Family vacations are nostalgic for most of us. But are you sure the same memories live rent-free in the minds of your parents?
While you were splashing around in the sea without a care in the world, Dad might have been frantically searching the beach for you. A chilled-out day at the pool? Not for Mum; she was reapplying your sunscreen every 10 minutes because you refused to wait half an hour to jump in.
Luckily, some hotels have taken the initiative. Kids programs, family-friendly facilities, and other innovative strategies mean a family holiday can be unforgettable for everyone—for the right reasons. If you’ve got a few little ones in tow, check out this list of the best family-friendly hotels in the world.
C Lazy U Ranch
Location: Granby, Colorado
Vibe: Western dreamworld
The rundown: Is one of your kids a little obsessed with cowboys? Let them experience the real thing at C Lazy U Ranch in Colorado. In this case, the breathtaking Dude Ranch features an all-inclusive package that includes a dizzying array of activities like horse riding through the countryside and fishing lessons.
After the fun is done for the day, you and the rest of the family can retreat to your luxury guestroom or cabin. The multi-room cabins are perfect for families, keeping everyone in one place and allowing you to ensure none of the smaller ones get a little too adventurous and disappear into the wilderness.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
Location: Orlando, Florida
Vibe: Disney magic
The rundown: A family-friendly hotel list would feel incomplete without at least one Disney property on there. We’ve got two on ours, the first being the spectacular Animal Kingdom Lodge.
If you ever need to conjure a sense of awe in your youngsters without flying them halfway across the world, this is the place to do it. Themed and designed to a degree only made possible by Disney’s “Imagineers,” the sprawling safari lodge will transport everyone to African Savannah. Orlando will seem miles away.
Of course, the highlight is opening the bedroom balcony doors to reveal a manmade plain with real giraffes, ostriches, and zebras. Maybe keep that one a secret and enjoy the wide-eyed wonder. You’re just getting them prepped for the real thing.
Location: Cancun, Mexico
Vibe: Hands-off, chilled-out Yucutan dream
The rundown: Cancun is the most popular destination in the world for American travelers, so it makes sense some of its hotels have implemented outstanding amenities for families.
The Hyatt Ziva puts an outstanding focus on the kids, providing a complimentary kids club for youngsters aged 4-12. Unlike many other clubs, it’s open from 9 am to 9 pm with no limits on how long the kids can stay there. There are also designated family hours where Mum and Dad can hang out.
The club itself has its pool restricted to those signed up for the day, and daily activities include beach time, pool fun, and arts and crafts. They’ll never be bored, and you can enjoy some well-earned alone time.
Aulani, A Disney Resort
Location: Oahu, Hawaii
Vibe: Pacific Island wonder
The rundown: Disney’s second appearance on the list isn’t at one of the parks but in the natural wonderland of Oahu, Hawaii. The sprawling resort is brilliant in itself, featuring fully-equipped guestrooms with kitchens, multiple bedrooms, and expansive shared areas.
The highlight for the kids is Aunty’s Kids’ Club, a vast 5,200 square meter facility hosting complimentary activities for 4-12-year-olds. The experience there will center around Hawaiian life, giving kids a chance to understand a little more about the islands’ culture and meet some of the most famous Disney characters from the region, like Lilo, Stitch, Moana, and Maui.
Wild Dunes Resort
Location: Isle of Palms, South Carolina
Vibe: Heaven for curious young minds
The rundown: If you’ve got a youngster with a million questions and insatiable curiosity, get a reservation for Wild Dunes Resort in South Carolina. Its clubs and activities are far more engaging than run-of-the-mill drop-em-and-run daycares.
Kids aged 4-12 have a plethora of things to try, from Mad Scientist experiments, treasure hunts on the beach, Junior Detective programs, and even building forts and rockets. Most of the activities work hand in hand with local companies and environmentalists, helping give the kids valuable insight into the conservation of the stunning landscape.
One&Only Reethi Rah
Location: The Maldives
Vibe: Ultra-luxury family escape
The rundown: It’s a big splash, but it’s the Maldives, after all. You already know the drill; crystal blue waters, stilted villas hovering over said water, impossibly white sand, and a luxury experience only associated with One&Only (the names makes sense, right?)
In its typical spare no-expense outlook on business, the resort offers one-to-one child daycare for younger kids, a kids’ club for 4-12-year-olds, babysitting if you fancy a romantic dinner, and a host of other ways to maximize both family and alone time. If you’re already staying at the resort, make the most of it.