3 Fantastic Family Resort Vacations
By Burt Carey
When mom and dad need a break, so do the kids. Finding just the right balance of kid-friendly and adult activities, hundreds of resorts across the United States have geared up to make your next family vacation just as peaceful or energizing as you want.
As you make travel plans for the coming summer, you might want to consider these three world-class destinations.
Port St. Lucie, Florida
Two- and three-story bungalows are spread throughout Club Med’s Sandpiper Bay, plus another 310 rooms and 27 suites in the St. Lucie River House. Programs are age-appropriate for kids aged 4 months to 13 years. All of this is situated just about a two-hour drive north from Miami.
Staff counselors here are carefully selected and must be at least 21 years of age. Activities at the lone all-inclusive Club Med in the continental U.S. include tennis, beach volleyball, golf, bocce ball, basketball, table tennis and sailing. There’s also a huge water park and four lifeguard-attended swimming pools. Kids camps are operated year-round with day and evening sessions. There’s late-night group childcare available along with dive-in movies, and teens can go to Latitude 27, a supervised club experience.
Adults can enjoy luxuries such as an adults-only pool, the Club Med Spa by L’Occitane, deep-sea fishing, riverboat cruises and golf.
If you’re not sure the kids will have enough to do, children ages 4 and older can attend Circus School, where they lean to walk a tightrope and fly through the air on a trapeze while comfortably and safely harnessed. Other activities include a hip-hop dance program for kids 4 and older, a happy gym for toddlers, and an opportunity to play musical instruments and listen to international music.
Amelia Island, Florida
Located on a grand stretch of pristine coastline, the Ritz-Carlton at Amelia Island in northern Florida is the perfect resort for families to reconnect. The kids will love it right from the get-go. They can learn all about the fun activities at the check-in desk while they enjoy a complimentary cookie.
What was once a pirate harbor on a barrier island is now a bustling vacation destination with water sports and beach activities sure to make every family member smile. Child counselors here don pirate and princess costumes to tell stories and host sing-alongs by bonfire. They also host pirate hayrides and puppet shows. One family trip you’ll want to take is the five-mile boat ride to Cumberland Island National Seashore to see the wild horses that live there.
The resort’s base is a U-shaped building with 47 suites, three specialty suites, and 446 rooms, all with an ocean view and a private balcony.
While the kids play, adults can indulge in sunrise tai chi on the beach, play on a championship golf course, and then relax for a romantic evening next to a portable clay fireplace called a chiminea.
You’ll fondly remember your time at Amelia Island by taking home a complimentary 8×10 family photo.
Dating to the 1920s, the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa has been a retreat for Southern Californians for generations. This is the place to go when you want to combine luxury with an enriching experience for every member of the family.
Camp Oak provides kid-friendly activities for ages 4 through 12 such as bike riding, fishing, dive-in movies at the Pixie Pool, and themed programs at Undersea Adventures and the Camp Oak Laboratory. Teens here enjoy rock climbing, geo-caching, surfing and golfing. The property also has an 800-acre ranch and stables, featuring a big red barn and silo, a petting farm and 36 horses. Wranglers take kids on pony rides.
The Ojai Valley Inn & Spa sits on 220 acres surrounded by mountains 35 miles south of Santa Barbara. It has 19 buildings with courtyards and walkways. The 305 guestrooms and suites are restored to their original Spanish Colonial style. Accommodations are residential in style with contemporary décor. The Olivella dining experience celebrates fresh California produce. There’s also The Oak, Wallace Neff Bar, Jimmy’s Pub and the Spa Café.
As you would expect from a family resort, mom and dad can sneak away for some time of their own. The property has four luxury pools; the Indigo Pool & Bar is for adults only and boasts of a luxurious environment for pure relaxation. Mom is going to love the 31,000-square-foot Spa Ojai, and one or both parents can play the 18-hole championship golf course.