You are here

Kicking it with the kids

These luxurious resorts offer peace of mind to parents who want a little R&R, with children's clubs and programmes to make even the adults look on in envy.

The Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida (above) has its own theme park.
Soneva Fushi Resort and Residences in the Maldives will launch a dedicated kids' club by the end of the year.

For Disney fans

The Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, a newish 443-room, 17-storey resort, is all about Mickey, Minnie, princesses and pirates. Although theme parks might not be every parent's cup of tea, the luxury chain's five-star hospitality should make the trip worth your while.

There's the Kids for All Seasons programme, an eight-hour complimentary children's camp supervised by trained staff. The resort also has its own theme park, the five-acre Explorer Island water park that includes a family pool, a splash zone with two 74-metre water slides, and a Lazy River snaking around a "ruined" mansion along with spray cannons, a waterfall and a rapids section.

Those missing their gaming consoles can hit up The Hideout video game room while movie buffs can watch the outdoor "dive-in" movies from the family pool every Saturday night.

Or fork out a little extra to make the occasion extra special: the hotel offers a twice-weekly breakfast buffet with Goofy and friends as well as themed welcome gifts, such as a letter from the Fairy Godmother, a tiara and magic wand for aspiring princesses.

While the kids play, the adults get to have a bit of fun too. Take a breather with a cocktail or three by the adults-only pool, play a round of golf at the hotel's Tranquilo Golf Club or enjoy a massage in the spa (which also offers makeovers for the kids).

Other perks and amenities include children aged five and under eating for free, babysitting services, a gelateria, free coach rides to the Disney theme parks (just a 10-minute ride away), and a dedicated Disney planning centre on-site. Not forgetting the food - the resort has six dining options including a Spanish-style steakhouse and an Italian restaurant.

For junior Robinson Crusoes

Soneva Fushi Resort and Residences in the Maldives is a boutique eco-resort that's already renowned for its 55 "barefoot luxury" villas (one even has a treehouse for kids to sleep in) and private butler service.

But the upcoming dedicated kids' club - to be launched by the end of the year - promises to be a whole new world of fun for the kids.

Said to be the first of its kind in the Maldives, The Den at Soneva Fushi is designed to be a big playground for kids to wander and have fun at while the adults relax on their own at the Six Senses spa, enjoy an outdoor yoga class or take an Ayurvedic wellness consultation.

And what a spectacular kid's fantasy this is, filled with an array of indoor and outdoor attractions. Two swimming pools flank the building - one for older children and parents complete with pool bar and large slide, and the other clownfish-shaped pool is for toddlers. Also outside are an eight-metre-high pirate ship, a herb garden, and a 14-metre tunnel leading to a secret garden.

Inside The Den are 10 dedicated spaces including a Lego room completely stocked with the colourful bricks, a library-and-cinema room, teenage lounge and chill-out areas. There's also a dress-up and make-up room for kids who want to play dress up, complete with large make-up table, full-length mirror, wardrobes filled with dress-up clothes and a changing room.

Aspiring musicians will love the Music Room, with guitars, a full drum kit, electric keyboard, microphones and stage lighting, as well as the deejay corner for mixing and mashing up tunes. Junior master chefs will like the well-equipped kitchen, for cooking classes and activities like sweet and cookie making. There's even a children's mocktail bar for hopeful mixologists, with hardwearing cups, specialist cocktail-making tools and bar stools.

All meals are free for kids under six, while those aged seven to 12 get their meals at half price. Babysitting services, for a fee, are also available should the parents want to have a private dinner on the beach or dive with the manta rays.

The whole family can also enjoy a host of activities together, such as glass blowing classes at the glass studio, snorkelling around the lagoon and house reef, watching movies at an open-air cinema on the beach, a telescope-equipped observatory and 60 flavours at the ice-cream parlour!

For budding eco-warriors

Similar family-friendly resorts in Ubud, Bali's cultural heart, may have villas, private pools and verdant surrounds. But thanks to a partnership with Green School Bali, once named the Greenest School on Earth, the two-month-old Mandapa, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve, is quite likely a notch above these other hotels.

Green Camp at Mandapa aims to get kids interested in sustainability and Balinese culture, with nature-based activities that hark back to the area's working rice terraces and lush jungle. "Mini Explorers" will like the organic garden, farm and Kid's Hut, that are all set a little distance away from the rest of the resort.

It's in keeping with the resort's exclusivity - Mandapa is the third property in the Ritz-Carlton Reserve portfolio of one-of-a-kind resorts, and has 35 suites and 25 private pool villas in an estate set up to look like a Balinese village. There's even a rice paddy in the centre of the resort where guests can plant and harvest the crop.

Half-day and full-day activities for kids aged five and older include kids' yoga, visiting the local temple on-site, nature walks, harvesting the on-site organic gardens, paddy exploration, making organic chocolate and even building a bamboo tower.

Parents can also join in the Green Camp with their kids, with shared activities that explore the island's healing and cultural traditions - from a jamu-making workshop to making Balinese kites.

For a full immersion programme, the three-day Green Camp Adventure offers a fun learning experience. Besides introducing Ubud's natural elements and rich cultural traditions, it also ties in a visit to the Green School, mountain hikes, traditional Balinese cooking and laughing yoga.

While the kids are kept busy, adults can take part in personalised spiritual, wellness, health and detox programmes fully attended to by a dedicated butler. Among these is a traditional Balinese healing retreat that includes a visit to a traditional healer, spa therapy and cooking classes.

They can also luxuriate at the spa with Balinese-themed treatments, practise their Sun Salutations at the yoga studio fronting the Ayung River or simply lounge by the large pool fronting the rice paddies. Lest they get peckish in between, the resort has four intimate restaurants offering European and Balinese cuisines as well as health-conscious menus.