Looking for a fun family travel idea that is sure to please the entire brood? From the white sandy beaches of the Caribbean to the snow-covered mountains of Vermont, here are five “ultimate” holiday picks guaranteed to turn your next family trip into the vacation memory of a lifetime.
Ultimate Family Beach Holiday
Atlantis, Paradise Island, Bahamas
Surrounded by turquoise lagoons and white sandy beaches, Kerzner International’s awe-inspiring Atlantis, Paradise Island, Bahamas is a one-of-a-kind resort destination designed to offer the family vacation experience of a lifetime.
Home to a plethora of children’s, tweens’ and teens’ activities, the mega resort features a 141-acre water adventure park boasting 13 pools, a seven-acre snorkelling lagoon, high-speed water slides, two river rides and a life-size replica of a Mayan temple. In addition to swimming with the resident dolphins and diving the “ruins” of Atlantis, guests can ascend the resort’s state-of-the-art multi-surface climbing walls and tour the many underwater exhibits, including the world’s largest open-air marine habitat, which showcases more than 50,000 species of marine life.
While adults are sure to enjoy the seaside resort casino and the more than 40 restaurants, bars and lounges, teens won’t want to leave Crush, a 14,000-square-foot “nightclub” dedicated specifically to youth aged 13 to 17. The popular hot spot features an Internet lounge, a gaming stadium featuring a 22-foot floor-to-ceiling “gaming tree” and private cabanas stocked with state-of-the-art technology, including Kinect for Xbox 360; and a 1,500-square-foot dance club outfitted with multi-purpose video walls, a performance stage and VIP sections.
Additional dry-land activities include pottery classes, golfing, tennis, a workout in the fitness centre, a trip to the spa, racing on the Atlantis speedway, catching the latest blockbuster at the on-site theatre or enjoying an Atlantis Live performance by top recording artists, including Bryan Adams (November 5), Cody Simpson (November 12) and Brad Paisley (December 10).
Price: Low-season room rates starting at $280 per night, not including airfare.
Ultimate Family Shopping Trip
West Edmonton Mall VIA Rail Getaway
What could be more fun for kids than a train ride and shopping trip to the largest retail mall/entertainment complex in North America?
Departing from Vancouver, VIA Rail Canada’s “Edmonton Shopping Getaway” is not only fun – it’s super easy. Once on board, travellers can sit back and relax as VIA’s “Canadian” train winds its way through the snow-covered canyons and wintery forests of the Rocky Mountains.
Kids will have a ball meeting new friends in the staff-hosted “activity car” filled with games, puzzles, craft supplies and more. When it’s time to eat, family members of all ages will enjoy a freshly prepared, sit-down meal in the 1950s art-deco-style dining car, followed by a picturesque ride in VIA Rail’s famous glass-dome car.
While it’s tempting to stay up late, be sure to get a good night’s sleep – West Edmonton Mall’s Galaxyland, World Waterpark, Ice Palace and more await. All Aboooard!
Berth and cabin packages include: five nights accommodation (two nights onboard VIA Canadian, three nights hotel stay at Fantasyland Hotel or Coast Edmonton Plaza Hotel), three breakfasts, two lunches and three dinners.
Price: Starting at $791 per adult, $315 for children (ages 2-11) for five nights.
Ultimate Family Disney Holiday
Aulani Disney Resort & Spa
Designed for families and inspired by the wonders and traditions of Hawaii, the new Aulani resort and spa is a stunning beachfront paradise offering a touch of Disney magic.
Located approximately 30 minutes from Waikiki in Ko Olina, the 21-acre resort – which cost a reported $800 million to build – features a seven-acre water play area that mimics the flow of a watershed as it moves from mountain to ocean. When all phases are complete, Aulani will include 359 traditional rooms and 481 two-bedroom Disney Vacation Club villas in two towers.
Family-friendly resort amenities include the 18,000-square-foot Laniwai spa offering 15 treatment rooms and state-of-the-art fitness centre. Offering world-renowned Disney service and enchanting entertainment, Aulani allows dreamers of every age to enjoy Hawaii like never before.
Price: Room rates starting at $399 per night, not including airfare.
Ultimate Family Cultural Experience
Context Walking Tours
Intellectually curious travellers of all ages will appreciate the enlightening experience of an interactive family walking “seminar” designed by Context Travel, a network of scholars, museum educators and specialists, uniquely equipped to bring a city’s rich history to life.
Designed to engage children and their parents with the area’s culture and heritage, the fun and informative walks are led by docents trained in Visual Thinking Strategies and inquiry-based learning.
From locales including the United States to Europe, there are nine different available family outings, all of which include a special activity, such as a treasure hunt, game or painting project.
In addition to exciting family tours in London, Florence, Naples, Barcelona and Madrid, Context offers the following unique outings:
• Paris – Prepare French cuisine in the “Young Chefs” program.
• Rome – Search for papal crests in the Vatican with a trained museum educator.
• New York – Seek and find ancient Greeks and Romans in the Metropolitan Museum
• Venice – Get your hands dirty with a. marine scientist in the Venetian Lagoon.
Price: Approximately $230 to $300 per family, not including flight or accommodations.
Ultimate Family Ski Vacation
Smugglers’ Notch, Vermont
Rated #1 for family programs by Ski Magazine readers, Smugglers’ Notch is a year-round family vacation resort nestled in the heart of Vermont’s Green Mountains, just outside the city of Jeffersonville.
Surrounded by more than 3,000 acres of pristine forest and breathtaking mountain vistas, the resort’s three interconnected mountains offer northern Vermont’s biggest vertical drop at 2,610 feet. In addition to adaptive instructional programs for children with special needs, the resort’s Snow Sport University offers group and private instruction for all ages and ability levels. All-day ski and snowboard camps include Discovery Dynamos (ages 3-5), Adventure Rangers (ages 6-10), and the Notch Squad (ages 11-14). Mountain Explorers is for teens ages 15-17 and includes two hours of on-slope instruction or a full-day camp during holiday weeks. For beginner boarders, Night School for Boarding is offered two evenings a week.
Additional “Smugg’s” offerings include: ice skating, snowshoeing, snowmobile tours, dog sledding, tube sliding, airboarding, swimming, 4,000 feet of zip lines, arts and crafts workshops, a fully-licensed child care centre, plus, in the evening, families can enjoy the FunZone indoor family entertainment and recreation centre featuring an arcade, bouncy house, table games, a 22-foot double-lane slide, a 45-foot obstacle course and after-hours teen-only activities.
Ranging from studios to five-bedroom townhouses, accommodations are equipped with kitchens and located within walking distance of the village.
Price: Ski and stay packages starting at $79 (youth)/$109 (adult) per night.