Sometimes it is difficult to keep all family members happy and occupied on a vacation; parents like one activity, teens another and young ones have their own preferences.

At a resort, everyone gets to have their ideal vacation, but the trick is to select the right facility.

Finding the right property

Families want good food that even picky kids will eat, comfortable living and sleeping spaces and a variety of activities, but before shelling out a deposit, first consider the general ambiance of a prospective resort.

Some places are flip-flop casual everywhere, but old-line resorts like The Greenbrier in West Virginia or the Grand Hotel on Michigan’s Mackinac Island are rather more formal even though they do welcome kids. What is your family like, and where would they be happiest (or is it time for your hellions to learn how to dress up for dinner, you sneaky parent?!)

Pay attention to the information in promotional materials and on Web sites. The Sandals resorts in Jamaica, for example, include both family-friendly Beaches and also the Sandals resorts for “Two People in Love.” Guess where you DON’T take the kids….


Location is obviously an important consideration — are you interested in a water-soaked beachside experience, or is your family more the mountain-and-forest type? Maybe you want to let the kids go a little wild during a trip to Europe; there are resorts in the UK and Europe like the Center Parcs.

Activities and themed resorts

What about learning something while on vacation; would your kids be interested in arts or theater classes? A resort is a great opportunity to either improve in a sport that you or the kids already know, or pick up a new skill (The Breakers in Palm Beach, Florida has – no surprise here – Golf and Tennis Academies.)

Resorts may be tied into a kid-favorite TV show or movie. The splashy Nickelodeon Family Suites in Orlando, Florida is part of the Holiday Inn hotel chain, but it’s a self-contained resort with special rooms, two water parks and lots of activities tied to Nickelodeon television programming like Dora the Explorer and Jimmy Neutron. Warning: if you combine a stay there with visits to nearby Walt Disney World, the thematic commercial assault every day may be too much for your wallet or your sanity.

What do you want from your resort stay?

One of the advantages of a resort is that it is self-contained, and visitors never have to leave to find meals or activities. That can also be a drawback, especially if you are traveling outside your home country and don’t want to be confined in a walled garden, no matter how family-friendly it may be.

Can you really see Morocco by lounging on a resort beach in Essaouira or Agadir with a bunch of other Westerners? Look for places that at least arrange for tours “into town,” or ethnic cooking or arts classes from the local region.

Finally, do a lot of careful digging to ensure that all of your kids’ age ranges are provided for in terms of activities and supervision. Many parents choose resorts in order to occasionally have adult time and a break from the demanding little ones, but if the child care facilities aren’t up to snuff in terms of staffing or hours of availability, you might as well fill the baby pool in the back yard and stay home.