Spring 2009
Top Ten Hotels in the World for Families 

Brussels -- As the old saying goes, If the kids are happy then everyone is happy. Oh, the irony, right? Yet we've scoured the globe and compiled a list of the best-ever city, ski and sun family destinations that get high marks from families. Here are the top-rated recommendations from UrbanCrayonPress.com's travel blog. What did we miss or leave out? (Disney and Hawaii – they are in class act all onto their own.)

Here is the roundup of contenders as follows:

# 10 HILTON MOLINO STUCKY, Venice, Italy
WHAT'S IN IT FOR THE KIDS: It's a super-luxury hotel that boosts the city's first rooftop swimming pool offering sweeping views of the town and hills. The hotel, a converted flour mill does not offer an extensive children's club facility, but in a city where taxis, cars and buses are not allowed and are conveniently replaced by vaporett ( public boats) and gondolas - kids are sure to be entertained. The hotel offers a complimentary shuttle boat -- recall boats and walking over bridges in Venice is like as common as crossing the street -- into St. Marks Square, offering up yet another adventure for kids. Cooking classes headed by the hotel Pastry Chef and learning how to steer a gondola get top-billing here. Be sure to request a room overlooking the canal where kids can wake up and count the ships sailing by their hotel room. Food options: Venice and kids share the same staple diet – pizza, pasta and ice cream. Breakfast at the hotel is well-suited for even the pickiest of eaters.

# 9 ONE & ONLY PALMILLA, San Jose del Cabo, Mexico
WHAT'S IN IT FOR THE KIDS: Spectacular views of the Baja peninsula and rugged coastline dominate this to die-for location that's outfitted with highly trained staff. Kids will want to dive right in and play on the meandering river that connects the kids' pool to an infinity pool overlooking the sea. But, the real fun begins in the complimentary Kids Only club. It's available for children from four to eleven years old.
Child-friendly activities include: Yoga classes, beach volleyball, horseshoes, beach tug-of-war, football and soccer matches, and much more. Kids can also ride horses on the beach, take Spanish classes, piñata-making classes, cooking lessons, and even sessions on the art of origami. All rooms are outfitted with the latest upscale baby products. At bedtime one of the staff members from the Kids Only club will come to the room and read a story over milk and cookies.

# 8 THE TYLER PLACE FAMILY RESORT, Highgate Springs,Vermont
WHAT'S IN IT FOR THE KIDS: An all-inclusive summer-only resort for families featuring endless amounts of sing-alongs, campfires, healthy meals and lake shore cottages. For the past 75 years this award-winning resort in Vermont has been creating wholesome and old-fashioned summer camp memories galore. Reservations are on a week-to week basis, only. It's all camp-style -- no TVs are in the rooms. Guests are encouraged to ditch their cars and are provided a bike to use for the duration of their week-long stay. This car-free element is a signature piece of the Tyler Place.
The kids’ day camps are called “groups” and they are split into nine categories according to age of the child. Each group has its own clubhouse and is headed by a counselor. Endless amounts of swimming, boat rides, fishing trips, kayaking, nature outings, and of course pizza, movies and pajama parties. It's truly a terrific and wholesome week at camp - as it could ever get.

# 7 GRAND HOTEL CENTRAL, Barcelona, Spain
WHAT'S IN IT FOR THE KIDS: Located in the heart of Barcelona, this hip, cool and affordable hotel offers a rooftop infinity pool like no other in town. The friendly and smiling staff fall for kids big-time here. The complimentary mini bar (it's stocked full on a daily basis) is a nice welcome touch for kids to enjoy. There are no kids club facilities here, but it’s an ideal stay for older children. Why? The hotel offers a “Barcelona & Kids” package that amply compensates: Two Nights in a Suite Room, buffet breakfast for the entire family, transfer service from the Hotel to Barcelona Airport, a free guide to Barcelona, free hire of children's DVDs and four tickets and Q-jump for the Aquarium.

# 6 CLUB MED LA PLAGNE 2100, Aime, France
WHAT'S IN IT FOR THE KIDS: A luxury all-inclusive hideaway snuggled in-between the snow-capped French Alps. It’s all about skiing here, or at least learning how to ski. The hotel runs a first-rate ski package for children that combines child-care, ski tuition including ski gear and of course, evening entertainment. There are two well-outfitted kids' clubs. One for juniors aged 4-10, the other for 11 to 17 year olds. Both groups are divided into a variety of ski-levels. Best bet: The “skis-on” access to the slopes – can't be beat. By the end of week, kids could quite possibly be geared up for the Winter Olympics in 2014 due to the excellent ski instructor quality found here. Teens rave about the nearby Olympic bobsled track
(it’s used by the French Olympic team) where one can ride on a self-guided sleigh at the speed of 50mph.

