The key to any vacation is picking the right hotel. Each year, Travel + Leisure asks their readers to choose their favorite family hotels, resorts, and cruise lines—ones that truly excel at pleasing the whole clan.
This year they had 50 top choices. According to T+L “two things are changing in the competitive world of family-friendly hotels: resorts are becoming even savvier about designing activities to engage young guests, and they’re going back to fundamentals in pleasing parents.”
Much is changing at hotels and resorts: from enhanced game lounges for teens to private adult only pools for parents. Even kids menus are evolving: “the Four Seasons George V in Paris, for example, offers kid-friendly options with a Parisian accent—kids will never whine for toaster waffles after they’ve said bonjour to sugared crepes.”
The survey resulted in a list that includes: 7 Disney World resorts, 5 Florida resorts (non-Disney), 11 resorts in Hawaii, 7 in California, 3 in Colorado, 3 in Canada, 3 in Arizona and the rest spread out over the country. Check out the Travel + Leisure article for more of the list and a slide show.. while we give you more details on some key resorts.
Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa #45
Lake Buena Vista, Florida
To many The Grand Floridian may be reminiscent of the sunshine state’s golden era. However, according to themeparkinsider.com “the Grand Floridian borrowed its look not from a Florida landmark, but from San Diego’s Hotel del Coronado.”
It’s the closest hotel to Magic Kingdom, one of three hotels with monorail service, free transportation to and from the airport; Extra Magic Hours to Disney’s theme parks and no it’s not cheap. According to disneyfoodblog.com The Grand Floridian’s Victoria & Albert’s is the only AAA 5-diamond restaurant in Orlando (and one of only a handful in Florida)… and that’s not cheap either. But, its chef’s table is the hottest ticket around.
This is the grandest of Disney’s resorts. According to professionaltravelguide.com “The service here, like its dining options, is noticeably superior to any other resort at Walt Disney World, and the closest competition outside the hotel is the JW Marriott Orlando, Grande Lakes.”
Notes: Standard rooms include two queen-size “cloud” beds and a day bed. Suites are also available.
The hotel has two pools – the large Courtyard Pool, which is open 24 hours and has a shallow kiddy pool nearby, and the Beach Pool, which has a cool water slide and waterfall.
The Broadmoor #30
Colorado Springs, Colorado
The Broadmoor, known as the “Grande Dame of the Rockies” is an Italian Renaissance-style hotel built in 1918. This 700 room, five-star rated resort overlooks beautiful mountains and a lake. In the summer, families use the lake as well as the 11,000-gallon pool, complete with slides, a zero-entry area for little kids, a lap pool and a children’s play section.
Several review sites like tripadvisor.com had notes that it wasn’t quite as kid-friendly as they would have liked. But, overall reviews seem to give positive comments about the resort. Out of 200 reviews on tripadvisor.com it had an 83% rating, but only 35 of the 200 identified themselves as families
Check Here for family packages.
Disney’s Yacht Club Resort #26
Lake Buena Vista, Florida
Disney’s Yacht Club Resort is a 1880s coastal New England-themed Disney Deluxe Resort that is only a 5 minute walk to Epcot and 15 minutes walk to Hollywood Studios. Can’t get closer than that. Unlike its sister resort, the Beach Club, the Yacht Club has more of a quiet, understated elegance about it.
The are over 600 rooms, 20 suites and 71 concierge suites for those who prefer a little luxury with their vacation. The disneyfoodblog.com gives the Yachtsman Steakhouse honorable mention in their list of Best Disney World Restaurants for Romance. Amenities are shared between the Yacht Club and Beach Club and include’s includes a variety of water-themed offerings, the popular 3-acre Stormalong Bay (with water slides and 3 lagoons, quiet pools, volleyball court, watercraft rentals, fishing, an arcade and more.)
The Breakers #24
Palm Beach, Florida
The Breakers set amidst 140 acres of breathtaking oceanfront property; the resort offers an extensive range of services and amenities for the vacationing or business traveler. The 1896 oceanfront star has a new family focus—witness the five pools, junior golf academy, and arcade with Nintendo Wiis.
Accommodations include 540 guest-rooms (of which 68 are suites). Click Here for more.
Amenities: Two 18-hole championship golf courses, a 20,000-square-foot luxury spa with ocean view fitness center, Mediterranean-style beach club overlooking one-half mile of private beach, five swimming pools, variety of water sports, 10 tennis courts and an extensive program of family and children’s activities. Also features an outstanding selection of eight restaurants and an array of on-site boutiques with distinctive merchandise.
