When it comes to family fun at today's resorts, more and more resorts are catering to children with a variety of kids' programs. However, the quality of these programs still various pretty significantly. It's not enough at a top property to have a table with arts and crafts, a pool and a playground. As parents we want to give our children the opportunity to experience the destination, spend time exploring and learn something. We've come to expect more, and so have our kids.

The resorts highlighted here all operate a supervised children's program, camp or club, where you can drop your children off daily to participate in organized activities. They each dedicate ample and separate space for the children's activities, each offers something extraordinary, above and beyond the expected.

Written by Carrie Calzaretta
Cayman, The Ritz Carlton's children's program, Ambassadors of the Environment, is as unique and educational as it is entertaining. Created in conjunction with Jean-Michel Cousteau, the program offers kids ages four to 18 the opportunity to explore their surroundings with cool adventures like pontoon boat rides through the mangroves, and rides in the resort's own submarine, Atlantis XI, which sinks to a depth of 100 feet so kids can view the underwater reefs off Grand Cayman first-hand.

The program allows kids to choose six from more than 40 themed experiences each day. Three modules are geared for ages four to seven and three for ages eight to 17. The program divides into morning (9:30 a.m. through 12:30 p.m.), afternoon (2 through 5 p.m.) and evening (6:15 through 9 p.m.) segments. Parents are encouraged (but not required) to share these activities with their kids.

In Discovering Sea Turtles, kids learn all about the creature's habitat, as well as environmental threats to their wellbeing. They even get to track two tagged (real) green sea turtles. In Fun With the Sun, kids make solar prints and eat cookies they've baked in a solar oven. Other popular themes are Eco-Chefs, Traditional Caymanian Crafts, and the Sea Floor Submarine Adventure.

Read our review of The Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman.

Although its stunning location on Maui's Wailea Beach might be enough to please the kids, The Grand Wailea (part of the Waldorf Astoria collection) has a wonderful supervised children's program for kids ages five to 12 years. Camp Grande is over 20,000 square feet, open seven days a week and offers full day, morning, afternoon and night camp. The spread is impressive and includes a whale-shaped outdoor wading pool, a play kitchen and tool set, a private movie theater, snack bar, craft room and a full-sized soda fountain. Other popular spots are the game room, which has foosball, ping-pong, and pool, and the arcade. Children can participate in activities like exploring tidal pools, sandcastle building, nature walks, Hawaiian lei making, and hula lessons. Night Camp includes dinner, a Walkie Talkie Tag at Night game, sand crab hunting, theater games, scavenger hunts and more.

Read our review of the Grand Wailea.

The Mohonk Mountain house has a fairytale setting kids will love, nestled in the secluded woods of the Hudson River Valley. The resort's children's program stands out because it puts the kids in touch with nature and local wildlife through an impressive array of outdoor activities. Parents of toddlers will also appreciate that Mohonk accepts children as young as two years old, as opposed to the standard three. A full-day program is open from mid-June through Labor Day and kids ages two to 12 can join in hikes, take pony rides, go on frog hunts, go swimming, take boat rides, as well as get plenty of beach and playground time.

Older kids (seven to 12) also have the option of learning rock scrambling, as well as joining in tennis and golf clinics and sports tournaments. Supervised activities for children ages 13 to 17 take place in the Teen Lounge, a separate space where teens can listen to music, watch movies and just hang out away from mom and dad. In the winter, kids can take ice-skating lessons, go snow tubing, or snow shoeing. Mohonk also offers a program for children ages four to 12 on Saturday evenings.

Read our review of the Mohonk Mountain House.

The Cloister at Sea Island, located on five miles of private beach on Georgia's Atlantic coast, has an impressive children's center. The resort's seasonal kid's club, Camp Cloister, has an impressive selection of activities for children ages three to 12, including fishing, crabbing, baking and even tennis and shooting schools. Each day explores a different theme, from pirates to frogs and birds, and kids participate in activities like arts and crafts, scavenger hunts, and fishing. There is a separate space, Club Sea Island, for pre-teens (nine to 12), which operates during peak travel periods. On Saturdays kids can don their own personalized chef hats and play chef as they bake and decorate cookies. This resort's club also operates a children's dinner on Friday and Saturday nights for kids ages three to 12, so parents can dine solo.

The Shooting School at the Cloister at Sea offers private and group lessons, and an Air Rifle Bull's-Eye Hour for children ages five to 12 takes them on educational adventures in the great outdoors, like reptile encounters and summertime campouts.

Read our review of the Cloister at Sea Island.

