When planning a much-needed family vacation, we sometimes put all of our energy into scheduling our own activities that we forget about the little ones who want to have some fun, too. Thankfully, the exclusive children’s programs at five Forbes Travel Guide Star-Rated properties have you covered. From decorating sugar cookies in a one-hour baking class at Five-Star The Cloister’s Camp Cloister to jamming out to karaoke tunes in Five-Star The Resort at Pelican Hill’s 2,700-square-foot Camp Pelican facility, your kiddies will be well taken care of while you’re off golfing or relaxing at the spa. To save you some planning time, our Forbes Travel Guide editors have picked the best luxury camps for your youngsters to attend.
After you’ve checked into your two-bedroom Ocean Villas suite at The Cloister on Sea Island in coastal Georgia, drop your kids off at the Five-Star resort’s Camp Cloister. This activity-filled year-round program, which started more than 50 years ago, is overseen by a talented group of trained college students (aka junior staff). Rest assured that your feisty troops—ages 3 to 14—will be in caring hands as they hit the beach with a naturalist to explore the differences in various shells, such as mussels, clams, oysters and whelks. And should the catch of the day interest your tyke, folks ages 7 and up can opt to go fishing for sheepshead, croaker and whiting off the seaside resort’s dock.
But if being outdoors in 80-degree temps isn’t appealing, no worries. Kids can sign up for a one-hour baking class such as Cookie Cutters (held in The Meeting Place) and try their hands at decorating sugary confections all while donning personalized toques. And for an extra-special treat from 6 to 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, The Cloister offers a Kids’ Night Out experience that will intrigue fashionistas in the making with its T-shirt design class or those wanting to learn basic outdoor survival skills (how to use a compass, build a fire or pitch a tent). When it’s all said and done, dinner will be served with menu items including chicken fingers, quesadillas and spaghetti and meatballs. 9:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday-Saturday; $95 for ages 3-6, $130 for ages 7-14 and $70 for Kids’ Night Out (ages 3-12).
Your darling angels (ages 5 to 12) will delight in Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Montage Laguna Beach’s exclusive Paintbox program. With daily fun lined up from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., creativity comes alive through themed days of the week, such as Tasty Tuesday, when kids make “dirt cups” as they crush a bunch of Oreo cookies into “dirt” and then add the “mud” (better known as chocolate pudding) before placing gummy worms into the tumblers. And for Weird Science Wednesday, white solar beads, which change into ultraviolet colors when sunlight hits them, are used to make key chains, necklaces and bracelets.
In between all of the activities, snacks such as Goldfish crackers will be served and lunch items such as grilled cheese sandwiches, hamburgers, French fries, fruit salad and Jell-O come straight from the on-site Mosaic Bar and Grille’s children’s menu. Paintbox is sure to woo your child with everything from its tide pool tours that educate on how to preserve marine-protected areas to quality time spent with pirate Hippolyte Bouchard, who at one point stashed booty on the hotel’s very own Treasure Island Beach. During this meet-and-greet, Bouchard strums his guitar and sings with guests in between telling fascinating tales of pirate attacks and how he went about burying the treasure. Daily; $100 for full day with lunch and drawstring souvenir bag (9 a.m.-4 p.m.), $70 for half-day morning with lunch (9 a.m.-1 p.m.), $70 for half-day afternoon with lunch (noon-4 p.m.), $70 for Children’s Night Out on Fridays and Saturdays (6-10 p.m.).
As a kid, it’s important to spend quality time with your peers. But the bonus is when you can do it without the parentals being around. That’s why Camp Pelican at Five-Star The Resort at Pelican Hill in Orange County is a perfect haven for children ages 4 to 12. Imagine running around a 1,450-square-foot outdoor playground outfitted with a pingpong table, swimming pool, bubble jet fountain and more. And when it’s time to go inside, lounge around on beanbags, play board games or watch your favorite movie (thanks to hotel staff members who find out your individual preferences 30 days before arrival) on one of the two 46-inch flat-screen TVs. Kids will never get bored because each week at Camp Pelican, there’s a new theme, such as Movin’ & Groovin’ Fridays (get ready for the “Just Dance” Wii tourney), or other entertaining activities, such as scavenger hunts where each child receives keepsakes like a Pelican Hill picture frame, a Camp Pelican drawstring bag or a complimentary scoop of gelato from the Caffè (otherwise known as the gelato laboratory). For the older set (ages 13 to 17), Latitude provides outdoor off-property activities such as kayaking and paddleboarding.
