The savviest luxury hotel brands understand that appealing to families with kids, especially when it comes to their resort properties, makes excellent business sense. That's because nowadays, it's more unusual for wealthy families to leave their kids behind, apart from the odd special anniversary trip. When both parents work long hours, vacation is about reconnecting with each other as a family, including the kids.
Another factor is that there are more multi-generational family vacations that include grandparents, and if my clients are anything to go by, many of these types of trips involve some of the resort's top suites or villas. Since resorts don't want to miss out on these significant bookings, it makes perfect sense to ensure the resort has enough to offer kids.
Finally, brands, including luxury hotel brands, want to build lifetime relationships with their clients. While kids may not be paying for their stay, their happiness can certainly influence whether their family returns to that property specifically, and to the brand more generally. And incredible memories can result in that child, as an adult, choosing to continue to stay at that hotel, perhaps even have his or her wedding there, and ultimate bring his or her kids to the hotel.
With all this said, it surprises me that more hotels don't do more to welcome kids and families. Here are the brands, based on our own family's experiences and those of my clients, that have done the most to make kids and families feel welcome:
1. Four Seasons
I find Four Seasons far and away the most kid and family friendly luxury hotel brand. There's always a kid-friendly welcome amenity, such as an edible sweet treat or toy, and sometimes the plush animal is so cute (such as the plush manta ray at Four Seasons Bora Bora) I even have adult clients who ask for it.
Another benefit is that kids' rollaways are almost always complimentary, even for older kids age 17 or under (at most other luxury hotels, extra beds incur a fee, especially for kids ages 12 and older). There are usually also kid-size bathrobes and slippers available as well, a cozy touch. And if you have a baby or toddler, the hotel will provide complimentary materials to babyproof the room.
An especially nice benefit is that Four Seasons resorts in beach type locations offer the complimentary Kids for All Seasons kids' club. My son has especially enjoyed the kids' clubs at Four Seasons Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru, Four Seasons Marrakech, Four Seasons Maui at Wailea, Four Seasons Lanai. Again, with most other resort hotels that have kids' clubs, such as Ritz-Carlton, Montage and Fairmont, there is a fee for kids to participate in kids' club activities.
Even some city Four Seasons hotels have very special activities for kids. Particularly memorable was the one at Four Seasons George V Paris, where he got to see some of the secret doors by which royalty and VIPs were unobtrusively ushered into the hotel, and a pastry lesson.
2. Cheval Blanc
Cheval Blanc is better known in Europe, since it's the luxury hotel business of Louis Vuitton, and is named after Chateau Cheval Blanc in Saint-Emilion, one of only four wineries to earn the Premier Grand Cru Classe (A) designation for Saint-Emilion wine.
Currently, there are just 4 Cheval Blanc hotels and resorts: Cheval Blanc Courcheval in the French Alps; Cheval Blanc St. Tropez which opens today, 5/16/19; Cheval Blanc St. Barth Isle de France in St. Barts; and Cheval Blanc Randheli in the Maldives. The first urban Cheval Blanc, Cheval Blanc Paris, will open in Spring 2020.
We, including our son, loved our welcome at Cheval Blanc Randheli, where in addition to a veritable smorgasbord of fresh fruit and delicious macarons, there was freshly squeezed juice for our son (champagne for us) and each of us was given our own beautiful tote bag. Even the lounge in Male is set up with kids in mind–our son happily busied himself constructing a building out of Kapla blocks.
The free standing villas have soaring ceilings and their own private infinity pool, so you never have to worry about bothering neighbors.
The Le Carrousel kids' club, which has both air conditioned interior space and its own kid's pool, was entirely complimentary, and usually there were two staff members and only one other child in addition to our son there, so it was a 1:1 adult-child ratio–talk about individualized attention! Our son loved it so much that it was hard to pry him loose when it was time for us to depart.
Older kids and teens have the Le Paddock hangout, which my husband and I snuck into for a game of ping pong; there's also a foosball table and video games.
When it opens, Cheval Blanc Paris will have 20 connecting rooms and suites (out of just 72 total). In addition to its enviable location just steps from the Louvre Museum and an 18-20 min. walk to the kid-friendly Luxembourg Gardens, the hotel will have a swimming pool and a dedicated team of Alchemists happy to arrange child-friendly activities.
3. Aman Resorts
Aman Resorts are better known for being boutique luxury resorts in remote locales, often close to UNESCO World Heritage sites. But several Aman resorts, such as Amanpulo, Amanyara, Amanera and Amanzoe, do have kids' clubs or at least kids' activities during school holidays. Amanpulo is one our favorite beach resorts in the world, and a perennial favorite with families for its stunning white sand beach, snorkeling, kayaking, and other water activities.
The kids' club is best for younger kids, with both indoor space and an outdoor play area, but even our then 10 year old enjoyed joining the gang to make his own pizza.
If staying in a Casita, the indoor day beds by the window can be made into child size beds. Or for greater privacy, and your own private pool, reserve one of the Palawan Villas.
4. Mandarin Oriental
Mandarin Oriental as a brand tends to have mostly city center properties, which don't lend themselves as well to kids' activities, but I have to say that the Mandarin Oriental Tokyo property outdid itself with its wholly personalized kid's welcome amenity for our son, who loves pizza. They made him a fruit “pizza” with watermelon and mango (his favorite fruits) and even put it in a pizza box. You know a hotel's amenity stands out when even other hoteliers (who had seen my above linked post) mention it, as has been the case.
Another Mandarin Oriental that is great for kids is the Mandarin Oriental Canouan, which has a kids' club (for kids ages 3 and up) and also a teens' club. Both are complimentary, and open 8am-5pm in low season and 8am-8am during high season.
5. Oetker Collection
Oetker Collection is a small collection of luxury hotels and resorts, including well known properties such as Le Bristol Paris, The Lanesborough in London, Hotel du Cap Eden Roc, Eden Rock in St. Barts (which reopens November 20, 2019) and Jumby Bay Island in Antigua, among others.
Jumby Bay Island in particular is fantastic for kids, with its complimentary Camp Jumby kids' club for kids ages 3-11 that includes wildlife and science offerings, Little Chefs cooking class, dancing and singing, arts and crafts.
Even at Le Bristol in Paris, our son was excited to see delicious kid's welcome treats, and a cuddly rabbit named Hippolyte:
Which are your favorite luxury hotel brands that are family and kid-friendly?
Become a TravelSort Client and Book 5-Star Hotels with Virtuoso or Four Seasons Preferred Partner Benefits