More and more hotels and resorts are catering to families. If you need proof, just look at kids’ programming. Where quality kids’ clubs used to be an exception, these days they’re the norm at properties serious about attracting and engaging families. It’s not enough for a top resort or hotel to just have a pool, parents expect more and these days for good or bad, so do kids.
As a result, parents can enjoy a bit of time to themselves during vacations while their kids get to do things like go on turtle walks at The Breakers, in Palm Beach, Florida, or learn beekeeping basics at Carmel Valley Ranch in Northern California. I’ve come across a number of kids’ clubs that make me wish I was a kid again.
But while many resorts and hotels go to amazing lengths for school-aged kids, more often than not, the teenage set gets ignored, or even worse in most teens’ eyes, treated like, well, kids. Teens want to be around other teens. They don’t want to be with grown-ups, yet teenagers want grown-up experiences, making them a tricky demographic for properties to get right. And then there’s pleasing the parents. Given the choice of doing it well or not doing it at all, when it comes to teens, I think some hotels and resorts play it safe and prefer being less involved with their not quite yet adult guests.
Teenagers can be tricky to please at home, so why would traveling be any different? Between school, sports and the extra-curricular activities that many teens juggle these days, they understand all too well the, I need a vacation feeling. So when a vacation is disappointing, it’s natural for travelers, whatever their age, to be disappointed too.
Parents with a good amount of travel under their belt have been there, it’s just especially hard to hear the sentiment from teenage critics.
Some basic teen travel tips can make a big difference in your next family vacation. But just like you wouldn’t leave your school age child in a kids’ club that wasn’t comfortable and safe, you don’t want your teen hanging out in a setting that’s not safe or age appropriate either. There’s a big difference between 16-year-old boys and 13-year-old girls, so the setting in which they come together is important. Common sense and parental instinct go a long way.
Though not as plentiful as kids’ clubs, there are good programs out there, you just have to search a little harder. Smart properties have realized kids grow out of childrens’ programs, and if they want families to keep coming back, having fun and safe activities for teens is a must.
It’s also important to note, many teen programs, aren’t programs in the sense that they have a set start and end time. At many resorts, teen activities have a tendency to be loosely organized and open-ended, allowing teens the desired freedom to come and go as they please.
The design and layout of The Village at Squaw Valley gives teens the freedom they crave, with boundaries many parents can appreciate. Teens will enjoy skiing, staying and playing in the center of constant action. Home away from home is just steps away from the Squaw Valley Aerial Tram, skiing, a climbing wall and the lively Village. Loaded with restaurants, shops and open outdoor spaces with fire pits, it’s a great spot for teens to meet other teens. Reserve the right condo unit and parents can monitor the action above from the privacy of their balcony.
During a family vacation in Tuscany, teenagers will enjoy spending time with the family when taking a customized cooking class at Al Gelso Bianco. Teens can harvest needed supplies from the on-site garden or go shopping at the market for ingredients to prepare a traditional Tuscan meal.
The Manchester Grand Hyatt in San Diego takes keeping teens busy to new heights. Along with the expected pool and hot tub, there’s tennis, volleyball, shuffleboard, basketball and horse shoes all situated on a rooftop area that adds an extra element of fun. Fire pits near the pool are lit nightly for s’mores.
Request a pool room view and you can watch the sporting events from the floor-to-ceiling windows in your room, that is if you can take you eyes off of the great views of San Diego Bay. If you’re comfortable giving your teens a little more freedom to roam, Seaport Village is steps from the hotel’s back door.
Hawks Cay Resort, in the Florida Keys, has figured out the happy teenager, happy parent dynamic. Teens at Hawks Cay Resort are encouraged to take advantage of being in the Florida Keys by hitting the water to learn how to do things like kiteboard, kayak, stand-up paddleboarding and fishing. There are also a number of activities that can be used as the magnet that brings the whole family together, like dolphin encounters and snorkeling.
The Azul Beach Hotel is a boutique-style property near Cancun. Though the all-inclusive property specializes in catering to families with young children, the resort is intimate, providing a place where teens can safely enjoy some upscale freedom that includes luxuries like butler service to the resort’s canopied beach beds. The Vassa Spa especially woos teenage girls with special massage, facial and pedicure packages.
The Hotel Del Coronado, in Southern California, uses its location to engage visiting teenagers. Teens can spend the day in the water taking surf lessons, sailing, on paddleboards or kayaking. Bikes can also be rented to cruise around Coronado Island.
The Vibz Teen Lounge is popular when teens want to head inside. Located at the main pool, teens can play shuffleboard, pool, and foosball, while listening to music and meeting other teens. Parents will appreciate the room is bright and colorful, with no dark corners to get lost in. An added plus, most of the treatments offered at the Spa and Salon at The Del are also available for teens.
Families can use the s’mores and dive-in movie nights to lure their teens back for some family vacation time.
Have a favorite place to vacation with your teen or any tips for traveling with teens? We’d love to hear. Share and comment below. And if you need help planning a vacation with teens, we can help! Request assistance on our Connect with a Travel Advisor page.
Photos by Dana Rebmann
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