Hyatt Regency Tamaya is a great example of a resort that takes great care to enrich the children's program with local culture and flavor. The 500-acre resort is located on part of a Native American Pueblo and offers kids ages three to 12 the chance to experience the art and history of this culture first-hand within organized activities at Camp Hyatt. Kids will create their own sand paintings, play Native American games, and explore the Rio Grande River on a guided stroll of the Bosque. Camp Hyatt works with National Geographic Kids to create eco-friendly and locally inspired activities. Each day of the week brings a different theme, including New Mexico Sunday, Tamaya Monday, Hisru Ku Hinu (You and Me) Tuesday, Wildlife Wednesday, Land of Enchantment Thursday, Farming Friday and Native American Saturday.

In addition to the kids' program, Hyatt Regency Tamaya offers other family activities like trail riding, Pueblo pottery making, adobe brick making, hot air balloon rides and Native American stories under the stars.

Read our review of the Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort & Spa.

If it's luxury you're after, the posh Half Moon Rose Hall in Jamaica promises to spoil your kids as much as they spoil you. Half Moon's kids' program is housed in the resort's Anancy Children's Village, where kids ages three to 12 can join in many different supervised activities. Named after Jamaica's fabled children's character "Anancy the Spider," the space includes shaded play areas, activity rooms, a wading pool and a sand box. There are puppet shows in Tacoomah Hut, cold refreshments in Patoo's Lookout, an arts and crafts area and daily story times.

Teens can participate in tennis clinics, volleyball, nature walks, golf, squash, horseback riding and water sports. The Hype Zone is open to teens 13 to 17 and has a game room with air hockey, table tennis and pool, a cyber lounge with Internet access and a mini spa.

Half Moon's Equestrian Centre has horses and rides to fit every skill level. Guided tours will take you on a ride through paths in the hills or valleys, or down to the beach. The resort's Dolphin Lagoon is a great opportunity for kids ages four and older to get a hands-on experience with the dolphins. They are allowed enter the water to touch, swim and play with them.

Read our review of the Half Moon Rose Hall.

Franklyn D. Resort's children's program scores major points from parents with babies because if it's unique nanny service. When you check in to the resort, you are assigned our own personal nanny for the duration of your stay. She is available every day from 9 a.m. until 4:40 p.m. and will do it all, including bathing and dressing the kids, and feeding them breakfast and lunch. FDR's supervised kids' club for ages birth to 16 offers tons of organized activities for children of all ages, including picnics, cooking classes, playground and computer time, beach games, movies and games. Nannies can (but do not need to) supervise all of these activities. Teens have their own program and can take part in discos, group trips, dance classes, scuba diving (through an outside company, for a fee) board games, and organized sessions to get to know one another. Activities run from 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. so mom and dad can have dinner alone if they choose.

Read our review of the Franklyn D. Resort.

The Ritz-Carlton, Naples, overlooking Florida's Gulf Coast, is home to the impressive Nature's Wonders Center, where kids (and parents!) will be wowed with the sanctuary they have created there. There are 11 aquariums housing fish, sharks, crabs, jellyfish, eel and even alligators, and touch talks allow kids to get hands-on. Older children can make use of a small lab with microscopes, slides and Petri dishes to learn about tiny marine life. Programs available through the Nature Wonders program include nature walks through the butterfly garden, boat rides to the estuary, learning about alligators, participating in feeding, beach combing, among other field trips. The Nature's Wonder camp is open to kids ages five to 12 daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Kids can attend for a full-day, half-day or for an hour at a time.

Other cool spaces for kids are the Nature Vision Theater, which plays National Geographic and Discovery Channel specials and Disney movies, and the vue (virtual user experience) lounge, which is open to kids ages eight and older. The vue houses interactive virtual reality games played on 40-inch LCDs, as well as XBox 360, Playstation 3 and Wii.

Read our review of The Ritz-Carlton, Naples.

Smugglers' Notch, or "Smuggs" as it is affectionately known, is arguably the best ski resort out there for families. Their ski lessons for kids (which begin at age 2.5) are second to none, and led by friendly and knowledgeable instructors. Group classes and private lessons are available for every skill and comfort level imaginable. But there is more to Smuggs than just skiing. They also offer snowboarding, snowshoeing, dogsledding, airboarding, snowmobiling, skating and tubing. During the warmer months, children ages three to 17 can participate in summer camp where they may take swimming lessons, go hiking, biking, paddle, join in theater and music projects, and do arts and crafts.

The resort's supervised childcare center, Treasures, is open daily to children from six weeks to three years old. With almost 10,000 square feet of total space, indoors and out, they will be entertained with singing, arts and crafts, a ball pit and story time.

Read our review of Smugglers' Notch Resort.

