Case Study in Family Travel Growth: Preferred Hotels and Resorts

Families are traveling. This isn’t news, particularly to anyone that has vacationed over the past few years — kids are everywhere!

The difference now is where people want to take their children. We took a quick bucket list poll on our Facebook page and even this brief snapshot is telling; target family travel destinations for 2012 include Ireland, Umbria (Italy), Costa Rica, Dubai, South Africa, Istanbul (Turkey), and Canada. Parents want to experience the world with their children; gone are the days when kids need to be “old enough” to travel abroad.

I attended the International Luxury Travel Market Show in December and it’s clear that the world’s top hotels and service providers have families on their mind and are busy creating custom programs and amenities to attract them. A fantastic industry development!

Preferred Group Family Hotels

Case and point is the 2012 focal point — FAMILY — for Preferred Hotels Group, a premier marketing association of independent hotels.

One driver for this effort is that Preferred projects a boom in multigenerational travel. Preferred recently conducted a study of the US leisure market and found that 40% of US leisure travelers — 20.8 million people — had taken a multigenerational trip in the past 12 months. See their full press release for other interesting facts and findings.

We know large hotel chains are catering to kids as Fairmont, Four Seasons, Ritz-Carlton, and Starwood all have robust family programs. What’s interesting about the Preferred Hotels & Resorts’ development is that clearly independent hotels are jumping on the bandwagon.

I sat down with Lindsey Ueberroth, the President of Preferred Hotel Group, at ILTM and got the scoop on their plans.

Families need rates and packages just for them, as well as kid-focused amenities and entertainment. These two elements are getting attention throughout the Preferred portfolio.

The beauty of this is that Preferred hotels include 4 and 5-star properties all over the world. Affiliation with the Preferred brand means hotels have passed their annual quality assurance inspection, i.e. anything in their portfolio will live up to their rigorous brand standards.

Now, if a hotel in their portfolio offers credible infrastructure for families, it receives the Preferred Family Certified seal of approval. This approval includes age appropriate ratings, a sign that Preferred understands families with different aged children have vastly different needs.

Hotels that receive the Preferred Family Certified seal of approval have a dedicated page outlining all the corresponding family-focused amenities and services.

Examples of Preferred Family Certified hotels:

Ojai Inn and Spa California

Ojai Valley Inn & Spa

This iconic spa hotel in Central California offers kids’ camps for ages 3-12 and a Teen Club for ages 13-17. Lindsey just stayed here with her own extended family and raved about their in-room amenities and creative treats for kids. See their Preferred Family Certification page for full details.

Montage Deer Valley Utah

Montage Deer Valley

The Montage Laguna Beach (Ciao Bambino Approved) is one of my favorite luxury family hotels with a truly exceptional kids’ club; I was not surprised to learn that the Montage Deer Valley won the Best Family Program award in 2011 from Virtuoso.

The Montage Deer Valley has a bowling alley, game room, and the full Paintbox kids’ club. See their Preferred Family Certification page for full details.

I was honest with Lindsey in our meeting and said I never would have thought of using the Preferred website as a resource for family vacation planning in the past. Hello new, reliable resource for parents!

Photos courtesy of Preferred Hotel Group

Relevant Links:

Luxury family travel trends

Top family-friendly hotel chains (US edition)

Finding the best Europe family hotels

Finding family-friendly boutique hotels

How to choose the right ranch vacation

Things to consider before booking mega-resorts

Evaluating all-inclusive beach resorts

Finding family-friendly ski resorts

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