World’s best hotels and resorts for families
Fortunately, ‘luxury’ and ‘family-friendly’ aren’t mutually exclusive holiday styles. Whether it’s an all-inclusive beach holiday, a snow trip, ocean cruise or cultural experience you’re after, here are some of the world’s best places to stay on a family holiday, with something to please everyone. Adults can enjoy world-class cuisine, decadent spas and stunning settings, while the kids have plenty to do too, from fun activities in dedicated kids’ clubs to water sports and wildlife spotting.
1. Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort, Fiji
In addition to its stunning beaches, Fiji is well-known for its family-friendly culture, which extends to its world-class resorts. Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort is an excellent high-end option for families, with only 25 well-appointed ‘bures’ to stay in, adventure activities for all ages and a complimentary kids’ club. Hike, snorkel or paddle board, explore outlying islands or learn to dive while the kids embark on their own Fiji experience. At the Bula Kids’ Club, kids under five are allocated their own nanny, while those six to12 have a ‘buddy’ per group of five for cultural or conservation-based activities or even a cooking class.
2. Soneva Fushi, The Maldives
Offering a luxury hideaway feel, Soneva Fushi is located on one of the Maldives largest islands, between thick jungle and the sea in a UNESCO protected biosphere reserve. Families are extremely well catered for here, with the newly designed kids’ club, The Den. It features much to occupy kids and capture their imaginations, from the pirate ship and two swimming pools to the dress-up area, Lego room and music room full of instruments. Family-friendly activities at the resort range from dolphin cruises, snorkelling and kayaking, to cooking classes and picnics on deserted islands. With its beautiful spa and excellent dining options, Soneva Fushi has major adult appeal too.
3. Aulani Disney Resort and Spa, Oahu, Hawaii
Aulani Disney Resort and Spa is a huge, family-friendly resort located on beautiful Oahu, yet removed from the crowds of Waikiki. Kids will love the huge range of swimming pools and water activities, from the splash zone to tubing rides and waterslides. Adults are also catered for with a quieter infinity pool and the more secluded Wailana Pool, for guests aged over 18. It’s the perfect escape for when the kids are occupied at Aunty’s Beach House, a supervised activities centre with games and Disney movies on tap. The whole family can enjoy guided walks and storytelling sessions around the firepit. The resort has been voted ‘World’s Best Family Beach Resort’ by readers of Travel + Leisure Magazine.
4. &Beyond Kichwa Tembo, Kenya
This stunning tented camp offers an up-close wildlife experience in the foothills of Kenya’s Olooloolo Escarpment. Kichwa Temboconsists of 40 luxury tents, including three family suites, with a limited number of triple rooms. Older kids will be enthralled with the game drives and wilderness safaris, and there’s a pool to relax in afterwards. It is worth noting that children younger than six are unable to participate in game drives, however, babysitting is available. Kids can also participate in the camp’s WILDchild program offering interactive cultural activities, and families can embark on excursions, such as visiting an elephant orphanage.
5. One&Only Hayman Island, Australia
Located on Hayman Island in Queensland’s stunning Whitsundays, One&Only is a super-glamourous resort that has an exclusive feel, yet still caters beautifully for families. Kids will revel in the stunning scenery and wildlife encounters. Butterfly walks, kayaking adventures and helicopter rides over the reef await, and there’s plenty of pool and beach relaxation opportunities too. Regarding room types, those with smaller children may prefer the ease of a ground-floor room in the Hayman wing, while families with teens will enjoy the beach villas. Kids aged four to 11 can partake in activities in the kids’ club, with a separate program geared to the interests of 12 to 17-year-olds.
6. LUX Tea Horse Road, Lijiang, China
China offers a fascinating travel experience for families, with its delicious cuisine, beautiful landscapes, historical and cultural sites plus its sheer scale. A stay at LUX Tea Horse Road provides a wonderful base to explore Lijiang in Yunnan province, a charming ancient town home to the Naxi people. The hotel reflects Lijiang’s traditional design elements, and it also caters wonderfully to families. You can borrow bicycles to explore the town, go horse riding, or learn to recreate the Naxi’s photographic script called Dongba. Guests of all ages will have an unforgettable cultural experience, and young and old will appreciate the property’s beautiful aesthetics.
7. Shangri-La Rasa Ria Resort, Kota Kinabalu, Borneo
A stay at the beautiful Shangri-La Rasa Ria combines the relaxing aspects of a beach break with an immersion in a fascinating culture. Kids can learn about traditional crafts unique to the region, and try their hand at batik painting, instrument making and hand puppet creating. There are more energetic pursuits such as dance lessons and paddle boarding, or gardening programs catering specifically for kids. The rainforest setting holds major family appeal, and kids can also join in the resort’s ‘Ranger for a Day’ program, with an opportunity to feed the island’s famed orangutans. The Kids’ Club and pool complete with waterslide round out the family-friendly offerings.
8. The St Regis Aspen Resort, Colorado, USA
Aspen offers the quintessential luxe ski experience. One of its best properties, the St Regis, is an elegant high-end option for an unforgettable family holiday. The hotel’s décor is modelled on late 19th-century mountain lodges. There are a beautiful spa and high-end dining, and a super-convenient mountain-base location. In addition to skiing and snowboarding, families can take a two-hour dog sled ride, or embark on a snowmobile adventure. There are activities tailored to specific age groups too, such as sledding and art classes for the five to nine set, and bowling or even hot-air ballooning for teens. The St Regis offers all the glamour of a big, decadent hotel that guests of all ages will enjoy.
9. Crystal Cruises
An ocean cruise is a fabulous style of family holiday with something for everyone. It has a dedicated kids’ clubs and activities, swimming, and of course, the lure of all-you-can-eat buffets are so much fun for kids. While they’re occupied, parents can indulge in spa treatments, swim or simply read and relax. Crystal Cruises is a luxury brand, perfect for families who want more space and facilities than typical 3-star family cruise options. The Junior Activities program caters for three to 17-year-olds, with Xboxes, Playstations, new release kids’ movies and a vast range of other fun activities. Both the Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity ships feature some inter-connecting family rooms.
10. Club Med Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
Located on beautiful Hispaniola Island in the Dominican Republic, Club Med Punta Cana offers a beach holiday with so much to do. Set between a coconut grove and a 600-metre long beach, Punta Cana is an idyllic resort that caters for all ages, in true Club Med fashion. There are kids’ clubs organised by age group, with care available for babies aged from four months, right through to adventure sports, creative activities and entertainment for older kids and teens. A unique offering is a creative playground featuring Cirque de Soleil-inspired acrobatic activities. When the kids are occupied, adults can retreat to the Zen Oasis zone, play golf or unwind at the spa.