The big family getaway is no longer just about lounging around the pool, or dropping the kids off at the play area so mum and dad can enjoy a cocktail.
As hotels update their child-friendly activities for the modern family, coral planting and survival skills have become the new arts and crafts.
Activities are increasingly tailored towards initiatives that help families learn about local traditions and immerse themselves in the local culture, while children are being given more opportunities to make new friends and learn new sports and skills in a safe, engaging environment.
From hands-on lessons about marine life to exploring the night sky, here are five exceptional hotels offering plenty for younger guests beyond the traditional confines of the kids’ club.
Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort, Fiji
Founded by the famed French oceanographer (and son of the legendary Jacques), this five-star eco resort places conservation and education at the heart of every stay. The resort’s commitment to maintaining a pristine environment extends to the programme offered to its youngest guests. Kids aged six and over are supervised in small groups throughout their stay by a Fijian ‘buddy’ and are invited to participate in fun and meaningful activities such as replanting mangroves, exploring coral reefs accompanied by a resident marine biologist, learning about local culture through arts and crafts, and trying their hand at cooking with an emission-free solar oven.
Meanwhile, younger siblings are assigned a dedicated nanny for the duration of their stay, meaning parents get a little me-time to unwind in this most spectacular of settings.
SO Sofitel Hua Hin, Thailand
An easy drive from Bangkok, SO Sofitel Hua Hin has a new family programme that delivers a stay full of enchantment, adventure and activities. Entering the hotel, you’re greeted by a giant rabbit statue – a recurring theme at the property – that forms the basis for regular ‘Carrot’ scavenger hunts where kids work together to win rabbit-themed snacks, building camaraderie and cooperation while getting a thorough workout around the property’s four-hectare grounds.
Meanwhile older children can test their agility at the main pool’s Wibit – a giant inflatable obstacle course – hit a hole-in-one at the wonderland-themed mini-golf course, take a spin on the 2.2-kilometre bike track and volley on the pickleball court, before cooling off with a well-earned treat at the poolside ice cream parlour.
Soneva Fushi, Maldives
Soneva Fushi is renowned for its signature kids’ club, The Den, which offers a whole raft of educational and creative classes. The waters surrounding the resort are stocked with colourful tropical sea life that can be safely explored on a guided family snorkelling trip with the resort’s in-house marine biologist, while the gardens teem with friendly wildlife, including rabbits and lizards. Curious young minds can unlock the mysteries of the night sky with Soneva’s resident astronomer, before indulging in treats from the onsite chocolate room as they watch a film on the outdoor projector screen.
Soneva has also recently begun a partnership with British educational experts Carfax, offering one-on-one tuition across a range of subjects, ensuring older kids can prepare for upcoming exams in comfort and luxury.
The Lakes by Yoo, UK
Families looking for their own patch of luxury in the heart of the English countryside can check into The Lakes by Yoo, an exclusive retreat of luxury private residences in the Cotswolds. Inside you get interiors designed by supermodel Kate Moss and a professional-grade kitchen, while outside the bucolic Gloucestershire scenery awaits. Kids will find plenty to keep them entertained within the estate’s 340-hectare grounds, with everything from ziplining to archery and kayaking to entertain them (and clay pigeon shooting for adults).
Most adventurous of all is the School of Wild, The Lakes’ own bushcraft and survival school. Created in partnership with TV broadcaster and explorer Ben Fogle, the school teaches kids woodcarving, shelter building, camp cookery and bow and arrow making in the surrounding forests, giving them a thrilling taste of the extreme in a safe, supervised environment.
Grand Hyatt Taipei, Taiwan, china
If you can’t get ’em outside, bring the outdoors experience in. The city’s largest luxury hotel offers young guests the opportunity to sleep ‘under canvas’ with its Family Adventure Package: an in-room glamping experience, with a two-man tent made up with Hyatt’s signature plush feather bedding, battery-operated lantern, cuddly toys to take home and even a starlight projector. After breakfast, eaten at the in-room picnic table, little adventurers can either hit the hotel’s heated outdoor pool or lace up their walking boots for an easy family hike up nearby Xiangshan, also known as Elephant Mountain.