Traveling parents reared their kids on toddler and pint-sized kids clubs with arts and crafts, watersports and a camp-like setting. But teens have largely been left out (or worse) forced to hang out with their younger siblings. Today more resorts offer teens their own clubs that go beyond basic game rooms and rolled out night clubs and adventures. Here are five of the best to look out for before booking your next vacation.
Parents may know the Beaches Resorts brand from its Sesame Street kids club and branded daytime parades, but there is plenty for teens to do too. There’s an XBox lounge, scuba and watersports just for teens. Beaches also has a tween- and teen-only hotspot called Club Liquid where they can get away from their parents for a few hours, talk and listen to music. Musically minded kids will love the Scratch DJ Academy while teens looking to contribute can join the Sandals Foundation and visit local schools to donate books and read to kids.
Mohonk Mountain House
Tucked away in the mountains of New Paltz, N.Y., the Mohonk Mountain House designed a casual, supervised teen program for 13- to 17-year-olds with rock scrambles, tomahawk throwing and disco golf. There’s also a Teen Lounge with a PlayStation 2 and Wii for video game lovers with movies and games for kids who want to hang out and talk. Adventurous kids who want to get into the mountain air can sign-up for mountain biking and archery to brush up on their skills and brag about to their friends later.
St. Lucia’s all-inclusive Windjammer Landing is reminiscent of a Mediterranean Village with all the luxuries you expect from a beachside resort like fine dining and private villas. Teens have plenty of activities to choose from to stay busy all day from water skiing to tube riding. There’s also pool volleyball and coconut bowling on the beach. And if your teens dare to be seen with you in public later, they can join you to see the limbo dancers and fire eaters at night.
Grand Velas Riviera Maya
Grand Velas Resorts earned some street cred with teens when they opened high-tech teen lounges. Their Riviera Maya location draws teens to its activities like Play Stations, air hockey, billiards and nighttime karaoke with 45,000 songs in multiple languages. That way they can show off to their new friends while the parents enjoy a quiet dinner at one of the resort restaurants.
Your teens might take the “Hang out, have fun, be cool, and no parents allowed” motto at Smuggler’s Notch a little too seriously. Kids ages 13 to 18 can indulge in some XBox, play ping-pong and hit the snack bar. And when your teens are ready to venture outdoors, they can hit the slopes with Alpine skiing, snowboarding or telemark skiing with more than 310 acres of ski and snowboarding trails.
The point of kids and teen clubs isn’t so much to give families separation, but just make the entire experience more enjoyable. Everyone needs downtime away from each other on vacation, so you might as well indulge your teens in age-appropriate activities where the staff keeps an eye on them while you relax.