Eight Great Family-Friendly Hotels

As family-friendly meetings become increasingly popular among associations and companies eager to boost attendance — and motivate their employees — it’s safe to say that planners will be fielding more requests for properties that have something for everyone, especially the kids. The following properties manage to possess an ideal balance of meeting spaces and excellent kid’s programs — a must for any family-friendly meeting. 

As Disney’s first standalone hotel property in Hawaii, located on Oahu, Aulani offers plenty of activities and features that make it a standout destination on its own. Kids ages 3 to 12 will especially love Aunty’s Beach House, a kids club centered solely around Hawaiian culture, art, and music that is supervised by Disney Youth Counselors.  The 5,200-square-foot complex has a movie room, video games, game tables, arts and crafts, a costumes closet for playing dress-up, and an enclosed and secure backyard. It’s not uncommon for beloved Disney characters to make an appearance here. For a more interactive experience, parents can enroll their children in a Fish Are Friends marine education program, or a surf-themed beach party and dinner with Chip and Dale.

The all-inclusive Beaches brand has a reputation for catering to families and the Turks & Caicos property does not disappoint. It has a 45,000 square-foot waterpark and a 12-mile beach, for starters, and Beaches’ exclusive partnerships with Sesame Street, Scratch DJ Academy, and Xbox allow it to provide entertainment options that kids will love. Beaches tailors its kids club programs to each and every age group: infants; toddlers; pre-teens; and teens. Teens even have access to their very own nightclub, Club Liquid. All programs are supervised by nannies and Kids Camp staffers who are also members of the International Nanny Association.

This Rocky Mountain treasure, open since 1918, is perfect for families seeking outdoor adventures — biking, rafting, paddle boating, swimming, horseback riding, tennis, and golf — when mom and dad aren’t attending meeting sessions.  The Broadmoor, listed on Travel + Leisure’s Best Family Hotels of 2010, has a Bee Bunch camp for children ages 3-12 that includes arts and crafts, movies, games, nature walks, an field trips. The Broadmoor also boasts award-winning meeting facilities.

In the heart of the British Columbia Rockies in Canada you’ll find this sprawling Fairmont resort, which offers a variety of children’s amenities, services, and activities. The resort also has access to the area’s natural hot springs for family members of all ages. For kids, specifically, there’s the BC Rockies Base Camp next to the resort where kids can play, take in game of miniature golf, play a game of beach volleyball, volley some tennis balls, kayak, bike ride, and more. The Fairmont also offers half-day and full-day camps for kids, as well as a three-day Youth Golf and Adventure Camp, kayaking tours, horseback riding, and bike rentals.

Having just completed a $50-million renovation, this Kissimmee, FL, resort offers an ideal blend of flexible meeting space — 400,000 square feet total — and easy proximity to the Walt Disney World Resort theme parks, SeaWorld’s Discovery Cove, Legoland Florida, and Universal Orlando Resort. 

Gaylord’s Kids Nite Out service provides in-room childcare services for individual guests and provides daytime services for children of meetings and events attendees. The hotel is also mindful to add kid-friendly events, like the Shrek Feast at Gaylord Palms. Every weekend through this summer, the Villa de Flora restaurant transforms into Shrek-themed fairytale breakfast during which Shrek and his friends make an appearance. 

Megan Barry, lead travel buyer for Maritz Travel, says that Gaylord hotels throughout the U.S. have proven to provide great experiences for the children of her meeting attendees. “The pools, kid’s clubs, and themes, like Shrek, are really great,” she says.

Camp Hyatt Kauai caters to keiki (kids) from ages 3 to 12 and camp counselors take special care to make sure kids are well taken care of and entertained with activities that range fro koi fish feeding to lei making. Many activities encourage kids to learn about native Hawaiian legends and culture, and pool time, hula lessons, and even a Parrot Talk with a live, resident parrot are included. 

Sirius Compute Solutions recently held its annual family-friendly incentive trip at the resort this year and, says Christina Davis, director of marketing for Sirius, said that the hotel was a big success with her attendees. “This was our third incentive trip at Grand Hyatt Kauai — it’s an incredible property,” she says. “It is a great place to have your kids. It’s a great place for people to really experience Hawaii.”

In recent years, Davis says, she’s seen more attendees bringing their children. “Years ago it used to be kind of rare, but people are bringing children more often now and I think that has a lot to do with the fact that are lives are so busy and it’s a great opportunity to spend quality time with your family in a beautiful place.”
 
At Maui’s Grand Wailea, kids have exclusive access to their very own “mini-resort,” Camp Grande. This 20,000-square-foot facility, just for families, is open seven days a week. Here, kids can hang out in the wading pool, take in a movie, play video games, do crafts, play a friendly game of pingpong, foosball, or pool, and learn about Hawaiian arts and culture. The property also offers Day (Morning and Afternoon) and Night Camp services led by experienced camp counselors; reservations are required 24 hours in advance.  Popular activities include sand-sculpting contests; pool time, a hotel scavenger hunt, and even a night swim. Daily Camp Workshops at the Poolside Activity Desk teach kids how to make Puka shell necklaces, Hawaiian wood crafts, kukui nut necklaces, tie-dye T-shirts, and more. 

If you’re looking to host your next family-friendly meeting at Grand Wailea, you can also trust Gale Fujiwara, director of catering and convention services, to help you create activities that include all attendees.  At one family-inclusive meeting, Fujiwara’s team organized an Olympic-style event that combined corporate social responsibility: teams of families built bicycles that were donated to a local charity.

The historic Victorian beach resort that is the Hotel del Coronado has plenty going for it — especially its prime location. Situated on the best beach in the U.S., according to Dr. Beach, it is within easy driving distance to San Diego’s major family attractions — Sea World, Lego Land, the San Diego Zoo, and the San Diego Wild Animal Park. 

On property, however, the hotel has a number of family-friendly options and features, including its Kidtopia Camp & Crafts facility for children ages 4-12.  Here, kids can do arts and crafts, participate in stage performances, tackle the climbing unit, and take in a movie or a round of Dance Dance Revolution. Teens ages 13-17 can retreat to their own Vibz Teen Lounge where they can play billiards, foosball, darts, karaoke, and have access to movies and computers. During the summer, the hotel hosts special family activities that include s’mores by a beach bonfire, dive-in movie nights and even surf camp. Teens ages 13 and up are also allowed to partake in most of the spa treatments offered at the hotel’s Spa and Salon at The Del.