There is nothing more joyous than a family on vacation together. Families need to escape together - it's often the very best bonding time we have. And right now is a great time to book the trip. Hotels and resorts are offering special incentives to lure families to their shores. We've collected the best packages and offers, bringing new meaning to the term family values. So start planning, because your perfect family escape awaits - but time doesn't.
Aloha for Ohana
Hawaii has long been considered a top family destination. It's tropical, gorgeous, friendly and it's the 50th state of the union. Best of all, Hawaii holds variety. Want the glimmer of Waikiki beach or the lava fields of Kona? Seeking a serene snorkel at Maui's Kapalua Bay or a picturesque hike along Kauai's Na Pali coast? Hawaii has it all - and it's all on sale.
Making family memories for over 60 years, the Aston Hotels & Resorts brand name is back again in Hawaii. And as before, Aston is all about families. Its 26 spacious, affordable condominium resorts and familyfriendly hotels are located on the four main islands (Oahu, Maui, Kauai and Hawaii). The condominium resorts offer one-, two- or three-bedroom units, giving families plenty of room for fun. Right now, Aston offers several family specials, including "Kids Stay, Play and Eat Free" and "Aston Escapes," with savings up to 40 percent off through June 11, 2009. (866-77-HAWAII astonhotels.com)
Over the past several years, Waikiki has undergone a dramatic revitalization. Gone is the kitsch. Brought back is the focus on Hawaiian arts and culture. The main attraction remains Waikiki Beach, which is undeniably one of the most graceful in the world (and its gentle waves remain one of the few truly easy places to learn to surf). Ideal for families, the Embassy Suites Waikiki Beach Walk is the only all-suite resort in Waikiki. Embassy Suites is synonymous with great value, and even here you'll enjoy many complimentary amenities like cooked-to-order breakfast daily, a nightly manager's reception, domestic long-distance calls and high-speed Internet access. If the kids somehow tire of Waikiki's sandy beach, they can always play in the hotel's family-size pool. Check the website for specials. (800-EMBASSY embassysuiteswaikiki.com)
|Discover Antigua with The Verandah Resort & Spa and St. James Club & Villas
With a rich colonial history, teeming reefs and an amazing number of perfect little beaches, Antigua is an ideal island for family exploration. For your familial quarters, we recommend The Verandah Resort & Spa and the St. James's Club & Villas. For the remainder of 2009, these luxurious all-inclusive properties are offering a very special promotion: Receive the fourth and eighth nights free, plus up to two kids stay free! With great dining, water sports, pampering spa treatments, Kidz Club and teen programs, these resorts will help you to artfully create family memories that will last a lifetime.
Past the town of Hanalei, across seven one-lane bridges, is Hanalei Colony Resort, the only beachfront resort on Kauai's spectacular north shore. Just minutes away from the famed Na Pali Coast and situated right on the beach, this exclusive five-acre property features just 48 condominium units. Each holds two bedrooms, two baths, a fully equipped kitchen and a private lanai ideal for a family of four. A "Keiki Kamp"(kids camp) is offered several days a week during the seasonal months. Looking for a location for a truly memorable family reunion? Take the whole resort! Hanalei Colony is currently offering 25 percent off all stays completed by May 31, 2009. (800-628-3004 hcr.com)
On Maui, the Outrigger Condominium Collection offers five deluxe condominium resorts, and right now rates start at only $145 a night! Enjoy spacious grounds, swimming pools and Maui's favorite locations including posh Wailea Beach, beautiful Ka'anapali Beach, historic Lahaina town and picturesque Napili. An Outrigger condo is an ideal home base from which to explore all the beauty and activities that Maui has to offer, and now you can do that from just $145 a night. (800-OUTRIGGER outriggercondos.com)
Easy to get to and with so much to explore, no wonder the Caribbean is the favorite island region of American travelers. Right now, resorts on these idyllic isles are also offering many special savings to make it easier than ever on the family budget too. Start dancing.
