|While traveling with small children may have its challenges, it has many more rewards. Opting for a hotel that caters to young guests is the most effective way to ease into the experience of traveling with new additions to the family—and to witness the wide-eyed wonder on their faces. All-inclusive beach vacations, where packing is simplified and concerns over unexpected expenses (or finding kid-friendly food) are alleviated, prove to be an excellent choice for a first family trip, especially at these featured resorts:
|Bahia Principe Fantasia Punta Cana
If your little royals are fond of fairy tales, this resort is a dream come true. Opt for a room with a view of the on-site castle—yes, seriously—which overlooks the pool, a scenic upgrade from the typical moat. Painted the buttery tan of the beach with white trim and blue turrets to match the sky, it’s the sandcastle we would’ve created as kids if we could. At night, the sight becomes even more magical as a multimedia show serves as the perfect bedtime story.
While the main pool is certainly a crowd-pleaser for its front-row castle seating, the kids water park earns even more points among tiny travelers. Slides, splash areas, and a continuation of the castle theme, but with the additions of candy-colored accents in bright pink, cheery aqua, and sunshine yellow, can keep toddlers and young children entertained for hours.Offering even more opportunities to burn off energy—and give parents and guardians a break—is the complimentary kids club on site, open from 9 to 5 (after hours, babysitting services are available beginning at $15 per hour).
Children ages 4 – 12 can meet new friends during supervised play. Costume workshops, arts and crafts, cooking lessons, a mini-disco, games, and excursions on the grounds led by CPR-certified staff are just a few items on the roster; mini-golf, table tennis, and boogie boarding make for alternatives the entire family can participate in. Older children ages 13 – 17 will appreciate having a club of their own—and so will the adults. Rental bikes, soccer games, dance and cooking lessons, snorkeling, and even a silent disco provide enough additional entertainment that teens will never have an excuse to claim they’re bored.
Adult-Approved Feature: This “ecocentric” hotel is Travelife certified, assuring your stay is a responsible one.
|Grand Palladium Costa Mujeres Resort & Spa
Just a short distance away lies another top pick for families taking their first all-inclusive vacation together. Sure to deliver a “Grand” time for guests of all ages, here, everyone can find their niche. Kids will want to spend most of their time at the Mini Club, open during the day to the 4 – 12 set. Mixing education with play, all-day entertainment ranges from STEM-based projects to sing-a-longs and live shows.
A children’s pool, one of four on the grounds, offers fun the whole family can get in on, while a robust kids menu keeps fussy mealtime fits at bay. Staples like pizza, grilled cheese, chicken tenders, nachos, hot dogs, hamburgers, tacos, and basic pasta dishes fill up tiny tummies at lunch and dinner; waffles, pancakes, and french toast make the most important meal of the day a happy one all around.Helping teenagers stay smiling, the Teens Club, a full game and activities program run by the resort’s POP Entertainment team, and, of course, the pools and beach let them fluctuate between family time and time on their own.What makes the Grand Palladium Costa Mujeres really stand out, however, is a unique offering: the Baby Club. While most hotels don’t organize activities for kids younger than 3 or 4, the Baby Club welcomes 1-, 2-, and 3-year-olds between 9 AM and 5 PM.
Parents and guardians who want their children to experience the joys of travel from a young age will be pleased to know their toddlers are in capable hands, freeing them up to relax by the pool, sunbathe by the sea, or go on a day-date on the grounds—all without ever being far from their little adventurers. Plus, the resort can also arrange to have baby-musts like a complimentary pack-and-play, crib, stroller, and bottle warmer waiting in your room at check-in. For an additional cost, you can request diapers, wipes, or even formula, massively reducing the amount you need to pack.
Adult-Approved Feature: The Family Section. Offering Family Suites with kid-friendly amenities like beach toys and goggles as well as kid-sized robes, slippers, and a stool for reaching the bathroom sink, these accommodations have everything families need. Extra perks include access to a private pool and the services of a Family Host.
|Dreams Aventuras Riviera Maya
Proving bigger isn’t always better, this smaller Dreams resort is easily managed by families—but that doesn’t mean it skimps on things to do. You could stroll around the village, popping into shops or stopping for a bite to eat … and maybe even get the little one to take a nap. Or, you could get everyone in on the latest sports craze with a game of family-friendly pickleball. Bike rides around the grounds are sure to be a hit with school-age kids, and respective clubs for guests 3 – 12 and 13 – 17 offer more age-appropriate fun.
Nighttime events like movies on the beach and live shows will have the kids begging you to push back bedtime—though the adults may be tempted to take advantage of the resort’s childcare services (fee applies) for a date night on site. Come daytime, the saltwater pool on the beach makes for another popular choice. Kids can play I Spy as they search for colorful fish among the coral just beyond the shoreline (a game easily continued in a Marina View room).If you can tear the kids away, they can find more aquatic fun at the children’s pool, splashing down—or crawling up, as kids always do—the mini slides. After, let them build their own fun, literally, as you make a sandcastle down on the beach … or simply enjoy some quiet time to the sounds of the Caribbean.
Adult-Approved Feature: The connecting rooms. Parents and guardians with kids falling into a wide range of ages will want the extra space with the peace of mind of knowing everyone’s still all together. Tweens and teens will love the added privacy—and spot to Facetime their friends from.
|Catalonia Grand Costa Mujeres
Long car rides and young children are rarely a good mix. Thankfully, this resort is just over half an hour away from the Cancun airport, giving the kids enough time to have fun looking out the windows, but not so much that they start to feel restless. Once there, they’ll be able to enjoy a full mix of activities at the kids club, open to vacationers ages 4 – 10.Art classes, some incorporating Mexican crafts and others focused on designing t-shirts, headbands, masks, or bracelets, let children flex their creative muscles while yoga sessions give them the chance to physically stretch. The schedule varies by day, but kids can generally expect a lineup that also includes:
• Dance or pinata parties
• Face painting
• Movie time
• Recycled craft-making
• Outdoor play
Although open for most of the day (9:45 AM to 5 PM), the club does close between 1 and 2 PM. Parents/guardians can reconnect with the kiddos over a meal at one of the six restaurants open for lunch, each of which features a menu for young guests. The buffet, Gran Caribe, is a particular favorite for its children’s display and seating.In the afternoon, older siblings can hang out at the teens club. From 3 to 7 PM, they can show off their competitive side with trivia, Mexican Bingo, and other games; from 8 until 11, their social side can take over as they meet up with friends for (supervised) teen-only events.On nights when the whole family wants to be together, nightly shows and DJ-spun tunes at 5th Avenue keep things lively. Live music at the piano bar provides a throwback all ages can get behind. During the day, a Disney quiz led by the resort’s entertainment team lets adults tap into their childhood for smiles all around.
Adult-Approved Feature: Special pricing for the kids. Babies stay for free, children 2 – 12 get a 50% discount, and teens 13 – 17 take 30% off the adult rate. Privileged Family Suites, which accommodate up to six guests, are a popular choice for their multitude of bedding arrangements and extra living space.
|So, even if the memories don’t last for your young ones, isn’t making them the enjoyable part? And then there’s the fact that, often, the things we love most in life, we develop a fondness for early on. Let travel become one of those things your kids love.
|Dreaming of a Family All-Inclusive Vacation or beyond? I would love to help you design the perfect land or sea experience for your family! Click here to schedule a “Let’s Get Acquainted Session” with me so we can start planning your family’s next great adventure.