Embarking on a family trip can sometimes wind up being more National Lampoon’s Vacation than Norman Rockwell. While traveling with the kids in tow may force you to make some concessions, a large brood doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice luxury. These five top-notch hotels, from Massachusetts to California, prove that high-end family getaways are possible.
Located just 30 miles outside of Los Angeles on the stunning Palos Verdes Peninsula, the sprawling Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Terranea Resort is a haven for families. To start, the range of accommodations is made for groups — especially the residential-style bungalows and casitas — and the resort regularly hosts families staying for a month’s time. An onsite sundry shop makes it easy to keep your room stocked with ice cream, champagne and other small snacks. But the kids will likely spend all of their time outside on the 140-foot waterslide at the Resort Pool and at family fun nights with events such as bubble-blowing contests and hermit crab races. Stop by Pointe Discovery, the resort’s activity center, and sign up for falconry or tide pooling, or venture with a group along the Discovery Trail, where you can spot whales, sea lions and dolphins in the Pacific Ocean.
The strong rays of the Arizona sun prove to be a source of fun year-round, and this Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star hotel does an impressive job of connecting families, especially kids, to the property’s surroundings at the foot of the Tortolita Mountains. In fact, the luxury hotel just enhanced its popular Dove Mountain Rangers program, placing it under the new global Ritz Kids initiative tied to explorer Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ocean Futures Society. Sign the little ones up for hands-on activities such as desert detective scavenger hunts or “Living Deserts” to discover the animals that live in the region. When it comes time for bed, round up the family for an indoor campout — a tent will be delivered to your guest room along with a s’mores kit, a book about the High Sonoran Desert and a desert tortoise stuffed animal.
Florida is a typical go-to destination for families, but kick your Sunshine State vacation up a level with a stay at this Four-Star hotel. Don’t let the grandiose structure — Murano glass chandeliers, frescoes and Italianate architecture — fool you into thinking this isn’t a place to take the little ones. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. The luxury beachfront resort is teeming with family-centric amenities, including the Coconut Crew Camp, where kids can partake in beach explorations, treasure hunts and nature walks, or The Breakers Junior Golf Academy, where they can practice their putts and swings. Take the whole clan to the 6,160-square-foot Family Entertainment Center, which is outfitted with an arcade, movie room and outdoor playground, and top it off with bonding time at a beach bonfire on Friday nights through May 31.
You may have to wait until the snow disappears and the weather warms up to fully enjoy all that Four-Star White Elephant Village has to offer (it reopens on April 17), but your patience will pay off. This charming Nantucket hotel provides one-, two- and three-bedroom residences that come with kitchens decked out with handy amenities such as a Sub-Zero refrigerator and a panino maker. And a pool (complete with an ice cream cart) makes for a great spot to splash around with the kids. Age-appropriate welcome amenities for the youngsters range from coloring kits to beach bum kits (sand bucket, shovel), too. Be sure to take the children through the inn’s lobby; lollipops are up for grabs next to the elevator. Those traveling with babies will be set up for a proper stay, since the hotel supplies Pack ‘n Plays, cribs, strollers and bottle warmers.
With ski season in its last few weeks, Park City is the ultimate spot for families hitting the slopes. The Four-Star hotel is situated mid-mountain at Deer Valley Resort atop Empire Pass, and with ski-in/ski-out access, big groups can avoid the hassle of transporting gear back and forth. The cozy hotel’s guest rooms are all outfitted with gas fireplaces, so you and the kids can warm up chilly fingers and toes after a day in the snow. Skiing aside, Montage Deer Valley is also home to the children’s program Paintbox, which specializes in unique daily activities, such as behind-the-scenes kitchen tours, tubing at Powder Park, karaoke and afternoon hot chocolate breaks for kids ages five to 12 years old. At night, head to the fire pit on the Vista Lounge patio for s’mores served daily from 4 to 5 p.m.
Photos Courtesy of Arthur Coleman, The Ritz Carlton Hotel Company LLC and White Elephant Village