# 5 PONTE VEDRE INN AND CLUB, Jacksonville, Florida

WHAT'S IN IT FOR THE KIDS: The well-guarded secret is out finally. This one-of-kind property sits on the Atlantic as part of the collection of the Leading Hotels network while the other half of the hotel operates quite literally, as a country club. Members and hotel guests never had it so good where they while the day away. What's on hand here are the best-ever facilities for children with endless amounts of entertainment and comprehensive children's camps offered year round. It's a dead end-tie here between the quality of instruction at the Championship Golf and Tennis Academy for children- it's one of Florida's best top-notch facilities. Additional fun factor: Kids are driven around the hotel's property via golf carts. It's the hotel's mode of transportation.

# 4 VILLA VITA PARC RESORT & SPA, Algarve, Portugal
WHAT'S IN IT FOR THE KIDS: This cliff-top location with superb sea views is repeatedly ranked as one of the best places in Europe for guaranteed sunshine most of the year. Excellent kids facilities include: Three children's swimming pools, endless sports programs – golf, tennis, surfing and sailing lessons to name a few. Also spa treatments for children are available. The resort offers a number of kids clubs. Natalies Crèche is for infants from 6 months to 3 years old. Annabella’s Kid’s Park can entertain children from 4 to 11 years old featuring painting, nature walks and off-site trips. There is also a teenager's club which runs a number of teen activities for children aged from 12 and above with activities including volleyball, snooker, football, beach games, a jeep safari and a disco night once a week. The hotel is incredibly well-equipped with all infant amenities: From highchairs to car seats to on-site store purchases for diapers and baby food. Room accommodation is a big plus: interconnecting rooms or family suites available.

# 3 SUGAR BEACH, Flic-n-Flac, Mauritius
THE DIGS OVER AT THE KID’S CLUB: Designed in the style of an old colonial sugar plantation, the atmosphere here carries a colonial ambience, yet is flavored with all the features you expect from a modern resort hotel. The Kids Club is based on the fairytale world of Hansel and Gretel and styled on the theme of the gingerbread house equipped with adorable over sized candy statues and soda-pop shaped-showers for kids to use after they have played in the pool. Within the kids’ club area is a gated pool and a super slide for those aged between 2 and 7, an industrial type, “Little Tykes” playground that Hansel and Gretel would envy and an outdoor terraced dining area equipped with an exclusive kid-friendly chef. Pony rides and off-property excursions are included. The kids club is free for all guests to enjoy. Children are divided into three age groups, 2 to 4, 5 to 7 and 8 to11. Babysitters are required for children under 2 and are available at an extra charge. A teens club offers state-of-the-art entertainment. Added bonus: Its sister property, the One & Only Le Touressrok offers guests a two-night stay option at their property, included in the rate stay at Sugar Beach.

WHAT'S IN IT FOR THE KIDS: The indoor pool is generally the preferred winner here with kids. The staff certainly knows how to entertain young guests. Hotel rooms are well- stocked with French and English children's books, kid-size robes and slippers and child-sized toiletries from Hermes. Additional services include: young gourmands are geared up in culinary gear and receive a one-hour pastry class headed by the hotel's chief pastry chef. Also on-hand is a story-book reading and milk-and-cookies turn down service. Upon request, the friendly staff will even childproof rooms. There are also behind the scenes tours of the hotel for young guests including a visit to the kitchen, the laundry room, the presidential suite or even the wine cellar. No, they cannot do any tastings! At the end of the stay, children are asked to participate in a treasure hunt where they are provided with generous hotel gifts as a reward.

# 1 LE MEURICE, France
WHAT'S IN IT FOR THE KIDS: It is the grand dame of all palace hotels in Paris. Le Meurice offers an exclusive family package that could keep it in the No. 1 spot for the foreseeable future. Young guests are given passes for carousel rides and use of custom-made, to-die-for toy wooden boats to sail on the pond in the Jardin de Tuileries. The fun does not stop there. The hotel organizes treasure hunts headed by the Concierge, where little guests are awarded an exclusive hotel gift at the end of the hunt. They also provide a mini passport travel guide, loads of cuddly toys, game sets, sweets and cakes, endless supplies of color pens and pencils; children’s sized bathrobes, slippers and more. In addition to this family package, the passport provides a map and trail of the city’s most magical sights for children. The hotel plans to be the first ever in Paris to offer children bikes to their guests, from next year. Fun kid factor: The Philip Starck gold-gilt frame that is frosted with ice and stand 8-feet tall. The art work is located in the middle of the lobby and is the centerpiece of conversations as kids are encouraged to write their names with their fingers and leave messages for other guests.

Urban Crayon Paris is a family-friendly travel guide on how to have fun with young children in France's famed capital city. Conveniently organized in 12 sections, this book features fun things to do outdoors; activities geared for boys, girls, and the whole family; the locales of the best free playgrounds; the most kid-friendly sightseeing; hip inns that offer real value for the money; and great places to eat. Urban Crayon Paris was a finalist in the 2008 Indie Book Awards.


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