I’m so incredibly lucky. My kids are great travelers and it’s rare we don’t have fun on a trip. But every now and then you have those trips that make you go Wow! We just got back from a Wow trip to the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort & Spa. It’s one of the best family-friendly resorts I’ve come across, and it’s located in the heart of Huntington Beach, California.
It’s one of those places where it’s okay to feel spoiled and escape the day to day craziness that comes along with my insanely busy family. A place where the only thing on my “to do” list is to relax and have fun with my girls.
Set on an expansive stretch overlooking California’s scenic Pacific Coast Highway and the Pacific Ocean, the property doesn’t skimp in the first impression category. When you go, plan on spending the first few hours getting happily lost. When I asked how big the property is I was told an employee once estimated it was like lining up ten football fields.
The Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort & Spa has 100-thousand square feet of meeting space. It’s a convention hotel — a convention hotel that loves families. Staying at the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach for pleasure instead of business comes with great perks. On Father’s Day weekend, the hotel was at capacity, but you wouldn’t have known it. For about half an hour one morning, my family had one of the five hot tubs all to ourselves. The main pool was empty as well.
If there was any question about the Resort’s desire to win over families, it was answered a few years ago when the four million dollar decision was made to rip out tennis courts and build Slyders Water Playground. Slyders has three fun but tame water slides complete with lifeguards. There’s also a 25 person hot tub, a wading pool for little ones, a family pool loaded with tubes and beach balls, and private cabanas complete with televisions for when you need a break from the sun.
Shubee’s Poolside Bar and Café serves up kids favorites like hot dogs, nachos and fruit smoothies. There’s nice sandwiches and salads for parents too! Even on a cloudy day, by lunch time the place is typically hopping.
What’s for Dinner?
Your family won’t go hungry during your stay. There are numerous food and restaurant options on the resort grounds. Surf City Grocers is a convenient place to grab snacks, sandwiches, muffins, coffee and even a nice bottle of wine. Tower 15 Pizzeria serves up good pizza. There’s only two small tables inside, so get it to go and eat outside by the fire pit and plan on s’mores for dessert. All the necessary fixings are plentiful at Surf City Grocers.
If you want a casual, but sit-down dinner, head to surf themed Pete’s Sunset Grille. The atmosphere is fun and upbeat and both the adult and kids’ menus are impressive. The huge bowl of crayons by the door screams kids are welcome.
An added plus in my book, there’s a general desire on the hotel’s part to recycle. Specially marked trash and recycling cans are all over the property, there are bags in all rooms specifically for recyclable items and the plastic cups used poolside are compostable.
Fabulous Family Programs
As much as my family loved the actual property, what makes me want to come back is the family programming. The Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort & Spa has some of the best family programs I’ve ever come across.
Go Fly a Kite
But first you have to make it. Kite specialist Dave Shenkman meets up with kids every Friday by Slyders pool to introduce them to the art of kite making and flying. Using kites with names like “Pinky” and “Rocky,” Shenkman explains the science behind kites, teaching kids and their parents about the different materials used to create the high flying toys. Then after reviewing kite flying safety rules, he helps kids build their own kites. (He walks them through step by step. Ages 7 and up can handle the task on their own.
Younger fliers may need some help from mom or dad.) Once everyone’s finished, it’s off to the beach to fly your new creation. All of the dozen newly made kites in our group took off without much effort. But the real show began when Shenkman brought out one of his favorite kites. After getting all the kids to lay down next to each other in the sand, he flew the kite just inches above them.
Pass after pass, hovering, then zipping by. But he doesn’t leave out the adults. For the grand finale, he flew the kite to where my husband was standing in the sand, tapped the brim of his baseball cap three times, then knocked it off of his head. The whole beach was cheering.
Surf City USA
Not much gets my 10-year-old daughter out of bed at before 8 am during summer vacation, but there was no complaining the morning of her surfing lesson with surfshop Toes on the Nose. Located on the Resort property, getting ready to get wet couldn’t have been easier. Along with her dad and two others, she zipped up her wetsuit and didn’t blink an eye when she jumped into the Pacific Ocean. For almost two hours the two young instructors patiently worked with her in the waves. You can tell they like what they do.
“Best job you could ask for,” said her 25-year-old surf instructor Ryan. The Huntington Beach native has taught for Toes on the Nose for six years and knows what kids like. Along with the surf lessons he helped my daughter hunt for sand crabs and sand dollars and then threw in a little body surfing.
The sand castles were already going up when my daughter’s surf lesson was wrapping up. She had to be convinced to go put on some dry clothes before digging in. Her sister had already hit it off with sandcastle contractor Marc Africano, and a sandy cityscape was coming together.
Along with his wife, Michelle, and teenage son Colton, Dig It! teaches families staying at the Hyatt how to make show stopping sandcastles together. Leave your shovels and buckets at home. The tools of the trade; mallets, straws, wooden skewers and a few other surprises will be waiting in the sand.
If your kids ever come back to the Resort, they’ll find activities like spray-on temporary tattoos and hair wraps being done by the Slyders pool. If they have any energy left when the sun sets, check and see if there’s a dive-in movie on the schedule. Get the s’mores fixings before the movie starts, the fire pits will be going.
Camp Hyatt Kids Club
If you’re thinking you might want a few hours to yourself to hit the Pacific Waters Spa or take a quiet walk on the Huntington Beach Pier, check the kids into Camp Hyatt. I have to admit I was worried my girls might have outgrown the camp option, but the active kids’ club was a huge hit, even with my soon-to-be teenager.
Run by energetic college kids who are constantly customizing activities depending on campers ages and interests, it’d be hard for anyone not to have fun. At the end of the day, all campers leave with a sand bucket filled with goodies including a custom, Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort & Spa coloring book. Kids are reminded of places like the beach they played on, and pool they swam in. Parents are reminded of the Resort’s attention to detail.
All in all, it was a fabulous Father’s Day weekend. My girls pointed out that I spent Mother’s Day at a swim meet standing in the rain, so I guess my husband could say he’s lucky too!
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