My annual visit to the International Luxury Travel Market (ILTM) show in Cannes, France, last month was packed with amazing discoveries. Luxury Family Travel is going gangbusters as our favorite brands are adding new hotels with family-friendly rooms, as well as creative kids’ amenities and programs. I also learned about new boutique hoteliers who are catering to families. I love that the luxury market for families is continuing to grow … our outrageously wonderful luxury travel options around the world are limitless right now.
Four Seasons opened its long-anticipated resort in Orlando last fall to rave reviews. With 443 rooms on 26 acres, by acreage and amenities, it’s the biggest Four Seasons hotel in the world. But the size rewards are sweet as room selections include options with kitchen facilities, as well as multi-room suites and even a 9-bedroom option for extra-large families. There’s a water park and family playground onsite, Explorer Island. Parents seeking solo time will appreciate Orlando’s sole adults-only pool with underwater audio and 13,000-square-foot spa.
Fifty percent of the rooms in the new Park Hyatt Vienna connect, making it optimal for families who want to spread out. Rooms are the biggest in the city at 50 square meters and located right in the picturesque pedestrian-only zone, with walking access to all of Vienna’s main attractions. A 100-year-old bank building was transformed into this palace-style hotel masterpiece using precious materials, including onyx and mother of pearl. No wonder the design awards have started flowing.
Although the Wickaninnish Inn on Vancouver Island has been on my bucket list forever, I had no idea that it is kid-friendly for all ages. They offer free babysitting to parents who want to enjoy The Point, its fine dining restaurant. And for time outside of the hotel, the list of local, unique activities is massive and includes surfing, bear watching, fishing, paddle boarding, whale watching, and kayaking. The list goes on — who knew that Vancouver Island is bigger than England?
One of my most exciting finds at ILTM was that Baglioni Hotels is focused on new, fresh experiences across their portfolio in Europe. Case in point: The Regina Hotel Baglioni Rome opened a 560-square-meter accommodation, the Roman Penthouse Suite, with panoramic views of the city from 290 square meters of terrace bliss. With three bedrooms, two living rooms, four bathrooms, and a private kitchen, the only issue may be wanting to leave the hotel to explore the city.
Pikachu fans take note, The Peninsula Tokyo opened an awesome interactive Pokémon experience in October. Word has it that the adults are appreciating this activity as much as the kids. I love the extraordinary effort that The Peninsula Hotels consistently puts into their Peninsula Academy, creating customized programs for adults and children to experience each of their 10 destinations meaningfully.
I never considered the Conrad brand family-oriented, but I learned that their market demand from families is growing and that they are adding amenities accordingly. To that end, Conrad Algarve hosts a fun-filled kids’ club for ages 3 to 12, as well as a games room. Given the beachfront location with a laundry list of activities, the Conrad is now officially on Ciao Bambino’s beach vacation bucket list.
Hospitality is a way of life at Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts and families are particularly beloved at their resort properties in Asia, which feature Cool Zones for different ages. Shangri-La’s Rasa Ria Resort, Kota Kinabalu, is a family favorite, given their Nature Reserve with an orangutan rehabilitation center where kids can meet and help rangers care for these amazing animals.
We love the fresh and modern Nira Alpina in St. Moritz, Switzerland, for families. Now, Nira Hotels has just opened the 55-room Nira Montana in La Thuile, Italy. The property offers an open-plan Junior Suite that sleeps four people, as well as connecting rooms. Nira’s treasured kids’ club will be in full swing, which includes shuttling kids out to lessons and the slopes.
Ellenborough Park, a member of Preferred Hotel Group and certified in their Preferred Family program, is one of my favorite discoveries at ILTM this year. This Cotswolds getaway is in the heart of England’s gorgeous countryside with a massive garden, heated outdoor pool, and easy access to Oxford, Bath, and all of the other great attractions in this area. An Alice in Wonderland-themed afternoon tea ensures that kids are able to partake happily in wonderful English traditions.
The world’s first Nobu in Africa, at One&Only Cape Town, just launched a Nobu KidsOnly gourmet platter, where kids can take part in the Nobu culinary experience. And if the kids decide they love their new Nobu diet, they can join Nobu’s Art of Sushi Making class.
Terre Blanche, located in the countryside between Provence and the Côte d’Azur, used to be managed by Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts. We experienced this lovely resort a few years ago. I met with the current management team at ILTM and learned that all of the fantastic resort infrastructure that we experienced is still in place, including the extensive kids’ programming. Terre Blanche resort has an incredible kids’ club facility, as well as family and adults-only swimming pools.
Part of the esteemed Oetker Collection, Fregate Island Private is comprised of just 16 villas on their own private island, providing the ultimate exclusive family adventure. Children are immersed in a nature and discovery program, where they learn from biologists about local flora and fauna such as sea turtles and giant tortoises. Everything is bespoke; guests eat where and when they want. They can even request to have their own private beach for the afternoon.
Mandarin Oriental, Paris, just launched their first children’s sleepwear collection by Mandarin Oriental, Paris and Paul Smith Junior. These stylish PJs are available for children up to 7 years old. As you can see from the photo above, even MiniMo, Mandarin Oriental’s panda mascot, is in the fashion spirit. The sleepwear is available as part of the hotel’s Family Travel by Paul Smith Junior offer. I stayed at this exquisite hotel when it opened; guests are left wanting for nothing.
Located just one hour and 15 minutes from Buenos Aires, La Bamba de Areco offers colonial luxury at this estancia with deep gaucho roots and history, set in a magnificent park. From September until April it’s polo season and the team practices here. Nearby San Antonio de Areco is filled with artisans and history. Offering just 11 rooms named after polo ponies, this is a place for families to gather and appreciate one another in a private, luxurious setting.
Part of the Ritz-Carlton Reserve collection, Phulay Bay offers 54 villas on 50 acres of land in exotic Krabi, Thailand. This intimate property opens its doors to families during holiday periods with their own version of Ritz Kids, which offers personalized daily activities to explore the rich jungle and marine environment surrounding the resort. A highlight must surely be enjoying sunset with the resort’s resident baby elephant, Koko.
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This is a challenging time for our clients given the uncertainty around the spread of coronavirus, particularly for those with near-term travel plans in impacted areas. We’re working with our suppliers on being flexible with their booking conditions, and enabling families to postpone travel to a later date without a penalty, when possible. Likewise, given the unpredictability around destinations that may be impacted in the future, we’re helping clients planning new trips and understand ways that they can protect themselves until the situation improves. We are ready to help our clients work through questions and concerns.
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