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Travel & Holiday

Give the kids a break

Upmarket resorts are becoming more child-friendly to meet the demands of discerning travellers
The Straits Times - May 15, 2012
By: Huang Huifen
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Give the kids a break Safari tours at the Werribee Open Range Zoo. -- PHOTO: COURTESY OF MR & MRS SMITH

Parents used to luxe holidays need not settle for less when travelling with their children. More upmarket hotel brands such as One&Only and Amanresorts have evolved to include more kid-friendly facilities and services at their resorts.

Even couple-centric boutique hotel collection Mr & Mrs Smith is launching a child-friendly hotel collection at the end of the year.

Mr Simon Westcott, the managing director and co-founder of Mr & Mrs Smith Asia Pacific, says: 'There's a growing demand from discerning travellers for stylish family-friendly holiday accommodation because parents have grown accustomed to a certain standard and do not want to compromise when they travel with the kids.'

Many of the resorts have child-friendly features such as baby-sitting services and activities such as cooking classes to keep them entertained while parents can either opt to join them or take time out for some couple time.

Mr Stephane Laguette, Sofitel Asia Pacific's vice-president of sales, marketing and distribution, says he has seen greater demand for luxury family travel in the past five years, in part because 'children now have a bigger influence on holidays'.

'This is why we consider children as small adults for whom we have to tailor experiences to suit their distinct preferences and needs,' he says.

For example, at Sofitel Angkor Phokeethra Golf And Spa Resort in Siem Reap, spa treatments for children aged five to 12 have been introduced. Likewise at the One&Only Le Saint Geran in Mauritius, which offers parent-child manicures and mother-daughter hairstyling.

Child-less travellers need not worry too much about the presence of children in these luxe resorts. Hotels say they try to maintain the peace as much as possible. For example, Mr Fabrice Ducry, the general manager of Sofitel Angkor Phokeethra Golf And Spa Resort, says his resort has a designated kids' area in the pool so they will not disturb other guests, and couples are seated further away in more secluded parts of restaurants to ensure their privacy. At Amanresorts' Amanwana in Indonesia's Moyo Island, excursions and dining venues are arranged on a private basis.

Here, Life! picks 10 stylish kid-friendly resorts that you can book for an upcoming family vacation.

AUSTRALIA

Mansion Hotel & Spa at Werribee Park

What: This 91-room heritage boutique hotel, located 30 minutes from Melbourne city, is situated in sprawling Werribee Park, which offers families attractions such as safari tours at the Werribee Open Range Zoo, strolls in the Victoria State Rose Garden with more than 5,000 blooms, and tours of the 19th-century Werribee Mansion. The 1870s Italianate retreat provides baby cots, baby chairs, babysitting services (A$105 or S$132 for four hours), a kids' menu, and interconnecting superior rooms and junior suites. With the young ones either entertained or safely tucked out of the way, adults can enjoy sundowners at the hotel's sleek-looking bar, swim in the 17m-long indoor heated pool or pamper themselves with a spa treatment.

Price: From A$335 for a superior room which includes breakfast, access to Werribee Park and wine-tasting.

To book: Go to www.mrandmrssmith.com or call the Travel Team on +800-321-1098.

INDONESIA

Amanwana, Moyo Island

What: Families can look forward to a luxury camping experience on Moyo Island, an hour's plane ride from Bali.

The resort, under the Amanresorts brand, contains 20 luxurious air-conditioned and hardwood floor tents with canvas ceilings - good for a family with two children. Parents can sleep on the king-size bed while the kids take the daybeds. The 58 sq m tents can accommodate a baby cot too.

Family-friendly activities include snorkelling, fish feeding, nature excursions to waterfalls and watching cartoons at an open-air cinema.

Price: From US$3,212 (S$4,019) for the Amanwana Nature Experience package, which includes three nights in a jungle tent, meals, waterfalls excursion, an hour-long massage and a beach dive.

