The family travel market is expected to grow moderately, if not robustly, over the next three to five years, according to a new study by the Family Travel Association. The survey of travel agents, tour operators, hotels and tourist boards also concluded that 80 percent of vacationing families include children from 7 to 14 years of age.
Clients planning their first big family or multigenerational getaway may wish to keep it simple and book a domestic stay before testing the waters for more exotic locales. For them, we’ve rounded up several Florida hotels that are well-suited to host families, covering a range of locations, accommodations and experiences.
At The Breakers Palm Beach, the Flagler Club is a 25-room resort within a resort on the sixth and seventh floors, accessed through a private elevator. Guests of Flagler Club receive free private car service upon arrival and departure, light bites during the day, pre-dinner appetizers and assistance from a staff of 19 members.
The two connected king bedrooms or the Flagler Club Suite, which has a pullout sofa and accommodates up to four people, can make families comfortable. For more connectivity or for multiple generations staying together, the hotel can create a six-bedroom accommodation by combining a suite and five adjacent guestrooms.
The top suites at The Breakers are the two Imperial Suites, each of which have two entrances, a foyer, five Juliet balconies, a personal concierge and panoramic views of the coastline, and can sleep up to six guests (think four adults and two children) with the help of a pullout couch and rollaway. The Imperial Suite can also be connected to four additional guestrooms and suite / living area, making it possible to sleep 16. The Breakers provides childproofing services and infant tubs, bed rails, diaper-changing tables, babysitting reservations, stools, strollers and age-appropriate movies upon request.
Kids ages three to 12 can enjoy Camp Breakers, which is open everyday of the week and offers a range of activities. A fully trained staff operates the camp and if the adults want to have dinner alone, there is also a night session, where children will play lawn games, star gaze and have bonfires on the beach. It runs until 9:30 p.m. and includes dinner.
While the young ones are kept happily busy, the grown-ups can try out the 6,000-square-foot Ocean Fitness, a facility with 10-foot-tall windows that afford ocean views. Here, guests with all types of fitness goals can participate in 60 different workout classes, cycle, experience yoga and more.
The Active Pool, one of the four pools on the property, was created with families in mind. It has 25 bungalows with personal concierge, a living area, refrigerator, TV, gaming consoles and private bathroom. Poolside activities include Kids’ Intro to Scuba and a spin art experience. Swimming lessons and water sport activities are available for an additional fee.
Those who have had enough fun in the sun can head indoors to the Family Entertainment Center. It’s open daily and includes an arcade, a toddler and children’s playroom (which parents can watch while dining at the adjacent family-friendly Italian Restaurant), an outdoor sports court and playground with sunshades during the day and lights at night. Children can also experience Florida’s marine life by visiting the Camp Room, which has a 1,000-gallon salt water aquarium filled with indigenous creatures.
In the state’s northeastern corner is the The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island, where The Ritz Kids camp gives children a chance to participate in storytelling and exploration of the nearby forest and the sand dunes, as the hotel sits on a mile-and-a-half of dune-lined beachfront. The ocean water is swimmable for children and there is a family-friendly pool as well as a spa pool on the property. The latter is also open to young guests, though it is meant to have a spa-friendly atmosphere. Children 12 and above can use select facilities at the spa, which has 26 treatment rooms.
For families celebrating a special occasion such as a birthday, the spa offers a buyout of the serenity suite or the co-ed lounge for private lunches and brunches. The hotel can also arrange several custom soft adventure experiences for families, including cooking classes, eco-waterway tours, a luxury charter boat excursion, bike tours and horseback riding on the beach. At bedtime, parents can request the “Tuck-In With a Pirate” program, which includes a buccaneer who comes to deliver milk and cookies.
Hawks Cay Resort’s Stargazer Suite comes complete with an in-room telescope.
At Hawks Cay Resort in Duck Key, FL, families flying in via private jet can land at Marathon Airport, which is about a 15-minute drive from the property and its two new themed penthouse suites. The Stargazer Suite comes complete with a whimsical feel and modern decor. It also includes an in-room telescope. The Coastal Suite is decorated in light blues and natural materials. Each can accommodate up to four guests and has 1,400 square feet of space with a living room, two bedrooms, two full baths and a private rooftop terrace.
Guests can either choose a water view or a view of the grounds. The hotel also has two- and three-bedroom villas. Most of these villas (250 in total) have kitchens with granite countertops and stainless steel appliances, as well as oversized decks.
Around the resort, groups can make use of the year-round marina for diving, snorkeling and fishing. For some adrenaline-pumping activities, guests can sign up for kite boarding, guided Jet Ski tours, sunset cruises, parasailing and Segway tours. For younger children, there is also a kids’ club named Coral Club, which includes a Pirate Ship Pool. This pool has slides, tunnels and cannons that shoot water. With a shallow, beach-type entry and a depth of only eight inches, this is a good fit for toddlers. This coming summer, the hotel will introduce Camp Hawk’s Environmental Education Program, which will teach young guests about Florida’s unique ecosystem.
Part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection, the brand new Playa Largo Resort & Spa in Key Largo, about an hour from Marathon International Airport, is the first resort to be built in the Upper Keys in more than 21 years. The property had a soft opening last month and is slated to have all of its accommodations completed by December 1; this includes the Beach House, which comes with butler service, a private chef, a personal massage therapist and a sunset cruise or eco-tour. This three-bedroom, four-bath house also has a private pool and its own beach area. In addition, there’s a lawn that works well for group barbecues. For other family-friendly options, consider the 10 secluded two-story Bungalows, set among the natural hammock trees.