss scenery and the city views.

Rates: Rates start at $682 for a superior king room

GoldenEye Hotel & Resort

Where: Oracabessa, Jamaica

What: James Bond-style Family Vacay

Why: The watersports program at GoldenEye is supervised by trained lifeguards and will teach children about water safety, snorkeling, jet skiing, and kayaking and expose them to the amazing undersea world of extraordinary creatures and corals. Kiddies can carve coconuts, embark on nature walks, learn bonfire building and fishing with Ramsey (who has worked on the property since the days of Fleming), or stay up to stargaze with Brian, resident astronomy buff.

Summer Perk: Families save 46% off high season winter rates.

Rates: Starting at $448 for a Lagoon Suite

Park Hyatt Beaver Creek

Where: Beaver Creek, Colorado

What: Teen & Tween treatments at Allegria Spa

Why: Tweens and teens can ditch the ‘rents for some much deserved pampering at the Allegria Spa. Eight-12 year olds can indulge in the ‘Diva Deluxe,’ which includes a bubbling footbath, nail and toe art, a primadonna updo, and sweetcheeks makeup application. 12-16 year olds can recreate their favorite makeover scene with the Uptown Girl package, which includes a cranberry orange scrub, Swedish massage, teen facial and makeup application.
Summer Perk: Fridays at the Park, a free weekly event with snacks, live music and activities for kids and the whole family.

Rates: Diva Deluxe- 70 minutes for $125, and Uptown Girl- 120 minutes and $250

For more family travel features, visit

http://www.travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate

www.examiner.com/eclectic-travel-in-national/karen-rubin