Moms and dads visiting San Diego will love The Hotel Del Coronado's children's facility, Kidtopia. The program offers three-hour camps and one-hour programs for children ages four to 12, with plenty of fun indoor and outdoor activities. There is a beach-themed room where kids can put on stage performances, a cool funhouse mirror and entertainment stations with computers. But what's a visit to San Diego without hitting the surf? Perhaps the best feature of the program is the surfing lessons, which are available for kids ages six and older three days a week. They'll provide the equipment, wet suit and lesson for a fee of $90.

The resort also has a space dedicated to teens ages 13 to 17. VIBZ, a hip lounge, has computers, karaoke and foosball tables. Teens ages 13 and up can also visit the spa for special massages and facials. Summertime activities for the whole family include dive-in movie nights, surf camps and family S'mores night.

Read our review of the Hotel del Coronado.

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10 Best Kids' Programs
The Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman Reviews
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Grand Wailea - A Waldorf Astoria Hotel Reviews
jaymike310 - Jun 28th, 2012

This hotel was amazing!!! There were so many water slides and pools, and the beach was so clean and perfect that we debated that it was artificially created! The grounds of the resort were immaculate, and the chapel area where our room was located ... read more
HEFFNER - Nov 30th, 2011

I have been going to this hotel for 10 years in a row now, from the time I was 12. There has never been a dull moment. They provide plenty of supervised activities for kids 5 and up, and adults can go off on their own to do what they please. ... read more
Grand Wailea - A Waldorf Astoria Hotel reviews
Mohonk Mountain House Reviews
qwertyu840 - Aug 8th, 2011

Mohonk Mountain House has been the highlight oh my familie's year for the past 15 years. We go for a week during the summer every year. We go with my entire family, meaning about 24 people. When we wake up in the morning the beds are comfortable ... read more
Mohonk Mountain House reviews
The Cloister Sea Island Reviews
joshnix - Oct 27th, 2011

Hotel The Family Greats: The tennis club, for my wife and children. They played twice during the week. If you have children (we do 6 and 9) let them enjoy the Camp Cloister and Club Sea Island. They had a great time and made a few new friends. Our ... read more
The Cloister Sea Island reviews
Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort & Spa Reviews
srvsanders - Feb 12th, 2013

My extended family stayed here over Thanksgiving in November. It was a lovely resort with activities for all of us. The guys played golf, the kids went swimming and horseback riding and made smores in the evening and the women went to the Spa and ... read more
Tamarahudson - Nov 29th, 2011

The Tamaya is one of the most awe inspiring hotels we have stayed in. Located in the foothills of the Sandia mountains on the Santa Ana reservation and at the edge of the Rio Grande , the location could not be more spectacular. It has the peaceful ... read more
Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort & Spa reviews
Half Moon Rose Hall Reviews
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Franklyn D. Resort & Spa Reviews
AnnetteMac - Jun 25th, 2013

Just returned from FDR Resort in Runaway Bay. This was my 4th year and my new husband's 2nd visit to FDR Resort in Runaway Bay, Jamaica. Is this a fancy resort place...absolutely not! It's just comfortable and home and most important, very clean! ... read more
jill67will@yahoo.com - Apr 1st, 2013

Franklyn D. Resort is an older property of very large, but slightly shabby rooms. I hesitate to write shabby in fear it will turn some people off, because the shabbiness gave the resort a cozy and quaint feel. We booked a one bedroom, but were ... read more
Franklyn D. Resort & Spa reviews
The Ritz-Carlton, Naples Reviews
toodycat - Oct 6th, 2011

We were blown away by how family friendly this beautiful, beachfront resort is. We are only a family of three, but we saw kids of all ages enjoying this resort which features a nature program about local wildlife, two beautiful swimming pools with ... read more
The Ritz-Carlton, Naples reviews
Smugglers' Notch Reviews
4EqltyMom - Aug 25th, 2011

I read about Smuggler's Notch extensively online before booking our vacation. We had 3 14yo boys we were traveling with, so it was really important they stay occupied and engaged. All of the reviews and information I read claimed Smuggs to be the #1 ... read more
preisig - Nov 4th, 2009

This is our 2nd summer taking a vacation at Smuggs. We love the fact that the kids camp is included in the price. Our kids loved the camp and we parents loved having time to ourselves to explore the area. The pools are amazing. After camp we ... read more
Smugglers' Notch reviews
Hotel del Coronado Reviews
So Cal Mom - Nov 26th, 2012

To get in a festive holiday mood, we take an annual trip down to Coronado Island. It's a magical time of year next to the Pacific Ocean. Our kid's smile while walking into the historic Hotel del Coronado's lobby admiring the tallest Christmas tree ... read more
dab0709 - Sep 18th, 2011

For the price we paid for our suite, we were grossly disappointed. Due to a mechanical issue with the elevator, we changed rooms after the first night. The second room wasn't much better. The rooms are in need of being updated. Everything about the ... read more
Hotel del Coronado reviews


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