Table for three
I know, kid-friendly + romantic getaway is an oxymoron. If you have unlimited access to childcare you need not worry about combining the two. If not, you’ll want to read on.
We just got back from a romantic and kid-friendly Valentine’s Day weekend in Northern Italy at the Four Seasons Hotel Milano and L’Albereta near Lake Iseo. We don’t have family here to help with overnight childcare so all-family excursions are a must.
How do you create a kid-friendly-yet-romantic getaway?
What makes a getaway romantic? For me, three things need to be in place: relaxation, a sense of escape, and a mood of appreciation.
The destination helps — a lot. Italy by nature is the ultimate romantic venue for many couples — the unhurried lifestyle and absolute appreciation of simple things paired with the visual treats (urban and natural) helps put everyone in a joyous, amorous state.
Fortunately, there are fabulous getaway spots in every corner of the globe. You don’t have to go to Italy to find venues that inspire togetherness.
The next important factor is the hotel. We specialize in finding and reviewing luxury hotels on Ciao Bambino so I’m biased, but everyone enjoys extraordinary hotel experiences.
Does a hotel have to be high end to be romantic? Absolutely not. But a hotel that is special in one way or another is the key to creating the right mood. If kids are in tow, it’s essential to have enough services that you get to escape from the daily grind. There’s nothing romantic about schlepping, cooking, and cleaning.
We stayed at Villa D’Este on Lake Como for our anniversary in October. We didn’t get a babysitter but still had a romantic, amazing weekend. How? Every one of us felt utterly pampered and relaxed. That was enough for us as it represented a dramatic departure from every day life.
Cooking lesson at Four Seasons Milano
A special dinner of some sort usually accompanies a romantic getaway. Babysitting is an obvious solution to getting alone time for a night. If that is not in the cards for one reason or another, have dinner together, but make it unique.
I presented this dilemma to the Four Seasons Milan and they noodled on how to create a special dinner for, ahem, the three of us. Their answer? Our son would spend an hour with the pastry chef in the kitchen learning to make heart-shaped cookies (and other romantic shapes like cars) for our dessert; their work would be consumed in their “Chocolate Room” (so named because this room is wall-to-wall chocolate and I’m not kidding).
Our 8-year-old son absolutely lit up when he entered that kitchen. He knew he was doing something special, we got some alone time, and all of us thoroughly enjoyed the entire evening.
The Four Seasons is the best hotel chain for extraordinary and highly personalized kids amenities — but I’ve found that many hotels are willing to be creative about engaging kids, you just have to ask.
Kids’ clubs allow mom and dad to hit the spa — guilt free
Spas are generally not kid-friendly and this is a very good thing. Parents need and want our adult-only spaces.
If you want a spa visit to be lengthy and guilt-free, find a hotel with a kids’ club. Hotels outside the US offer them for infants and very young kids. It’s harder to find them for very young kids in the US — use our Hotel Quick Search box at the top of each page for an easy list.
Nonetheless, a quality kids club ensures your kids will have fun while you do, plus standard programs are more cost-effective than paying an hourly babysitter.
Our Valentine’s weekend hotel, L’Albereta, features a sumptuous, state-of-the-art spa offering every treatment imaginable (stay tuned for a dedicated post this topic). What a place! This is not a family hotel — one look at the L’Albereta website will tell you that — yet it is 100% kid-friendly. Adults are pampered while kids have their own things to do.
Romantic weekend accomplished! We left Italy relaxed and rejuvenated, and guess what, we’re better partners and parents in this enlightened state. Happy Valentine’s Day!
Photos courtesy by Amie O’Shaughnessy. Complimentary accommodations provided by Four Seasons Milano and L’Albereta. They asked us to present no particular opinion about our stay.
I’ll be doing some follow up stories on the Four Seasons new family travel blog, Have Family Will Travel. Stay tuned!
Valentine’s Day Posts from the Travel Blog Mob:
10 tips for creative romance during family travel by Wandering Educators
My love affair with Italy by Traveling with MJ
Romantic getaway vacation in Napa Valley by The Vacation Gals
Creative Romance: Bathe in Chocolate by Spot Cool Stuff
Romantic travel ideas on a budget by BootsnAll