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Little Touches Go Long Way on Vacation with Kids

Matt Villano

When you’re traveling with children, it's the little things can make or break an entire trip. Continually wow your kid with tiny surprises and she’ll remember the trip forever. Consistently disappoint her and she’ll be whining about going home in no time.

I was reminded of this during the recent trip I took with my (3.5-year-old) daughter to Los Angeles. We stayed at the Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills, and three simple-but-awesome kid-specific gestures convinced my daughter that the property was, in fact, “the best hotel in the whole world.”

First on the list: A free stuffed animal. As we checked in, one of the guest services employees wheeled around a red wagon overflowing with stuffed giraffes, monkeys, elephants and more. She instructed my daughter to “pick one.” L practically couldn’t believe her ears.

Second: Her name in “lights.” When we got upstairs, we spotted L’s full name written in removable letters on the (glass) shower door.

And finally: Whatever kind of food she wanted.  During a meal at Culina, one of the on-site restaurants, servers moved off-menu and brought L quite literally everything she asked for—including a plate of 10 French fries.

The whole experience inspired me to hunt down similar amazing programs and benefits other hotels offer to make kids feel special. Some of the highlights:

  • The George, a Kimpton Hotel in Washington D.C., has a treasure chest from which all child-aged guests get to pick a prize upon check-in. The hotel also tries to deliver all kid guests milk and cookies at turndown. (As is always the case at Kimpton Hotels, guests here can arrange to have a goldfish in their rooms for the duration of each stay.)
  • At Park Hyatt Beaver Creek, in Avon, Colo., the team at 8100 Mountainside Bar & Grill recently launched complimentary teen-focused cooking classes that include themes such as basic knife skills, gourmet pizza making, sushi rolling, cold weather “mocktails” and lessons on how to make barista-style coffees at home.
  • The Azul Beach Hotel by Karisma, in Riviera Maya, Mexico, offers all kids access to Azulitos Play House, a kids’ club that features a Fisher-Price Toy Lending Library, My Gym Children’s Fitness Center, and a host of other activities, including mini-yoga, crafts, face-painting.

These aren’t the only resorts doing cool stuff; check out this Ciao Bambino post about a fun summer experience for kids at the Omni Interlocken Resort in Broomfield, Colo.

The takeaway from all of these programs is simple: Family vacations are fun, but family vacations at places with touches designed to make kids feel special are, well, funner. Sometimes the little things really do make a big difference.

Have you stayed at a hotel with extraordinary kids offerings? If so, leave a comment and tell us more.

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