WHILE SOME HOTELS AND RESORTS CONCENTRATE THEIR EFFORTS ON SATISFYING THE PARENTS, others know that the secret to a successful vacation lies with the little ones. After all, happy kids make happy parents.
Since all-inclusive resorts are a popular choice among families who want to keep budget costs up front, these properties have given careful thought to their youngest guests' needs, creating unique activities and amenities, kids clubs, dedicated restaurants and themed adventures.
Beaches Turks & Caicos (800-BEACHES, www.beaches.com), for example, can accommodate nearly every age group with its water theme park, Xbox Game Oasis Video Game Center, Crayola Art Camp and adventures with Sesame Street characters. The Beaches Resorts Caribbean Adventure with Sesame Street features a parade, character breakfasts, and activities with the characters such as learning to dance with Zoe and baking cookies with Cookie Monster. Sesame Street's fairy muppet, Abby Cadabby, will also make appearances at the resort this year and will be featured in the Sesame Street Stage Shows.
Imaginations can run wild at the Crayola Art Camp where specially trained staff members help young guests create projects using Crayola products, such as scavenger hunt collage frames and island wishing wands.
Beaches also has a Kids Camp for children of all ages supervised by Ultra Nannies, who are trained and certified child development specialists. Activities range from face painting and treasure hunts to magic shows and toddler splash pools. Through October 31, Beaches is running a "Sandbox Savings" promotion, offering up to 45 percent off rack rates.
On December 22, Club Med Ixtapa Pacific (800-CLUB-MED, www.clubmed.com) will debut following a $20 million transformation. Targeting young families, this all-inclusive resort will be the only Club Med in Mexico offering programs for infants and toddlers. If your clients have babies four months to 23 months old, they can sign up for Baby Club Med, which divides babies into two groups with a staff-to-child ratio of one to four. In addition to puppet shows and games, little ones will dine in style: A personal chef will prepare fresh baby food daily with natural ingredients. A 24-hour convenience room gives parents access to sterilizers, blenders and bottle warmers. Through the Club Med Baby Welcome, parents can request such items as strollers, cribs, baby baths, high chairs and changing tables.
Petit Club Med is designed for toddlers two to three years old with songs, art projects, nap time and sports, while Mini Club Med caters to four to 10 year olds. Junior Club Med is available for teens and 'tweens.
A dedicated restaurant for children, Sirena, will serve kids ages four to 10 with entertainment at each meal.
The property is also adding 204 rooms slated to open in March, which will bring the total number of rooms to 300; 75 will be family suites.
Little ones heading to Mexico's Riviera Maya can get VIP treatment at Azul Beach Hotel by Karisma (866-KARISMA, www.karismahotels.com). Kids get mini bathrobes, and the resort's chef will whip up fresh, made-to-order baby food served on kid-sized china. Also available are strollers, playpens, baby monitors, diapers, bottle warmers and even Pack 'n' Plays for the beach. For the older kids, rent walkie-talkies to keep up with their whereabouts.
Another thoughtful touch is that step stools are provided in rooms to help kids reach the sink. Professional nanny service is available in the evening and during the day. Azul Beach also has a Children's Activity Center and offers 50 percent off rates for kids three to 12.
Situated in Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic, Sol Melia's all-inclusive resort, Melia Caribe Tropical (866-43-MELIA, www.meliacaribetropical.com) teamed up with The Flintstones, offering a themed vacation for families. Fred and Dino greet young guests at their own mini check in, who, once settled in, can participate in such activities as Betty's Kitchen, the Yabba-Dabba-Do Bazaar, Stone Lake, the Fun Park and Rocadventure. Kids Clubs include the Baby Rock Club for babies four months to four years old, Bamm Bamm Club for five to eight year olds and Cool Club for nine to 13 year olds.
Another family-friendly all-inclusive in the Dominican Republic is AMResorts' Sunscape The Beach Punta Cana (866-SUNSCAPE, www.sunscaperesorts.com). A supervised Explorer's Club is available for three to 12 year olds with a new program each day. (All Explorer's Club staff members are now required to be certified in Infant First Aid and CPR.) Activities are based on science, nature and exploration. In addition to arts and crafts, sandcastle competitions, a game room and a pirate's ship waterslide, the resort runs evening movies by the beach and orchestrates weekly campout adventures. Through December 16, Sunscape is running a "Kids Stay Free" promotion valid for two children 11 and younger sharing a room with two adults.
SuperClubs recently opened its second Starfish resort, the Starfish Ilha de Santa Luzia (800-GO-SUPER, www.superclubs.com). On the estuary island of Santa Luzia in Brazil, the resort has a Children's Center for kids up to 10 years old. An entertainment program is available and lunch is provided. Babysitting and nanny service can also be arranged.
To kick off its grand opening, Starfish is offering 25 percent off rack rates through November 19, with prices starting at $50 per person double. Kids two to 13 years old can stay for $25 per night.