Winter 2012 Family Vacation Dream List

Fantastic winter vacation venues are in great supply and I always find it hard to choose between a week-long ski week where everyone has the opportunity improve their skills and an escape into sunshine. In addition, urban getaways in Europe can be a blast in winter when cities are filled with locals instead of tourists.

I combed through our portfolio for our 2012 Family Vacation Dream List. The best part is there’s something here for a variety of budgets and interests, so just maybe, that dream can become a reality.

Don’t forget that what makes Ciao Bambino different from most of our travel blogging friends is that you can book everything we recommend in our family-friendly hotel portfolio through us. The best part is that your requests go right to the property for the latest offers — the price is the same as if you found it without Ciao Bambino! When you go through us, we see commission on the back end which costs you nothing, but pays our bills so we can continue to offer amazing tips and advice for traveling families.

If you’ve used our service before, you know another benefit is that Ciao Bambino offers tremendous service. We have a dedicated resource — JT Swanson — who will make sure you get a quote that includes the information you need to decide if a property is the right fit for your vacation. If you don’t want to use our form for requests, you can always email JT on info<at>

Sun Seekers

Honua Kai Resort Overview

Honua Kai Resort and Spa | Maui

Honua Kai is a new resort in a popular part of Maui for families. Affordable luxury (not an oxymoron!) is the theme here with condo amenities paired with the full services of an upscale hotel.

Convenience factors include an onsite gourmet grocery store and a Duke’s restaurant. Hip Travel Mama provided the intel on this hotel and reports that the pool is fantastic.

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Vero Beach Hotel and Spa Exterior

Vero Beach Hotel and Spa | Florida

A Florida hotel for families doesn’t need to be a mega-resort where it takes you 20 minutes just to walk to the pool from your room. Kimpton, one of our favorite kid-friendly hotel brands, runs this boutique hotel in Vero Beach.

Two and three bedroom suites are ideal for families, plus they have kitchenette facilities for quick meals and snacks. The service gets rave reviews and so does the food. Given the small size of the hotel with just 113 rooms and suites, the pool and beach aren’t overflowing with piles of parents and kids.

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The Somerset Pool and Grounds

The Somerset | Turks & Caicos

When I think of a Gilligan’s Island-style getaway, I think of the Turks & Caicos. I haven’t been there yet, but I’ve interviewed many people who have and swear the water and sand are the best they’ve seen anywhere. Luxury Travel Mom reviewed The Somerset for us.

When Kim-Marie Evans, a seriously discerning traveler,  tests a luxury hotel with her four kids in tow and swears it’s kid-friendly and amazing, we know a hotel’s a keeper. Top-notch condos paired with pampering at every turn ensure families leave relaxed and refreshed.

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Winter Wonderland

Resort at Squaw Creek Lobby Lounge in Winter

Resort at Squaw Creek | California

Resort at Squaw Creek in Squaw Valley, California has every kid-friendly winter activity imaginable at your doorstep. Skiing? Check. Dog sledding? Check. Ice skating? Check. What is not available at the resort is accessible in the greater Lake Tahoe region. Squaw Valley just unveiled a massive investment for the 2012 ski season — we’ll be there in January to cover it on Ciao Bambino.

The resort features condos with kitchen facilities so you can take the edge off ski pricing by eating quick meals in the room. In the mean time, their Kids Ski, Skate, and Sled Free package includes daily free lift tickets for kids, free sledding, and skating. Yahoo!

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Condo Living Room at Lodge at Steamboat

The Lodge at Steamboat | Colorado

When you think about the best Colorado skiing for families, Steamboat always makes the list. See my review of Steamboat Springs Resort for my thoughts on why it’s worth a trip with kids. The Lodge at Steamboat makes an excellent home-base. Condo-style guest units are managed with care and quality is consistent.

For value, these accommodations are a winner and families are just a 5-minute shuttle ride to the ski area. Steamboat Springs is remote enough that it’s not a good candidate for a weekend getaway unless you live in Colorado. We love it, however, for a 4-7 day family ski trip!