To book: Go to www.amanresorts.com

BALI

Alila Villas Soori

What: Bond with your children over activities at this luxurious all-villa beachfront resort. The resort on the south-west coast of Bali has paid and free activities for children aged four to 12 years, and parents are encouraged to join in. These range from half-day cooking classes (250,000 rupiah or S$34), to kite-making and flying (200,000 rupiah) sessions. But if you would rather have some time out from the children, resort staff will take care of them, and even take them to explore a bat cave for free. Babysitting is available at 100,000 rupiah an hour. Adults can pamper themselves at the spa, yoga classes or in their villa's private pool.

Price: From US$1,195 (S$1,503) for two nights under the Spring Break package, which includes accommodation in a one-bedroom villa, 90-minute spa treatment for adults, dinner for adults, round-trip airport transfers and yoga classes.

To book: Go to www.alilahotels.com/soori

Luna2 Private Hotel

What: Located in Seminyak, this five-bedroom modernist private hotel owned and decorated by English interior designer Melanie Hall looks striking and packs a fun punch. With 25 staff at your beck and call, including your own team of chefs to whip up meals to satisfy your cravings, the place is ideal for lazing by the pool while others take care of your kids. The young ones can participate in supervised pool games, dinner parties and movie nights, or occupy themselves with the Xbox and PlayStation in the playroom. Babysitting services are complimentary.

Price: From US$3,000 (S$3,760) a night for exclusive use of the hotel,includes return airport transfers, use of two cars and drivers, daily sunset canapes, and staff service.

To book: Go to www.designhotels.com

MALAYSIA

Tanjong Jara Resort

What: Nine hours' drive from Singapore, on the east coast of Malaysia, is the tranquil 99-room Tanjong Jara Resort. There, families can immerse themselves in cultural experiences such as batik painting classes (from RM50 or S$20 a sq ft of cotton screen, from age four) or nature pursuits such as a Marang River cruise (RM150 a person, no minimum age) to spot monkeys and iguanas.

Up for a fitness challenge? The resort's naturalist conducts free jungle walks for hotel guests. In the evenings, sit down to a kampung game of congkak, a marble board game, or watch a trained monkey pluck coconuts for the children. Babysitting services are available on request at RM20 an hour a child.

Price: From $333 a night for minimum two-night stay in a basic-tier room under YTL Hotels' latest Residents' Packages for Singapore residents. Includes accommodation and meals. Terms and conditions apply.

To book: Call YTL Travel Centre on 6836-2455, e-mail travelcentre.sg@ytlhotels.com or go to www.ytlhotels.com

VIETNAM

The Nam Hai

What: A 100-villa beachfront boutique hotel in Hoi An on Vietnam's central coast, the Nam Hai accommodates kids as happily as they do honeymooners.

Its Children's Club offers an array of activities such as tug-of-war and kite-flying to keep the kids entertained, while parents rejuvenate in spa sessions or take a dip in one of the resort's three pools, which have lifeguard supervision and are open to children. The one- to five-bedroom villas are spacious - 80 sq m to 660 sq m - and can accommodate cots or extra beds (US$35 or S$44 a night). And as befitting any self-respecting family-oriented vacation spot, its restaurant has a kids' menu and babysitting can be arranged for US$20 an hour.

Price: US$540 a night for a one-bedroom villa from www.mrandmrssmith.com, valid till Dec 19. Luxury tour operator Lightfoot Travel has a Stay 4 Pay 2 summer exclusive deal from US$2,252.25 for four nights in a one-bedroom villa, daily breakfast and non-alcoholic beverages in the mini bar and shuttle service to Hoi An town.

To book: Call Lightfoot Travel on 6438-4091 or e-mail info@lightfoottravel.com

CAMBODIA

Hotel Sofitel Angkor Phokeethra

Golf And Spa Resort

What: Little ones can enjoy spa pampering at French luxury hotel brand Sofitel's Siem Reap property.

It recently introduced spa treatments for children aged five to 12, accompanied by their parents. A 60-minute massage costs US$45 (S$56). There is also a 90-minute Mommy And Me package (US$120), where mum enjoys a body scrub while her child has a chocolate-flavoured body wrap in a VIP room. Both get massages too.

