Luxury hotels in Europe are enhancing offerings for families as summer approaches. That’s particularly true in Italy.
“Come summer, there are more children than ever going to Italy on multigenerational trips. Upscale family travel is on the rise. And families aren’t just renting villas and staying in one place. They’re moving around,” Joyce Falcone, founder of customer tour operator The Italian Concierge, tells Travel Agent.
Falcone thinks there’s almost too much moving around, though.
“In ten days they want to go Tuscany, Cinque Terre, Rome and the Lake District. Trips are becoming too fast-paced,” she says.
Of course, that may be understandable, considering the extensive kids programming at some of Italy’s most acclaimed luxury properties.
“Most people don’t associate five-star boutique properties with kids clubs. But there’s a surprising amount of enrichment programs and day care available for kids from May to September,” said Falcone.
Masseria Torre Coccaro in Fasano, Puglia, is one example.
The 16th-century fortified farmhouse is now a luxury boutique property that’s “contemporary, cool and casual,” said Falcone. It offers a soccer camp and pizza-making classes for kids this summer. There’s also an extensive “Kid’s Paradise” program that includes playground, beach and ecological activities. Kids can also take part in a Gourmet Bicycle Tour of local farms to see how mozzarella and burrata are made. It’s followed by an ice cream tasting in a neighboring village.
For families interested in an active experience, Hotel Rosa Alpina is in a league of its own. The Relais & Chateaux property is located in the heart of the Dolomites. Mountain peaks, meadows and valleys provide a changing roster of summer activities for kids. Among them: mountain biking, road biking, hiking and even golf. Michelin-starred dining and award-winning spa services keep parents happy as well.
“The Dolomites are a perfect setting in the summer, since Southern Italy can be a bit hot,” Cari Gray, founder of Gray & Company, tells Travel Agent.
Elsewhere in Italy, cities known more for art exhibits and elegant masked balls are jumping on the kid-friendly theme.
The St. Regis Venice San Clemente Palace has announced new children’s welcome amenities, child care services and recreational activities for the entire family. Kids under 12 eat free and parents get 50 percent off a second room.
In Tuscany, the Ferragamo-owned Castiglion del Bosco is a set in 17th-century hamlet. In addition to 23 luxury suites, an entire building on the estate is dedicated to kid’s services. They include a Kid’s Club, playground and recreational activities tailored to the child’s age and interests.
If those interests include golf, kids can join parents on the Tom Weiskopf-designed golf course. It’s the only private course in Italy located within a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Golf is also a huge attraction at the Verdura Resort in Sciacca, Sicily. The 570-acre site is launching a new Junior Golf Academy this summer. Special trainers will go out with the kids to help them develop their skills, plus learn the rules and etiquette of the game. While the kids take a golf lesson, parents can enjoy some wine tasting and mixology lessons. And the whole family can take part in cycling excursions.
Another Sicilian property, Villa Sant Andrea in Taormina, is offering complimentary adjoining rooms for children this summer. The rooms come equipped with a Playstation, DVDs and toys. And minibars are stocked with complimentary non-alcoholic beverages. Another perk: parents can take advantage of four hours of complimentary babysitting while they enjoy dinner at the resort’s Restaurant Oliviero.
“Reaching Sicily and Verdura Resort has never been so easy with the new Meridiana direct flight launch from New York City to Palermo,” the resort’s marketing and sales director, Daniele Trombacco, tells Travel Agent.
The newly-launched Meridiana direct flights from New York (JFK) to Palermo will depart every Thursday in April, May, September and October. From June through August, an additional flight departs on Tuesdays.