Hawaiian Family // © 2013 Stephanie Horrocks
Spring break getaways are an ideal way for families to take time out and bond during the hectic school year. Most families with school-age children have a week-long vacation — some families even have as many as two weeks — to relax and rejuvenate around Easter and Passover. Planning some downtime in a warm destination can combat lingering winter blues. While safety issues are always a concern when traveling with the family, at no time is this more highlighted than during spring break. Rowdy teens and college students descend on beaches around the world, giving the travel season a dubious reputation. Although spring break is sometimes associated with punishing drinking sessions and fleeting love connections, there are many places where families can escape the melee and enjoy some family bonding time on the beach.
Why it’s great: Nothing beats a Hawaiian vacation, and spring break is a great time to head to the islands for a relaxing getaway. Hawaii is particularly attractive for West Coast clients who only need a week or less to experience the islands thanks to convenient flight times and a better time change. For spring break, a smaller island, such as Kauai, provides an intimate family experience as well as an authentic Hawaiian vacation.
Where to go: One of the best hotels is the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa. The hotel is large, with plenty of onsite dining options such as Tidepools and the Ilima Terrace. The staff is helpful and friendly, and guests with children benefit from the Camp Hyatt kids program, which offers great Hawaiian activities for all ages as well as a chance for adults to escape to the Anara Spa — one of the largest on the island. One of the resorts’ little-known family-friendly features is the pools, which are open 24 hours. Got little ones with jet lag? No problem. Make them swim some midnight laps.
Why it’s great: Looming safety warnings may be preventing clients from booking trips to Mexico, especially when they are going with small children. But there is no need to hold back — especially in popular tourist destinations such as Cancun, Puerto Vallarta, the Riviera Maya, Mazatlan and Acapulco, which are far from any danger.
Where to go: Cancun is an iconic destination for spring breakers of all ages and, just because adults have children, doesn’t mean that they have to miss out on grown-up time. Those with budding rock stars on their hands should definitely head to the the Hard Rock Hotel Cancun, where the year-round kids’ club, the Little Big Club, has kids singing, dancing and playing with some of their favorite characters such as Thomas the Tank Engine, Barney, Angelina Ballerina and Bob the Builder. Children will become part of the show, too, as they make a guest appearance with their new friends during a stage performance.
Why it’s great: White-sand beaches, beautiful suites, hotels overlooking the water, fabulous food and five-star resorts: These are the reasons why travelers are consistently drawn to the Caribbean. Couples who might have honeymooned here do not have to give up the romance in order to take a family-friendly getaway. The Dominican Republic, home to both five-star luxury and family-friendly properties, offers a variety of options that appeal to guests of every age level.
Where to go: Club Med Punta Cana is spread over a gorgeous white crescent of sand with a capsized pirate ship to boot. Children will love the hands-on kids club with activities such as trapeze, junior chef programs and T-shirt dying as well as plenty of splash time in the pool. The GO’s (gracious organizers) that operate the kids’ club will even put the babies to bed during pajama club each evening. While the little ones are making sand sculptures, parents can unwind in the brand-new Club Med L’Occitane Spa.
Why it’s great: While Daytona Beach is a spring break mecca, it’s not the only Florida locale that beckons during the months of March and April. Florida is blessed with a year-round temperate climate and families can avoid the hectic crowds by chilling out in St. Petersburg (St. Pete)/Clearwater with its stunning white-sand beaches and family-friendly activities. Adults will love St. Pete’s Salvador Dali Museum, and children will revel over the Sponge Docks in Tarpon Springs.
Where to go: Families have a vast array of lodging options from which to choose, with everything from luxury hotels and resorts to condos and roadside inns. Located on St. Pete Beach, the Tradewinds Island Grand and the Tradewinds’ Guy Harvey Outpost offer an ideal jumping off point for visitors to the area. The beachfront location offers numerous watersports activities such as diving, stand-up paddleboarding, surfing and more, and the town of St. Pete beckons with trendy cafes, shopping and museums.