Join the Club

The same-old, same-old doesn’t fly with the younger generation, so resorts are offering new attractions

By: By Janeen Christoff

Family Travel

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Tricked-out kids clubs are all the rage this year. Family-friendly resorts from Mexico to the Caribbean are targeting kids, tweens and teens with a variety of amenities made especially for them. And these clubs aren’t just great for the little ones. Parents also get the benefit of knowing that their children are in safe hands while they relax and enjoy a vacation.

For families with children of various ages, the recently reopened and renovated Club Med Ixtapa Pacific is ideal. The resort offers more than just one club for kids; it has a different club for every age group — from brand-new babies to hard-to-please teens.

Kids play with a Fisher-Price Kid Tough Digital Camera on the beach.  // (c) Fisher-Price
Kids play with a Fisher-Price Kid Tough Digital Camera on the beach. 

To start, Club Med makes it easy for even the youngest travelers to visit, providing a Baby Welcome to parents traveling with kids under age 2. The welcome amenity includes a crib, changing pad, a bottle warmer and a high chair, as well as a stroller for wheeling around the grounds. There’s even a "baby corner" — or as I like to call it, a baby-food buffet — in the main restaurant, which is stocked with yogurt, formula, several different kinds of baby food and more. And since the resort is all-inclusive, even the baby buffet is all-you-can-eat.

Of course, when it comes to keeping the little ones busy, Club Med is second to none. The resort has four levels of kids’ clubs, starting with Baby Club Med for children as young as four months. Petit Club Med takes children from 2 to 4 years old. And both programs closely monitor children with a 4 to 1 ratio of children to staff. Older kids spend their time in either Mini Club Med — which just celebrated its 40th anniversary — or Junior’s Club Med, for children ages 11 to under 18. Kids participate in everything from the Circus School and Hip Hop Kidz, which puts on a show in the theater one night a week, to the Explorers Science Club and the resort’s Petit Chef program, which teaches cooking basics and healthy eating. 888-932-2582 

Fisher-Price and Azul Hotels, by Karisma have joined together to launch a kids program at the hotel brand’s new gourmet, all-inclusive properties. The exclusively designed play space will feature a toy lending library, kid’s check-in, playgroup sessions and more for children under the age of 5.

"We are thrilled to be working with Fisher-Price to enhance the guest experience at Azul Hotels by Karisma for young children and their families," said Mandy Chomat, vice president of sales and marketing for Premier Worldwide Marketing, exclusive representatives for Azul Hotels by Karisma.

The new Azulitos Kid’s Program will open in conjunction with Azul Hotel’s new family-friendly properties — Azul Sensatori Hotel, by Karisma and Azul Fives Hotel, by Karisma in the Riviera Maya as well as at the Azul Beach Hotel, by Karisma, located on a nine-mile stretch of beach on Bahia Petempitch in Puerto Morelos, Mexico. The Azul Sensatori will open Oct. 1, as will the Azulitos Kids program at Azul Beach Hotel. Azul Fives Hotel will open Dec. 1.

Preschoolers are certainly reaping the benefits of resorts catering specifically to their needs these days — and Fisher-Price isn’t the only company vying for kids’ attention while on vacation. Beaches Resorts — ranked one of the 10 best family resorts by Parents magazine — has long partnered with Sesame Street at its kids clubs, where fun for the whole family means an Xbox 360 Game Garage, video game centers, Crayola Art Camps and a varied schedule of age-appropriate activities and childcare for families.

This year, Elmo is sweetening the deal for the preschool set. "Abby and Elmo Make Music Magic" is a new stage show, which is part of Beaches Resorts WonderFall season specifically targeted at children. WonderFall also includes family learning adventures hosted by Sesame Workshop; a new, female Sesame Street character, Abby Cadabby; a live show with Gordon and Elmo; Beaches Dive-In movies; the "Baby, You’re a Star" photo contest; and the ColorFall Crayola Birthday Bash, celebrating the Crayola 64 Box’s 50th birthday.

In addition, the resort is offering special WonderFall Savings. Guests booking a seven-night stay through October will receive two nights free, 45 percent off rack rates and a special welcome gift pack. Rates start at $2,880 for a family of four.

Many new kids clubs are springing up around the globe and at the brand-new Sheraton Cable Beach Resort — situated on a 1,000-foot stretch of Cable Beach in Nassau, the Bahamas — recently opened the Sheraton Adventure Club, which offers unique activities like Bahamian arts and crafts, beach bowling, junior chef cooking classes, field trips to the Straw Market. Kids participating in the full-day, half-day or evening sessions receive meals and snacks at the Bimini Market, which offers kid-friendly items such as pizza, pasta, hamburgers, hot dogs, ice cream and more. Kids under 5 eat free, while kids 6-12 receive a 50 percent discount. Rates for the Adventure Club start at $25.

The Regent Palms Hotel on Grace Bay Beach in Turks and Caicos has added a new club designed to entertain younger guests. The Conch Kritters Club is open daily and offers half-day, full-day or evening activities for children ages 4-12. Children can play lawn croquette, tennis, create art projects and more. A healthy lunch or dinner from the set menu and a snack are included in the price of $90 per child for daytime, or $70 for evening, inclusive of dinner and an after-dinner movie for children participating in either the full-day or evening programs. Babysitters are also available to guests.