Best of 2016: Our Favorite Family Hotel Discoveries of the Year

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.

2016 Family Hotel Discoveries, Four Seasons Whistler

Photo by Four Seasons Whistler

Best Family Hotel Discoveries of 2016

Bespoke Luxury

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

2016 Family Hotel Discoveries, Nimmo Bay

Photo by Nimmo Bay Wilderness Resort

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

2016 Family Hotel Discoveries, Le Guanahani

Photo by Le Guanahani

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  

2016 Family Hotel Discoveries, Hotel Beacon

Photo by Hotel Beacon

City Escapes

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

2016 Family Hotel Discoveries, The Miami Beach Edition

Photo by The Miami Beach Edition

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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2016 Family Hotel Discoveries, Le Hameau des Baux

Photo by Le Hameau des Baux

Relaxing Retreats

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

2016 Family Hotel Discoveries, Caribbean Club

Photo by Zach Stovall/Caribbean Club

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

2016 Family Hotel Discoveries, Grand Velas Riviera Maya

Photo by Tamara Gruber

Activities Galore

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

2016 Family Hotel Discoveries, Siwash Lake Wilderness Resort

Photo by Siwash Lake Wilderness Resort

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

2016 Family Hotel Discoveries, Dhara Dhevi

Photo by Laurel Perry

Cultural Connections

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

2016 Family Hotel Discoveries, Hyatt Regency Tamaya

Photo by Nicole Wiltrout

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

Relevant Links:

Browse the entire collection of family-friendly hotels and resorts on Ciao Bambino

Our favorite 2015 hotel discoveries with kids

Ciao Bambino family vacation packages bundle favorite hotels and activities

Best U.S. hotels and resorts for a multigenerational family vacation

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