All-inclusive resorts were invented and perfected in the Caribbean. For families, allinclusive resorts are often a perfect choice because of their fixed costs, included activities and easy dining options. At Breezes Resorts, which has oceanfront resorts in Jamaica, Bahamas, Curaçao, Dominican Republic, Panama and Brazil, all-inclusive is elevated to "super-inclusive," which covers an array of land and water sports, all meals, premium drinks and entertainment for the whole family. Tipping is simply not permitted, but doing nothing, or everything, is. For summer specials, check the website. (877-BREEZES breezes.com)
Down in Aruba, the Divi Village Golf & Beach Resort gives parents a little extra privacy by virtue of being an all-suite resort, plus extra flexibility the suites have kitchens but kids 17 and under stay and eat free on the optional all-inclusive program. Guests can enjoy the amenities and restaurants of all three Divi Resorts on Aruba, including 10 restaurants, 11 bars, nonmotorized water sports, poolside activities, the island's only rock-climbing wall, and even golf on a beautiful nine-hole public course that is ideal for learners. A supervised kids camp is available for ages 5-12. Rates for a one-bedroom suite start at $195 per adult, with kids free. (866- 458-2676 diviresorts.com/islands)
A name known for quality, Hilton Caribbean Hotels & Resorts strives to make sure its littlest guests get the star treatment. The family policy includes: Children under 18 stay free in the room with adults; children under 5 receive all meals free; and kids 5-12 receive breakfast free and 50 percent off all other meals with accompanying adults at selected restaurants at each hotel (certain restrictions apply, of course.) The resorts also often have special gifts for the kids at checkin. With eight resorts across the Bahamas, Barbados, Curaçao, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Puerto Rico and Trinidad, Hilton's comfort and quality welcome families to all corners of the Caribbean. (877-GO-HILTON hiltoncaribbean.com)
On beautiful Barbados, the Fairmont Royal Pavilion has been recognized as one of the most elegant and refined resorts in the region. This year, the resort is expanding its charm to welcome children of all ages from March 30 to Oct. 31 (the rest of the year, it's couples only.) Right now the resort offers ISLANDS readers a special family package in which a second room is 50 percent off the standard rate (on bookings made now until Oct. 18 for travel from May 1 until Oct. 31, 2009; conditions apply). For children under 5, meals from the buffet or children's menu are complimentary. For those 6-12, the resort provides special pricing of 50 percent off the regular menu. (246-422-5555 fairmont.com/royalpavilion)
Bermuda's legendary beaches and British charm are just a couple of the reasons the island is popular with families (safety and service are others). At the 9 Beaches Bermuda resort, children under 18 can stay in a select second cabana at 50 percent off. Casual and inviting, 9 Beaches (as seen on the cover of ISLANDS, November 2008) also gives all families a "Family Fun Time" package containing beach bags, baseball hats, a walking tour of Somerset Village and a photo screensaver - perfect for the kids' "what I did on vacation" reports back at school. (866-841-9009 9beaches.com)
En Mexico, Todos Son Familiares
(In Mexico, everyone is family.) Stretching from Cancun southward through the Maya Riviera region and encompassing the offshore isles of Cozumel and Isla Mujeres, the "Mexican Caribbean" region holds ancient ruins, verdant forests, underground rivers, eco-adventure parks and sugar-fine beaches abutting a sparkling turquoise sea. In short, this area holds a ton of fun, and it's all tailor made for families.
With four all-inclusive resorts stretching across gorgeous beaches in the Riviera Maya area, Sandos Hotels & Resorts offers families an easy base for exploring this memorable destination. Accommodations are spacious and suitable for a family of up to five. The complimentary Sandos Kids Club engages children ages 2 to 17 with activities, lessons and games. One child under the age of 12 stays free, while second and third children receive a 50 percent discount (certain restrictions apply). (866-887-5601 sandoshotels.com)
Enjoying recent accolades from AAA, TripAdvisor and others, Palace Resorts has a reputation for luxurious accommodations, perfect beachfront locations and outstanding all-inclusive value at its 12 resorts in Mexico and the Dominican Republic. This summer, Palace Resorts is rolling out the red carpet for families with a simple yet enticing offer: Kids under 12 are free (June 1 through Aug. 31, 2009). Treat your little prince or princess to endless Kids Club activities and amenities, select tours, and unlimited kids menu meals and snacks - for free! (866- 665-0997 palaceresorts.com)
Kids, if you are reading this, pull Mom or Dad over to the computer screen and ask for a raise in your allowance. You just saved them some serious dough.