After a dozen years (and counting!) of helping families plan amazing trips at Ciao Bambino, we’re pretty adept at discerning whether a hotel will truly be a great fit for families, even before we set foot on the grounds. Still, there’s the occasional gem that turns out to be even more delightful than we’d anticipated — and when that happens, we can’t wait to spread the word. Here are our favorite family hotel finds from our 2016 travels.
Best Family Hotel Discoveries of 2016
Four Seasons Resort Whistler is one of the best ski hotels we have experienced in North America. A short walk or shuttle ride from the base of Blackcomb, it is fully staffed with employees ready to assist with needs large and small, from putting on boots to booking ski school. At the end of the day, you turn over your ski gear, retrieve your walking shoes and grab a complimentary warm chocolate chip cookie and hot chocolate at the changing area. Warm swimming pools and s’mores await the kids; a bit later, there’s wine tasting for the adults. In the evenings, kids’ movies are shown in a cozy space off the lobby where everyone can sprawl on cushions or comfy chairs. As a bonus, Four Seasons Resort Whistler is part of the Virtuoso network, which allows Ciao Bambino to pass along exclusive Virtuoso perks to our clients when you book a stay through our Family Travel Advisor team. — Barbara Weindling
Nimmo Bay Wilderness Resort in Canada is one of those secret gems you are lucky to experience once in your lifetime. The adventure begins with a floatplane ride through the pristine British Columbia wilderness to arrive at Nimmo Bay, tucked along the waterfront and secluded from the outside world. With a relaxed feel, flawless service and spectacular local excursions, it is a perfect combination of outdoor adventure and luxury. — Sandy Pappas
A haven of low-key luxury and friendly, efficient service, Le Guanahani in St. Barth (a Virtuoso property) is consistently ranked as one of the top 10 resorts in the Caribbean. The two-bedroom suites are great for families, with plenty of space and privacy. Even better, it’s an extremely safe environment, and parents feel comfortable letting kids have more independence than in many other places. Kids love the freedom to go between the beach and the pool at will, and they can learn to paddleboard, kayak or windsurf in the shallow and calm water with help from the sports director and kids’ club staff. — Lynn Juliano
I’m not sure this counts as a discovery, since it’s been a CB! Collection favorite for years, but I look back fondly on our summer stay at Hotel Beacon in Manhattan. On the surface, the property appears simple and unassuming; what makes it stand out is the great mix of family-friendly amenities, like in-room kitchens and a full laundry area, and intangibles such as a homelike atmosphere and warm, thoughtful service. And on top of that, the price point is unreal for the quality and location in the heart of the Upper West Side. It’s just become my go-to New York hotel. — Lisa Frederick
Edition Hotels is taking the lifestyle hotel trend to a new level with their design-focused portfolio in London, Miami Beach, New York and Sanya, China, plus 11 more exciting openings in the works through 2019 and beyond. We gave The Miami Beach Edition a test drive and found the experience inside and out to be great fun, with two beautiful swimming pools, a beach club, fantastic dining outlets and even an in-house ice rink and bowling alley! Families who want a more family-friendly South Beach experience without losing a glamorous, hip vibe need look no further. — Amie O’Shaughnessy
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Le Hameau des Baux in Paradou, France makes for a relaxing break in western Provence. Based in a tiny hamlet, with an adjacent village full of good restaurants, the hotel is well set up to accommodate families. Our room had a recessed loft area with twin beds, a walk-out patio with chairs and lounges, and a grassy area for kids to run around safely. The pool is heated — a rarity in France — and fully gated with an attendant. Best of all, the Camion Bleu (Blue Truck) serves a casual dinner five nights a week, with outdoor seating beside a boules court and hammocks in the garden area between the rooms and the pool. — Barbara Weindling
Right in the center of Grand Cayman’s Seven Mile Beach, Caribbean Club is in a perfect location for families. It’s directly across from a huge grocery store, and there’s no need for a car, as you can walk to a dozen or more restaurants — plus one of the best on the island, Luca, is right onsite. The three-bedroom luxury condos all have ocean views, large ensuite baths, comfortable beds and linens, extremely well-equipped kitchens, laundry facilities and living areas that flow onto the balcony. With calm and beautiful turquoise water, plus a pool, water-loving families will be in heaven. There’s no kids’ club, but you can walk down to the Ritz-Carlton and participate in their Ambassadors of the Environment program, open to all island visitors. — Lynn Juliano
Mexico’s Grand Velas Riviera Maya, a Virtuoso network hotel, is a perfect multigenerational family vacation destination. With a kids’ club, a teen club and seemingly endless activities, from bungee on the beach to hamster balls in the pool, you don’t need to worry about entertaining the little ones. The food quality is a step up from the typical all-inclusive. Kids can’t get enough of the round-the-clock room service and complimentary minibar snacks; adults can’t get enough of the award-winning spa and its water therapy experience or poolside massages. — Tamara Gruber
Siwash Lake Wilderness Resort is a fabulous boutique ranch experience in the middle of the British Columbia backcountry, with a great family and team as hosts. The accommodations are incredible canvas safari-style tents; the food is delicious; and the equestrian program is exceptional. With a diverse slate of activities including marksmanship, archery, water sports and yoga, there’s something for everyone. — Sandy Pappas
Located in the beautiful city of Chiang Mai, Thailand, the Virtuoso-affiliated Dhara Dhevi offers families a truly local experience. Guests feel like they are staying on the grounds of a Thai palace as they wander through the delightful setting of this exquisite resort. With the many accommodation options, several restaurants to choose from, a luxurious and grand spa, and a kids’ club to beat all kids’ clubs, Dhara Dhevi takes my No. 1 spot for family-friendly resorts this year! It’s a place where your family can visit a rice field and plant rice, make traditional Thai crafts, take a Thai kickboxing class and generally feel like royalty, without ever leaving the property. — Laurel Perry
My family’s favorite hotel of 2016 was the Hyatt Regency Tamaya in New Mexico. Situated on tribal land, this Virtuoso property has a great mix of cultural experiences, like Native American dancing, storytelling and crafts, along with all the typical resort amenities you’d expect from a place in the southwestern U.S. The water slide was a hit with my kids, as was the horse riding experience at the stables onsite. My husband and I will never forget the gorgeous sunsets from our patio and our family bike ride to the Rio Grande. — Nicole Wiltrout