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Where to Shop Around for a Family-Friendly Hotel

by Carley Wade

Jan 3, 2018

© Denis Moskvinov | Dreamstime.com

Travel Tips

Walk-outside-the-door proximity to the samurai exhibits at the Peabody Essex Museum. Bakeries and ice cream shops aplenty. And the opportunity to take pictures and dress like a witch or a warlock. Hotel Salem’s got it on lock, the newest boutique offering in the Lark Hotel Group’s myriad of family-friendly properties. The Massachusetts-born brand christened its newest baby with an autumn opening — in time for Halloween! — and the 44-room, loft-style hot spot is smack-dab in the center of Witch City’s pedestrian mall for great access to all of the kid-friendly activities (especially if you’re pushing a stroller).


Hotel Salem, Lark Hotels

© Lark Hotels

That’s nothing new for the brand, which offers plenty of family lodgings in New England and California. With three properties on Martha’s Vineyard, there are plenty of opportunities to live it up like Sasha and Malia do on summer vacation, especially at Summer Camp. Named as an ode to the building’s former occupants (a church camp), there’s plenty of fun with a game room featuring table tennis in the front parlor, funky coffee bar with local artisanal donuts and fun, nostalgic furnishings from Boston interior designer Rachel Reider. Looking for beach fun elsewhere? There’s also Blue, with luxury cottages on Plum Island, one of Massachusetts’ quietest toddler-friendly beaches, and Blue Door Group in Mendocino, Calif., with huge rooms and ocean views. Each location also puts together curated weekend booklets with ideas of what to do with your kids depending on their age, interests and physicality level.


Other boutique hotel chains put special touches on your weekend away, too. Kimpton’s 30 cities and counting are located near child-friendly attractions like bike paths, parks and children’s museums. Kids get a welcome gift, a guppy in the room (taken care of by housekeeping), on-site restaurants with plates palatable for the little ones, bunk beds, child-sized bathrobes and babysitting services. At the Kimpton Marlowe in Cambridge, Mass., for instance — located right near the giant, iconic Museum of Science T-Rex statue — there are not only bikes of all sizes available to check out for free, but kayaks for the adjacent Charles River and paddle boards. Kids can pick out a treat from the treasure chest (anything from tiaras to Play-doh), and during nightly wine hours, kids are treated to a balloon artist.


Ritz Kids programs are unique to each city or resort property, but they all focus on ecological sustainability including four key pillars: water (healthy sea life); land (exploration and discovery); environmental awareness; and culture (arts, music, history, cuisine). Designed for ages 4–12, activities in San Juan, for instance, focus on coral reefs along one of Puerto Rico’s best beaches; in Kapalua, Maui, there’s snorkeling expeditions, underwater-photography classes and workshops on turtles, whales and Hawai’ian culture. Supervised sessions start at three hours and run $50-plus (which includes cost of activities and materials).


Omni Hotels’ Kids Fantasy Suites feature sized-just-right bedding, bean bag chairs, an art table, books, games and toys and a connecting room for the parents. The Omni Kids Crew includes a backpack filled with fun items like an activity book with stickers, crayons, card games and milk and cookies delivered on the first night. Kids Clubs in several resorts in the South and San Diego are geared toward ages 5 through 12, with arts and crafts, swimming games and sports. Snacks and lunch are provided so adults can enjoy resort activities independently.

Beagle in Hotel room with Family

Photo: Soloway | Dreamstime.com


Loews Loves Kids — and kids love Loews, which gives those 10 and under an activity book at check-in. Most hotels (located in major cities) have kid-friendly closets too, stocked with toys, books, board games, electronics, strollers and youth-friendly DVDs. The rooms make it easier for Mom and Dad, too, since there are nightlights, child-proofing kits, roll-aways and cribs available upon request, and suites and connected accommodations. Don’t forget Fido — family pets are also welcome (but must be mentioned ahead of time).


Ever wanted to hop on a plane without having to carry extra supplies, formula and a playpen? Wyndham’s got you covered, with Jet Set Babies—all supplies can be ordered in advance of your stay. Family rooms offer multiple bathrooms, and on-site dining has several tasty options, including reduced rates for kids dining. Viva properties in the Bahamas, Dominican Republic and Mexico even include the free Kids’ Retreat, supervised activities for ages 4 to 12 with arts, water sports, face painting and more. There are also easy-to-book cultural activities appropriate for the whole family


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