Families can reserve up to five adjoining rooms. Children under 16 stay free in the same room as their parents. Other features include: The Breakers Junior Golf Academy – offering an appreciation for the game of golf; the 6,160 square foot Family Entertainment Center; bone fires on the beach (til October) and Coconut Crew Interactive Camp (kids 3-12)
Travel and Leisure notes that “Executive chef Anthony Sicignano has pioneered an organic herb and vegetable garden cultivated for resort use (they’re growing everything from watermelon to pak choi).”
This is a luxury resort so expect to pay for it. Twenty percent service charge is added to all food service and spa service.
Fairmont Kea Lani
The Fairmont Kea Lani in Wailea (Maui) is an all-suite hotel offering 413 suites and 37 villas overlooking a calm cove. Some of the suites offer panoramic ocean views and all have balconies. The two-bedroom villa is 1800 square feet and the three-bedroom villa embodies 2200 square feet. In addition to providing all the amenities available in the suites, these two-story oceanfront accommodations in Maui, Hawaii, feature a private courtyard with plunge pool, deluxe barbeque grill, second bathroom, private washer and dryer, and a full kitchen.
The Fairmont gives guests the added space to relax in their living room or balcony. The huge bathrooms (with double sinks, separate garden tub and huge walk-in shower) are extremely large. Even the smallest rooms feel colossal at this all-suite spread on Maui’s Polo Beach.
The outrigger canoe ride gives guests the opportunity to experience a true Hawaiian tradition. This complimentary activity is only offered in the mornings and spots are reserved quickly by the guests. Be sure to sign up as soon as you check into the hotel. The day we did this (in February) we saw several whales near our outrigger. The villas are great options for families or friends traveling together.
Brave 140-foot waterslide, string orchids into leis, and golf with a view of mountains and ocean.
For a video walk through a 3-bedroom suite by McCoy Travel.
Sanctuary at Kiawah Island Golf Resort #18
Charleston, South Carolina
Five years ago The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island Golf Resort opened its doors as a spectacular ocean front hotel and spa, the first new construction build on the East Coast in more than 20 years. Since then The Sanctuary has achieved the coveted AAA Five Diamond and Mobil Five Star status, at both the at the hotel and at the Sanctuary Spa. Four of the five courses at this golf-focused beach resort are fitted with family tees.
Located along 10 miles of pristine beach just south of Charleston, SC, Kiawah Island Golf Resort is currently ranked as the #1 resort in the U.S. by Golf World magazine, the #2 golf resort in the U.S. by Travel + Leisure Golf magazine, one of the top five tennis resorts in the U.S. by Tennis Magazine and the prestigious Conde Nast Traveler magazine has ranked Kiawah Island Golf Resort the #3 resort in the USA and the #2 island in North America. It includes The Sanctuary, a 255-room hotel and spa, 600 private villas and luxury homes, nine restaurants, two tennis centers, a renowned recreation and nature program and has five championship golf courses, including The Ocean Course, host of the 1991 Ryder Cup, the 2007 Senior PGA and 2012 PGA championships.
But, it’s not just golf. Forbestraveler.com describe it this way. “Beaches, five championship golf courses, tennis and fine dining are all compressed into this environmentally designed semi-tropical, private barrier island paradise.”
The 10 mile lone uninterrupted stretch of the best beach in South Carolina await you. Kids can explore the natural beauty and abundant wildlife of Kiawah with Naturalists and through kid-friendly programs. Camp Kiawah (for kids 3-11) provides exciting adventure, great interaction with its dedicated counselors.
For October check out their Halloween Special Weekend Package
Grand Wailea Resort Hotel & Spa #7
According to Fodor.com, “Following a renovation of all rooms in 2008, “Grand” is no exaggeration for this opulent, sunny, 40-acre resort with elaborate water features such as a “canyon riverpool” with slides, caves, a Tarzan swing, and a water elevator.”
Camp Grande — a spacious and friendly mini-resort for kids 5 to 12 years old. The 20,000-square-foot facility is opened from 9am-9pm (one hours closed for dinner), has a Movie Theater, Whale-shaped wading pool, game room and full-size soda fountain.
The Fodor.com site had a member review of 3.3 (though most of the reviews were from 2007). Yelp.com had 68 reviewers (mostly current) and their ratings were overwhelmingly 4-5 stars.
One yelp.com reviewer noted his positives: “Had an ocean view room on the top floor. Excellent. World-class pool with many water slides, rope swing, lazy river, etc. Very well manicured property with walking paths. Friendly staff. Many places for those Kodak moments. Updated rooms with a fresh look/feel.”
- 5 Great Hyatt Timeshare Resorts Sleeping Five or More
- New Turks and Caicos Resort Gears up for February Opening with 30% off Rate
- Grand Summit Hotel at Mount Snow Resort Offers Three Kids Ski and Learn Free Weeks
- Caribbean + Mexico: Up to 50% off Club Med
- Amelia Island Plantation for Families of Five or More Can Engage a Great All-inclusive Package