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Top Notch Resort Indoor Swimming Pool

Top Notch Resort and Spa | Vermont

When we need Vermont insider information our first stop is Find and Go The brains behind the operation, Dana Freeman, has tried and tested kid-friendly properties up and down the state. She loves Topnotch Resort and reviewed it for the Ciao Bambino portfolio. Accommodation options for families include suites or fully equipped resort homes.

Either way, they’re luxurious with rustic-chic furnishings and access to year-rounds swimming and a spa with a laundry list of parent-approved treatments.

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Hotel Bodmi Winter Exterior

Hotel Bodmi | Switzerland

Is it worth it to travel all the way to Europe to ski with kids? My answer is that it depends on where you go. I know families who are hooked on coming to this side of the pond for their annual ski trip. The reasons vary but one consistent motivating factor is the terrain. You’re skiing mountains (not runs)  — which can mean that you take a gondola up once and ski for hours without waiting in another line.

Add insane mountain scenery to the mix and outdoor-loving families will be in a “pinch-me is it real” state-of-mind. I spent some time in the Jungfrau Region last summer and fell in love with all there is to see and do. Winter is equally as outrageous. Our pick for a cozy family-friendly lodging is Hotel Bodmi, a 3-star hotel that feels like a 4-star which is good for the wallet, even with the challenging exchange rate.

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Holidays at Resort at Paws Up in Montan

The Resort at Paws Up | Montana

Montana is on my bucket list and any trip will include a stop at The Resort at Paws Up. This exclusive and luxurious resort is a consistent award-winner. They just sent me information about their Holiday Season program and it looks like the ultimate getaway for a pampered white Christmas. In addition to the usual suspects, winter activities in Montana include indoor horseback riding and snowmobiling.

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Urban Adventures

Lungarno Suites Guest Room with Arno View

Lungarno Suites | Florence

There’s no question that it can be unpleasant to walk around a city in the snow and rain trying to make the most out of sightseeing. In places like Florence, however, that are so overrun with tourists during peak travel months, dealing with the elements may be well worthwhile. The city transforms over the winter months to a place where you hear more Italian than English, plus you can get crisp, bluebird days that are fantastic.

When swimming is not an option, staying in the heart of the city is optimal. Ferragamo family-owed Lungarno Suites is one of our original Ciao Bambino recommended hotels and we still stand by it as a terrific option with kids as the all-suite units are stylish, spacious, and feature kitchenette facilities. Be sure and request a room with an Arno River view.

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Hotel Vondel Lobby Lounge

Hotel Vondel | Amsterdam

As someone said to me the other day, “I think Amsterdam may be just as cloudy and cold as London.” Yep, a little known fact for those who haven’t been there is that London gets a bad rap but many other European cities are in the same boat. The rub is that cold days are possible in the summer months too, so why don’t visit when hotels are less expensive.

Hotel Vondel is a hip hotel for families with a home-like living room area filled with books and art. When you aren’t sightseeing, relaxing in this lounge is an absolute pleasure. Room categories include suites and apartments with kitchenette facilities.

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Something Unforgettable

Elephants Masai Mara Kenya

We spent our February vacation in Kenya and Tanzania last year with AndBeyond on a luxury family safari. Although we missed the migration, we had terrific weather and escaped what I hear can be a sea of vehicles during the peak summer months. AndBeyond covers many different markets in Africa — I wholeheartedly recommend this company for families irrespective of your destination for an unbelievable level of service and personalization.

Click here to contact AndBeyond for more information

When I think about Africa, I must also mention Kensington Tours. We just finished a fantastic trip to Morocco. I just started my series on the blog with a planning tips post,  I’d save Morocco for spring as the winter can be rainy but in the meantime, I wouldn’t hesitate to use Kensington Tours for other adventure itineraries in Africa.

Click here for Kensington Tours contact details

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