All in the Family

Children’s programs throughout Oahu include every member of the family

By: By Marty Wentzel


Aston Hotels and Resorts
JW Marriott Ihilani Resort & Spa
Hilton Hawaiian Village
Hyatt Regency Waikiki
Kahala Hotel & Resort
Outrigger Hotels & Resorts
Sheraton Waikiki
Turtle Bay Resort

Lei making is a simple and easy way to include members of the family from all generations. // (c) Hilton Family Hawaii
Lei making is a simple and easy way to include members of the family from all generations.

For years, Oahu hotels have offered keiki (children’s) programs providing activities for young guests while their parents spent time with each other. Now, however, resorts are dreaming up distinctive ways for the generations to bond during their visit.

"With increasingly busy lifestyles, it’s more important than ever to spend quality time together as a family," said Sheraton Waikiki director of fun Richard Vidinha. "Rather than families having to plan activity schedules during their vacation, we can do this for them."

A case in point is the Sheraton’s Love Your Family program, with creative pastimes appealing to children and adults alike. Mom, dad and the kids can take part in on-property storytelling, stargazing and poolside dive-in movies along with Hawaii experiences like lei making and net fishing. The Sheraton’s new Helumoa Playground — Waikiki’s first superpool — sets the stage for additional family memories in and around the pools and slides. Agents might want to suggest booking the hotel’s Family Fun package, which provides a special family check-in area, arrival amenities, connecting rooms or a suite, a crib or rollaway bed, $100 daily activity credit, kids cup for unlimited drinks, an evening ritual and free meals for the kids under five.

At the JW Marriott Ihilani Resort & Spa in west Oahu, parent-and-child relationships can grow as families learn about Hawaii’s sea creatures. During the Hawaiian Ray Experience,
clients and their children can join an interactive touch session with friendly Hawaiian rays and graceful spotted eagle rays. On a Reef Safari, family members of all ages can get up close and personal with reef creatures like sea cucumbers and sea stars. The gang can even feed reef sharks together.

Family-friendly fun has popped up at the Kahala Hotel & Resort as well. Before the clan gets to Oahu, the resort’s Flight to Hawaii activity packs keep them entertained on the plane. Upon arrival at the hotel, each child receives a welcome gift and a VIP card good for unlimited beverages. The Kahala further encourages meaningful family time through its Dolphin Quest program, allowing clients to interact with the hotel’s six Atlantic Bottlenose dolphins in its 26,000-square-foot natural lagoon.

Meanwhile, Outrigger Hotels & Resorts’ Island Explorer program is designed to send the tribe out into Oahu’s unique natural environment. At check-in, kids receive a kit with a backpack, sunglasses, pen, binoculars and adventure/exploration guide. The whole family can learn nature skills like preparing for a hike, conducting ecologically safe explorations and identifying nature’s gifts along the shoreline or in the forests.

Aston Hotels and Resorts has found continued success with its Stay, Play and Eat Free program. It sets the stage for family outings by offering children free admission to top island attractions when the grownups come along for the fun. Aston provides free lodging and meals for the kids when accompanied by a paying adult. And, the chain presents youngsters with great amenities, from beach balls at the Aston Pacific Monarch to sand pails and shovels at the Aston Waikiki Circle Hotel.

Of course, Oahu hotels still present programs just for children, like Hyatt Regency Waikiki’s Camp Hyatt, Hilton Hawaiian Village’s Rainbow Express Keiki Club and the Keiki Turtle Club at Turtle Bay Resort. But the increasing emphasis on programs for the entire family translates into new opportunities for togetherness in the tropics.