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As much as vacations allow us to disconnect from the daily grind of work and school, they also provide an opportunity to challenge our minds in a different way. There is so much to be gained from learning new skills or exploring new interests in a new environment, especially for children who are like sponges.
Hotels and resorts around the world have developed innovative, kid-focused programs that are culturally immersive or provide a deep connection to the natural world for their guests.
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These aren’t your run-of-the-mill kid’s clubs; they’re on another level entirely. A wide range of educational opportunities are available at these eight family hotels, from lectures on environmental sustainability and the workings of unique ecosystems to lively history and language lessons.
In This Article, I’ll Discuss
The Points Guy (Photo courtesy of Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort)
Jacques Cousteau’s Fijian Island Resort
Fiji is distinct from other tropical islands thanks to activities like making spears and planting traditional crops offered by the Bula Club at Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort’s Bula Village. In addition, there are a number of activities that revolve around Fiji’s rich maritime culture. For children ages six to twelve, the School Under the Sea offers a wide range of educational activities, including reef ecosystem walks and preservation talks, planting coral and mangroves, searching for and rescuing stranded divers, and a program called “A Drop in the Ocean,” which teaches water conservation techniques.
At the end of the week, there are presentations by marine biologists and a graduation ceremony. During shorter vacations, Johnny Singh, the on-site marine biologist, offers “Connect with Kids” programs in which children participate in the curriculum at a local elementary school, practicing language games, participating in sports, and trying Fijian cuisine with a local buddy of their own age.
The nightly rate is $960.
The Points Guy (Photo courtesy of Desa Potato Head)
A view from Bali’s Desa Potato Head.
The “good times, do good” ethos of Desa Potato Head’s creative village, which includes two distinctive design hotels, is carried out every Sunday afternoon at the Sweet Potato Kids workshop, which was founded and is led by Balinese environmental champion Dewa Legawa. Throughout the year, the island’s traditions and a regenerative attitude are highlighted in an effort to inspire future change-makers. Kids make bamboo and paper kites, which they then fly like the locals do. These kites are revered by some as sacred religious vessels used to convey messages or gratitude to Hindu gods.
Drawing with seeds, painting with sustainable plant-based pigments, and building small outrigger boats out of coconut shells are just a few examples of the natural materials used in workshops. The recycled plastic material Potato Head uses to make chairs and other guest amenities can also be used by kids to make beaded bracelets, teaching them how not to waste any of the material.
Potato Head Studios start at $182 per night, and Potato Head Suites start at $290 per night (taxes and breakfast included) (including taxes and breakfast).
The Points Guy (Photo courtesy of Hotel Eden)
The Eden Hotel in Rome
In partnership with luxury tour operator Imago Artis, Hotel Eden’s children’s programming brings Rome’s long history to life. Every small person can make a connection with the various eras of the Eternal City. Children ages 7 and up can participate in the Little Gladiator Experience ($210 per child; $316 for two) at an ancient arena that resembles the Colosseum, where they learn gladiatura, or the life of the gladiator, by trying on armor and inspecting ancient weapons. They also learn Roman fighting skills, history, and the secrets of the games.
Alternately, children can spend an afternoon creating a souvenir in the studio or in one of Rome’s leafy parks with Little Artist ($263, or $316 for two), a program that allows them to visit an artist’s studio and learn from a Roman maestro about sculpture, painting, pottery, and mosaics. Older teenagers may prefer to attempt a replica of a Bernini or Michelangelo masterpiece.
Guests can expect to pay up to $827 per night for a hotel room.
The Points Guy (Photo courtesy of Six Senses Ninh Van Bay)
The Six Senses Ninh Van Bay, in Vietnam
While the pandemic was going on, the team at Six Senses Ninh Van Bay was hard at work creating not only a brand new kids club called Vooc Village, but also an immersive Climate Warrior program that has now been implemented across the brand.
