Kids Club | Courtesy of Sugar Beach Viceroy, St. Lucia
Contributed by: Amrita Bhalla, Managing Director, A.B Consulting
As families plan last minute summer getaways or end-of-year getaways, a necessary break from Canada’s cold winters, we have a few helpful tips when choosing family friendly hotels.
Generally speaking, family travel is expected to increase by 25% by 2022, according to GlobalData. This not only means more families will travel, but also that hotels need to be more mindful about catering to family travellers.
Find personalized family experiences
Building personalized experiences for the entire family not only enhances their overall experience, it brings them together. This may include experience packages added onto a booking with activities in the hotel, on-property or in the area.
One resort that is thoughtfully curating kids' holiday experience is Sugar Beach, a Viceroy Resort in St. Lucia. The team at the Sugar Club offers a wide range of activities for children including treasure hunts, arts and crafts, archery, fish feeding and sand castle building at the beach.
“Our team truly has a way with kids. I hear it all the time from parents," says Mark Sterner, General Manager of Sugar Beach. "[We hear] them say, 'Normally my child is not a fan of ‘the kids club’ but they just adored the Sugar Club team; my ‘little Johnny’ had the best time.' Our team does a great job with a nice range of activities for all ages while keeping it interesting, innovative and authentic for all. My personal favourite is the tie-dye; each child has their own piece of self-made art. Also, given our location (and depending on age), the guided snorkeling tour - or for the brave ones - a guided NIGHT snorkeling tour on our house reef in the marine park, should definitely be on the bucket list.”
Education for the entire family
Learning about St. Lucia's history for Independence Day.
The education and knowledge about the story of the destination the family is travelling to is just as important as the destination.
The Sugar Club is managed by Canice Woodly and on St. Lucia’s Independence Day (February 22), the team created poster boards to educate the children on important facts about the history and people of St. Lucia in a fun and engaging way.
Boutique hotels that add educational features to a family booking such as a historical tour or informational (yet fun) books about the region allows the entire family to learn something new during their trip.
Pay attention to boutique hotels that have well-trained and informed staff. One way to notice this is seeing what sort of accommodations or “cherries on top” they will have for families. This may include additional towels for water activities, quick and timely service, air pumps for any inflatable toys, and help with baggage upon check-in and check-out.
We asked Illty Alcee, a member of the Sugar Club team what her favourite part of the job was. She said, “Hearing the kids say they love St. Lucia and sharing more about [our] culture and geography. We establish genuine connections with our little guests and hope they come back to visit us on their next family vacation.”
Sterner also shares, “I like that the team at the Sugar Club can help parents have a few extra moments to themselves, whether it’s lingering after breakfast or spa time. It’s nice to see that parents can relax and enjoy all that Sugar Beach has on offer whilst knowing their children are also at ease, having fun and exploring a new environment.”
Pay attention to family-friendly amenities
Attention to detail matters to every guest, including children. Boutique hotels with amenities for kids make them feel included and welcome on their trip. Some examples to pay attention to include junior bathrobes and slippers, customized edible treats, or family friendly movies available in the guest rooms.
Many hotels also offer free dining for children under a certain age. Prior to booking, ask your preferred hotel for any discounts on pricing for children’s meals and/or activities.