Road Trip

Many hotel options available for family-friendly summer vacation stays

Finding hotels that are kid-friendly yet sophisticated enough for parents used to be hard, but not any more. Many hotels are now trying to cater to both small and large groups alike. More and more hotels are trying to please everyone in the family–even pets. Be sure to book as early as possible for the best rates, ask about special promotions, and compare online reservations rates, which are often discounted.

If you’re a busy family and you want someone to take care of all the travel arrangements, use a travel agent, says Betty Price, CEO of Kola Nut Travel (http://www.kolanut.com) in Inglewood, Calif. “Agents can take care of last-minute charges or help if any problems arise.” Be sure to work with a reputable travel agent who has certifications and whose company has the proper insurance, she adds.

When booking a hotel for the family, do some research, advises Cathi Young, owner and event planner at Richmond, Virginia-based Make My Day (www.2makemyday.com). “Make sure the hotel is in a safe location. Ask if they offer special meal deals. Is there a pool on-site and is it monitored?” Young says. “Call the hotel and find out as much information you can, not only about the property but also the destination. You want a safe, fun, and friendly hotel.”

The Ritz-Carlton, Palm Beach (http://www.ritzcarlton.com/en/Properties/PalmBeach), has the modern luxuries that adults love, as well as new programs just for kids and teens. Its Kids AquaNuts program offers supervised physical and creative activities for children ages 5-12. Amenities include a dedicated playroom, computers, music, and costumes. Also, an all-day camp keeps the kids busy with activities. For teens (ages 13-17), there’s a lounge called Coast where they can create their own DJ mix and upload it to their iPod, play video games, surf the Internet, play billiards, and become a radio DJ. There’s also a teen-friendly nightclub. For the grown-ups, the Ritz features spa services and golf.

While the decor is ultra-modern and sleek, most Novotel Hotels (http://www.novotel.com) offer special rooms for families of four. Breakfast is free for two children under the age of 16 staying in their parents’ room. Novotel has also designed modern, colorful play areas.

Teenagers can be hard to please. But Loews Hotels (www.loewshotels.com) has a program they promise will keep them engaged. At select locations, exclusive one- and two-night Edu-cation Packages offer entertaining educational activities in which teens can learn anything from surfing to songwriting. The hotels also offer “Loews Loves Kids” featuring a variety of programs and services, including game lending libraries, special children’s menus, tours, Fisher-Price gifts, and supervised recreational programs. Loews also features a special pet program, allowing families to bring their furry family member along.

The Starwood family of hotels (www.starwood.com), which includes Sheraton, Westin, and St. Regis,just announced “Love Your Family” (www.FamilyFunSpecials.com) at 29 resorts in the U.S. and the Caribbean. Beginning this summer, “Love Your Family” will include three signature hotel experiences–fireside storytelling, stargazing, and

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