Children can participate in a variety of activities at the resort, including growing coral fragments to aid in the regeneration of nearby reefs, planting a tree on the resort’s fruit farm, and participating in experiments and games in the Earth Lab. They can also prepare meals using a solar cooker. Additionally, there are a plethora of cultural activities for children to participate in, such as making bamboo wind chimes and herbal compresses, learning about Vietnamese music, playing traditional games, and crafting colorful paper lanterns.
Rates start at $896 a night at this time.
I’m talking about you, The Points Guy. The Four Seasons Hualalai in Hawaii has a wealth of cultural activities for children. In this image, provided by the Four Seasons Hotel Hualalai,
Hualalai, Hawaii’s Four Seasons Resort
In addition to the aquarium-like King’s Pond and the Kaupulehu Cultural Center, which are both staffed by marine biologists, the Four Seasons Hualalai on the Island of Hawaii offers numerous opportunities for children to learn more about Hawaii’s unique ecology and cultural heritage.
Feather-tying, Hawaiian quilting, and pandanus leaf weaving are just some of the skills that children learn at the cultural center. Hawaiian oral history, oli songs, and indigenous plant use are taught in all-age storytelling sessions. Even the tiniest visitors can participate in feeding the fish and the resident spotted eagle ray at King’s Pond (with an adult present) and even feel the creatures in the Touch Tank.
Excursions, such as tidepool walks and “fishing derbies,” are also available for additional fees. If you’re over the age of 12, you can even go on an internship with a marine biologist and learn how to collect and record data.
Currently, a nightly rate of $1,100 is the lowest you can go.
The Points Guy (Photo courtesy of Six Senses Douro Valley)
The Douro Valley Six Senses Resort in Portugal
Children at the Six Senses Douro Valley in Portugal’s wine country now have access to the Climate Warriors program, which teaches them about the effects of climate change, conducts Earth Lab experiments, and teaches them how to upcycle and compost waste.
When studying the value of native plants and pollination, students make and toss clay, soil, and seed bombs, and engage in recycling games that help them better understand topics like how batteries should be disposed of. Organic gardening and composting are also covered in the course material. Guests staying three nights or more are entitled to free access to this programming.
Nightly rates begin at $421.
The Points Guy (Photo courtesy of Amanyara)
Turkish and Cayman Islands
While Turks and Caicos is a popular tourist destination for adults, it also offers wonderful educational opportunities for children. Amanyara offers a series of SEEK — Science Explorers and Environmental Keepers — camps for $95 per child per day in collaboration with the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science in Miami. In order to inspire the next generation of conservationists, educators from Frost-affiliated organizations lead the camp for children ages 5 to 14.
It includes kayaking or hiking through mangroves, building a coastline model, and inspecting sand and plants under a microscope as part of the “Coastal Conservation” program. To see turtles, rays, and other marine life, the “Reef Rescue” program takes kids snorkeling in Northwest Point National Park. For example, they can use their new knowledge to launch their own “Save the Reef” campaign. The third camp theme is “Sun, Moon and Stars,” in which campers learn about constellations, spectroscopy, and how to use light to search for life on other planets while also stargazing and building moon models. There are also bespoke private camps available.
The cost of a night at the hotel currently begins at $3,000 per person.
I’m talking about you, The Points Guy. A naturalist from the Kiawah Island Golf Resort educates guests on the plight of baby alligators. The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island Golf Resort has provided us with this picture.
South Carolina’s Kiawah Island Golf Resort
As part of the South Carolina Lowcountry’s Kiawah Island Resort’s “Junior Naturalist Program,” children are given the opportunity to learn about the unique environmental features that surround the hotel. Naturalists lead four classes for $30 per child, which include hands-on activities as well as exploration outside the classroom.
Birding, wildlife photography, and so-called “gator walks” are all options for interested parents. During the herpetology session, children observe alligators basking in the sun and learn to identify various sea turtle species that nest on the island’s beaches. They use dip nets to find grass shrimp, sponges, and sea squirts in creek beds while learning about their roles in the ecosystem during the marsh discovery activity. There are a variety of other activities for children to participate in while visiting the area, such as learning about the local bird and insect species or hiking through the nearby forest.
Guests can expect to pay $640 a night for a room.
Desa Potato Head provided the image for the cover.
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