|Central Park rowboat rentals in Manhattan are one of many options for family fun in the Big Apple.|
Joanne Kruger, Frosch, Deerfield, IL
Cruises: Crystal Cruises is very family friendly, both in its pricing and onboard service.
Celebrity Cruises also has great itineraries and many different cabin options for more price-conscious groups.
I always suggest that any family/group planning a trip do private shore excursions tailored to their needs. It always winds up saving them money in the long run.
Tours: A & K—The new “Connections” programs are wonderful, concise itineraries and not as expensive as the ones in the brochure or the FIT trips.
&Beyond Africa is terrific. They do all destinations at any price point. They will put together a perfect itinerary for a group of any size and are willing to make changes until you are satisfied.
Tauck Bridges, for any destination.
Classic Vacations is always on our radar. We reach out to them for international hotel bookings and choosing the perfect all-inclusive resort for family travel.
Their reservationists are knowledgeable and can help narrow down your choices.
Club Med—Their Cancun and Punta Cana resorts have special suite areas within each club. Sandpiper in Florida is a great choice for families that want to vacation in the States.
Hotels/Cities: London and Paris are great for Winter Break and Spring Break for those who don’t need guaranteed weather. Always ask for “family” rates. Many hotels offer a second room at half the price. This applies at both domestic and international city hotels.
New York City and Washington, D.C., are always exciting cities for any age group to visit.
Southern California offers good weather and great hotels. Just north of Los Angeles is a hidden gem, The Ojai Valley Inn and Spa. There is always something going on for all age groups there. Another favorite is The Resort at Pelican Hill in Newport Coast, which is just north of Laguna Beach. It has beautiful villa accommodations that are very comfortable for families, and a great lineup of activities.
Peg Haskins, president, Viking Travel/The Cruise Shop, Westmont, IL
Cruises: We have many multigenerational families booking cruises. We’ve used Regent for Alaska and planned some custom shore excursions. I would recommend that the travel specialist be in contact with all the parents and grandparents in the group and understand what is important to each family member in the group.
Some of our multigenerational family groups prefer Royal Caribbean suites for the grandparents and other adults. Kids, on the other hand, would have outside units, which would be less pricey. We find that helping plan custom excursions with our on-site companies gives us bragging rights.
Tour operators: We’ve used Alpine Adventures to book The Ritz-Carlton Residences, Vail. Alpine was able to efficiently package the destination.
We found that working with our ensemble of preferred suppliers offers the valued packaging we needed. In this case, we had the sales representative from The Ritz Carlton Club, Vail visit our office. We were able to get detailed answers to all our questions on the best room types and on accommodating special requests for our client.
Important: Know your contacts and be in touch with all of them. Use your preferred suppliers whenever possible.
Destinations: We have had families traveling over the holidays. In Grand Cayman we’ve used condos, and we always make sure that the guests have dinner reservations for Christmas.
We’re planning Africa for 2014 for our family, which will be multigenerational. One of my granddaughters will want to stay in Tanzania after the trip and help at a school for a month. Her third grade teacher has started a foundation there. As she is finishing college and plans to be a teacher, this stint in Tanzania is of great interest to her.
Jessica Griscavage, leisure travel consultant, McCabe World Travel
Cruises: Cruising has become an excellent way for families to travel together. Cruise lines have recognized the value of families and multigenerational groups that are now some of their most valuable customers. Parents are able to settle in and have to unpack just once while sailing to different locations worldwide. Cruising is my favorite way to travel with my family. There are such wonderful kid-friendly cruising options, from the exclusive programs and adventures of Disney Cruise Line to the DreamWorks characters and Barbie experience on Royal Caribbean. Cruising also offers a variety of price points to fit every budget. Some of the luxury lines, such as Regent Seven Seas and Crystal Cruises have special offers that allow children to sail at reduced fares or even for free when they share a stateroom with their parents.
Destinations: Hawaii is a wonderful family-friendly destination. It’s a great combination of beach and culture and has something for everyone. Activities include golf, helicopter rides, ziplining, ATV excursions, kayaking and tons of water activities. It’s an exotic destination without a language barrier and everything is charged in U.S. dollars. Although it is a long flight, it is absolutely worth it once you arrive.
National parks are great family destinations and we at Virtuoso are proud to have Marty Behr from National Parks Revealed working with us on planning some incredible travel options. With 84 million acres of world-class landscapes, stretching from Arizona’s Grand Canyon to Maine’s Acadia National Park, America’s National Parks offer more than a lifetime of experiences.
Hotels: When looking for a hotel brand, I select ones that have specialized programs for children. Four Seasons is a great example. Every Four Seasons resort worldwide offers the Kids For All Seasons program, a wonderland of fun that is complimentary for ages 4 and up. Children are immersed in the culture of their local surroundings. The program has a weekly schedule of events, featuring activities, arts and crafts, and movies that are age appropriate. In addition to the complimentary kids program, currently kids 12 and under eat free when booking a Canopy Suite or higher at the Costa Rica resort. This offer, valid through September 15, adds great value for parents.
The Ritz Kids Clubs have a variety of creative and physical activities designed for children ages 5-12. Many of their programs feature the Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ambassadors of the environment program, where kids learn about the environment while having fun. Many of the resorts offer Kids Night Out programs, giving mom and dad a break. For a special treat, at their Tahoe location they even bring in a tent for the kids to sleep in—now that’s glamping. For the little ones, they provide the POLO (Protect Our Little One) kits that include amenities like a night light, hand wipes, bathtub spout cover, hand sanitizer, outlet covers, BandAids, thermometer, diaper cream, sunscreen, rubber ducky, Johnson & Johnson products and local emergency contact list.
Donna Scicolone, president, Travel Leaders, Solon, OH
Cruises: When focusing on multigenerational luxury travel I would have to say that any recommendations I make regarding cruising are truly focused on clients’ age groups. The true luxury lines are just not a good fit for young children no matter what programs may be put in place because the fun, loud, kid-friendly programs are not suited for the bread-and-butter guests that make up the vast majority of clientele on board.
I would say that of the mass-market cruise lines, some Celebrity Cruise ships can maintain enough luxury attributes to satisfy the older generation, yet still have enough action to entertain youngsters. It is important to secure private shore excursions for the family so the “kids can be kids” around folks who love them and families can have the flexibility to adjust a planned schedule as needed.
|Hawaii is great for kids, thanks to the variety of physical activities it provides. Pictured here is Honolulu.|
Tours: Tauck Bridges is an excellent provider of fun, inclusive and exclusive tours. They have designed some great experiences for young people without reducing the quality for adults. GOGO’s Back-Roads Touring Co. is a wonderful option for families traveling together in Europe. We arrange private touring for small groups that include their own private mini-coach and driver for up to 16 people. We help to construct the itinerary that meets the time and experience goals of our clients, whether it involves a tracing of the family tree, a particular sporting or cultural event, local cuisine, etc. Back-Roads Touring will work with us to create the best possible multigenerational experience possible.
Resorts: We use Palace Resorts in Mexico for excellent and predictable high-end vacation experiences for families. If the second or third generation in our family group are over 18, we have had great success with Le Blanc in Cancun. The all-inclusive luxury allows even for the appropriation of resort credits toward spa features and tours that our clients can experience together.
The Hard Rock Punta Cana has been a good choice for active families as well. I’ve made advance tee times for grandfathers and grandsons, horseback riding for mothers and daughters, and spa experiences for everyone.