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Travel & Holiday

Kid-free resort? Perfect

More hotels in the region are creating child-free zones to cater to a rising demand.
The Sunday Times - November 4, 2012
By: Nicholas Yong
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Kid-free resort? Perfect Club Med's Cherating branch recently introduced a Zen Space (above), a pool overlooking the beach that bars children from under 18 years. -- PHOTOS: COURTESY OF CLUB MED

Good news for honeymooners, singles and anyone who wants a break from children on their next holiday - and yes, that includes parents who need some time out from their brood.

A growing number of hotels and resorts in the region are carving out child-free spaces for guests. Some are even banning children altogether.

In Koh Samui, the year-old Akyra Chura Samui resort banned children under the age of 12 from last Thursday, in response to customer demand for more private, couples-oriented holidays. It has a nightly rate of 4,400++ baht (S$175).

The Cherating branch of French resort chain Club Med recently introduced a Zen Space, which is a pool overlooking the beach that is strictly off-limits to children under 18. Club Med's branches in Phuket and Bali also have Zen Spaces.

A Club Med spokesman tells SundayLife! the goal of the Zen Space is to provide a "dedicated area for adults to enjoy such facilities and also spend quality time together".

One airline has jumped on the adults-only bandwagon too.

In April, Malaysian Airlines announced to travel agents that children will be barred from the upper deck economy section of its A380 flights. This follows its move last year to ban infants from first-class cabins, reportedly after complaints from other passengers about crying babies.

In a statement, an MAS spokesman said it was positioning its economy class on the main deck as a family- friendly zone.

"The main deck has more facilities such as toilets and the dual aerobridge airport facility supporting this deck will also mean a speedier embarkation and disembarkation for this group of passengers."

He added that families with infants and children will still be accommodated in the upper deck when there is "overwhelming demand" for economy class seats.

CTC Travel's senior vice-president for marketing and public relations Alicia Seah says the move towards more adults-only holidays started a decade ago in the region.

For example, the Jamahal Private Resort & Spa, Kayu Manis Nusa Dua and The Bale, all of which are in Bali, are off-limits to those under 16.

Jamahal and The Bale opened in 2001 while Kayu Manis opened in 2004. Their rates range from about US$230 (S$280) to US$1,200 a night.

In Koh Lanta, Thailand, the eight-year-old Layana Resort allows guests only aged 18 and above.

Frontline office manager Nathaya Phoyenti says: "This is a resort for couples and adults so that they can come here and relax without any noise or children in the swimming pool. So we have no facilities for children."

Sometimes, children are prohibited from accessing certain parts of a resort for safety reasons.

For example, in 2010, the 12-year- old Club Med Kani in the Maldives stopped families with children under 14 from staying at its lagoon suites. This was due to safety issues as the suites are located in the ocean and the walkways linking the suites have no safety railings.

Mr Paul Counihan, director of sales and marketing at Akaryn Hospitality Management Services, which owns the Akyra Chura Samui resort, says: "From talking with guests, we have noted that the ambience at the resort is changed if we have a young family with us enjoying the resort, versus when we do not have any children staying with us."

Asked how the move has affected bookings, he would only say that bookings are doing "very well" and that guests have responded positively.

Travel agents Chan Brothers and ASA Holidays say they do not often get requests for adults-only packages.

However, CTC has seen the proportion of free-and-easy travellers opting for adults-only resorts in countries such as Japan, Malaysia and Thailand grow from 15 per cent last year to about 40 per cent this year.

Housewife Caroline Lim, 36, visited Club Med Cherating Beach with her husband last month.

The couple, who do not have children, tried out the Zen Space and Ms Lim says it was "interesting" to go to a place with absolutely no children for once.

"When you go to a place that has kids, they talk really loudly, play and scream, and you have to raise your voice just to be heard. But it was very quiet where we were."

Chief financial officer J. Lee, 50, has been visiting ryokans (traditional Japanese inns) in Japan with his wife for the last five years. The couple leave their two children, aged 17 and eight, at home as these inns usually do not allow children under the age of 12.

"It is a good excuse to tell the kids that we can't take them along," says Mr Lee with a laugh.

"It's a chance to relax and have some privacy. You forget everything and don't have to worry about the kids. It's also good to enhance the relationship with the wife."

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