The hotel, just 10 minutes' drive from the Angkor Wat ancient temple complex, is also one of 100 Sofitel properties offering the Magnifique Family package, where children get Le Petit Prince-themed welcome amenities such as a travel diary.

Other child-friendly features include a complimentary kids' club for ages three to 12, where they can play with toys such as a bowling set, card games and a kitchen set under the supervision of the staff, and a kids' menu at the main international cuisine restaurant The Citadel.

The resort also has an 18-hole, par 72 course for parents who golf.

Price: From US$101 a night under the Magnifique Family package. Package includes accommodation, 50 per cent discount for a second room for children, free breakfast for children, and optional late check out till 4pm. Valid till the end of the year.

To book: www.sofitel.com

MAURITIUS

One&Only Le Saint Geran

What: Hear that? That is the sound of taut, frazzled parental nerves relaxing upon stepping into this swanky resort property with its comprehensive kids and youth programmes.

Its KidsOnly Youth Fitness programme offers activities such as junior boxing (US$67 or S$84 for kids above eight years); a five-day junior lifeguarding programme (US$345 for ages 11 to 14), which teaches swimming skills, water safety and nutrition; the Chinese martial art of taiji (free); and junior spa treatments for ages six to 16, such as manicure, massages and facials using organic products. Spa packages for the whole family, which start at US$110, range from parent-child manicures to mother-daughter hairstyling. Junior spa treatments start from US$35.

The property has also worked with renowned English author Annabel Karmel, who has written numerous books on child nutrition, to create a kids' menu. Items on it include chicken fajitas and vegetable bolognese. The grown-ups can enjoy complimentary water sports, such as water skiing and windsurfing, or a round of golf in the nine-hole golf course designed by South African golfer Gary Player.

Price: From US$430 a night for a junior suite.

To book: Go to lesaintgeran.oneandonlyresorts.com

JAPAN

Motoyu Ryuusenkaku - Arima Onsen

What: A hot springs resort may not seem suited for the tykes but this ryokan in Kobe City's Arima Onsen town provides a plethora of baby- and kid-friendly amenities so families can indulge in a good soak. From private family outdoor baths for six people (2,000 yen or S$31.34 for 45 minutes) to baby-bathing stools to in-room dining service, this ryokan is a great way for parents and children to relax. There is no minimum age required to enter the onsen.

Price: From 17,000 yen a person. Includes breakfast and a full-course dinner. Children between the age of six and 12 can get up to 50 per cent off ryokan rates. There is a spa bath tax of yen 150 a person.

To book: Go to www.ryuusenkaku.jp

THAILAND

Angsana Laguna Phuket

What: Angsana Hotels and Resorts' 409-room flagship property offers 47 child-friendly 45 sq m rooms. Called Laguna Premier Rooms, these have a living area where beds can be set up for children.

Its two-storey Tree House Kids Club, for children aged one to 16, has a library, arts and craft studio, and Internet and video corner, complete with a check-in area for tots. Nine staff members are on hand to conduct a range of free and paid activities such as kids muay thai (free) and Chiang Mai umbrella painting class (150 baht or S$6 to 250 baht). Children under the age of four must be accompanied by an adult.

Children can also meet the resort's two baby elephants (free). Teenagers can take part in sea sports such as sailing and kayaking for free.

In the meantime, parents can lounge on the daybeds at the chic beach club or play a round of golf at the resort's 18-hole course.

Price: From 29,438 baht for two nights under the Family Fun Getaway package, which includes accommodation in a Laguna Premier Room, daily breakfast, elephant ride, return airport transfers, cultural show tickets and use of two bicycles.

To book: Call +66-76-358-555, e-mail reservations-lagunaphuket@angsana.com or go to angsana.com

 
PHOTOS: COURTESY OF MR & MRS SMITH, AMANRESORTS, ALILA HOTELS AND RESORTS, LUNA2 PRIVATE HOTEL, YTL HOTELS

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