This seven-days-a-week escape comes complete with lunch and snacks (pizza, hot dogs and pretzels); and if the kids want to keep the party going with Dinner & Movie Night, expect pasta with meatballs alongside tasty popcorn. To end the evening on an even higher note, guests (ages 2 to 7) will love the resort’s mascot-inspired plush pelican toy that’s been left on their bed as well as delicious goodies such as milk and cookies that are part of the resort’s top-notch turndown service. Camp Pelican: daily; $90 for full day (9 a.m.-4 p.m.), $60 for half-day morning (9 a.m.-1 p.m.), $60 for half-day afternoon (noon-4 p.m.), $60 for Dinner & Movie Night on select dates (5-9 p.m.). Latitude: daily; $110 for full day (10 a.m.-10 p.m.), $70 for half-day (10 a.m.-4 p.m.).
Camp-goers are required to bring a smile with them to Forbes Travel Guide Recommended Fontainebleau Miami Beach’s FB Kids. This mandatory task should be easy to do since the program has lots of entertaining activities, including the daily Creating their Canvas exercise where the kids and their adventure guide use a canvas to map out the day’s theme solely based on their imaginations. Under the warm South Florida sun, FB Kids welcomes ages 4 to 12 for a full- or half-day extravaganza. We’re talking sports such as beach volleyball and soccer, and for ages 12 to 16, dodgeball and a cornhole tournament await. The Kids’ Camp Room is outfitted with bright orange, yellow and a mix of hot pink, purple and blue striped walls. Colorful sea-foam-green-and-white beanbags are inside with tables, chairs, two iMac stations, two flat-screen TVs, Nintendo Wiis and a draw-on mural wall.
But should the kiddies want to have a little fun in the sun, they can always head to the interactive Kids’ Pool area and take turns dodging the water canons, shooting down the waterslide, running through the spray canopy and so much more. And when the young ‘uns tire out, refueling with chicken tenders, grilled cheese sandwiches or hamburgers from the hotel’s Fresh eatery is the way to go. (Through Sept. 30, kids under 12 dine for free with the Bleau Summer package.) Every family with kids receives an FB passport with a voucher for a free kids’ cup of gelato at Fresh; a complimentary goodie from the resort’s bakery, Solo, which is earned once the child colors a picture of a cupcake and posts the art in the establishment; and the address to the Kids’ Camp treasure chest where both parents and offspring will have access to items such as coloring books, games and toys to borrow while on vacation. $75 for full day with lunch and daily activity (9 a.m.-4 p.m.), $50 for half-day with daily activity (9 a.m.-noon or 1-4 p.m.), $60 for Kids’ Night Out on Fridays and Saturdays (7-11 p.m.).
Trump Kids Young Entrepreneurs SoHo
There’s no better place to get on-the-job training than in New York City. So it makes sense that Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Trump SoHo New York’s Trump Kids program partnered with YoungBiz USA in March to enhance its Young Entrepreneurs SoHo (Y.E.S.) initiative, which launched last summer. The two-hour class provided business minds ages 3 to 17 with an opportunity to “Be Your Own Boss” and learn about everything from etiquette to capitalizing on entrepreneurial experiences. These Y.E.S. development classes are a part of a series with the next one scheduled to take place this summer on the chic hotel’s pool deck. Recommended for ages 8 to 12, the Y.E.S. program gives kids their own personalized business cards, a monogrammed cotton terry robe on their first trip and customized amenities for all future stays (candy buffets, anyone?).
If you book the spring/summer Family Suite Savings package, which includes staying in a roomy two-bedroom suite, receiving a complimentary sofa bed or rollaway and free kids’ breakfast with in-room dining, your children will thank you for it. Especially because every businessperson needs to start the day off with a hearty breakfast like the one offered here—challah French toast, cereal, eggs, fruit smoothies and fresh fruit. And after a busy day filled with lots of learning, kids can come back to their hotel room and order up mocktails such as a frozen hot chocolate or a Shirley Temple. Y.E.S. is complimentary for children ages 3-17 who are guests of the hotel, condo owners or residents of the neighborhood.
Photos Courtesy of Fontainebleau, The Cloister and The Resort at Pelican Hill