Archive for the ‘Family-Friendly Destinations’ category

7 Christmas Traditions Around the World

December 20th, 2014

The Tio de Nadal, or Christmas Log, is a Spanish holiday traditionHere in the United States, holidays like Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and Christmas are celebrated through traditions like decorating trees with ornaments, lighting candles and wearing special clothing. However, nations around the world have their own rituals for holidays. From hitting hollow logs with sticks, to decorating trees with spider webs, to ordering fried chicken months in advance for a festive feast, here are seven holiday traditions for your family to try this season.

Mexico
Every year on Dec. 23, Oaxaca, Mexico, celebrates the holiday season with vegetables. But we’re not talking about any old vegetables. Radishes are grown year-round in preparation for this event, which displays them after they are carved and decorated to look like people and events from Mexican folklore. The annual event runs through Christmas Day.

Ukraine
According to the Ukrainian legend, a widow and her children lived in a small house together and witnessed a tree growing outside their door. At Christmas time, the children excitedly wanted to decorate the tree, but due to the family’s lack of money, could not do so. On Christmas Eve night, the spiders that lived in the house spun webs all over the tree as a way to decorate it for the deserving family. On Christmas morning, the family saw the beautiful webs on the tree, and as the sunlight cascaded over them, each one turned into silver and gold. From that day forward, the family never lived in poverty again. Nowadays, Ukrainians decorate trees with spider webs as a reminder to be thankful, as well as a way to wish fortune and good luck for the New Year.

Japan
Although Christmas is not a national holiday in Japan, families plan for their December feast months in advance anyway – all because of a marketing campaign from 1974. Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) started the “Kurisumasu ni wa kentakkii!” or the “Kentucky for Christmas!” campaign in Japan as a way to promote the brand’s food, which was seen as a good alternative to turkey, a meat that is extremely difficult to find in Japan. Due to the high demand of KFC for Christmas dinner, families often place orders months in advance.

Holland
For children in Holland, Christmas traditions start at the beginning of December with Sinterklaas. On Dec. 5, children await the arrival of Sinterklaas, or St Nick, who comes at night, bringing small gifts and treats if the kids have been good all year. However, children don’t look under a tree the next morning, they look in their shoes. Before going to sleep, kids place their shoes near the back door or chimney, where Sinterklaas will find them and fill them with the goodies.

Italy
Santa Claus is still the big man in red in Italy, but he is joined by La Befana, the nation’s kind old woman, who delivers presents to children on Jan. 5 every year, the eve of the Epiphany, when it is believed that the three wise men arrived with gifts for the baby Jesus. La Befana is known as a gentle woman, though she has the powers of a witch, as well as a large nose and a broomstick by her side, which she uses to both travel and clean messy homes.

Spain
Christmas in Catalonia, Spain, includes a hollow log that families dress up, feed, and then hit with sticks on Dec. 8, the day marked as the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Known as the Tio de Nadal, or Christmas Log, families dress a hollow wooden log with legs, a face, and a little red hat. Kids leave food out for the log and cover it with a blanket before bed. The next morning, presents can be found under the blanket, but only after families sing traditional songs as they hit the log with sticks.

Norway
Many years ago, families in Norway believed that witches came around to houses on Christmas Eve in search for brooms in which they could ride. In preparation, families would hide every broom in their home, so that the witches could not find them and they would leave them alone. Today, many Norwegians keep up with this tradition by hiding the brooms in their home before going to sleep on Christmas Eve night.

Does your family celebrate the holidays with any special traditions? Tell us about them in the comment section below!

– Hilarey Wojtowicz

Skate and Stay in Providence, R.I.

December 19th, 2014

The Providence Biltmore Hotel in Providence, Rhode IslandWinter in New England encompasses cozy sweaters, chilly weather and nights sipping on hot cocoa with family. Make it even more special by booking the Skate and Stay Package at the Providence Biltmore Hotel in Providence, Rhode Island.

Package includes overnight accommodations in a Junior King Suite, which sleeps up to four, offers free Wi-Fi, a refrigerator and a spacious living area with a sofa; access to the skating rink at the Alex and Ani City Center, with rentals; and one $20 Starbucks gift card, perfect for grabbing hot cocoa after taking a skate on the ice. Rates start from $179 per night. Offer valid now through March 15, 2015.

The Providence Biltmore Hotel is located in the heart of downtown Providence and offers families onsite dining, spa services, a fitness center and a location that is close to many attractions. Built in 1922 by acclaimed architects, Warren and Wetmore, the same architects who designed New York City’s Grand Central Station, the Providence Biltmore Hotel is on the list of Historic Hotels of America.

The skating rink at the new Alex and Ani City Center, formerly the Providence Rink, offers public skating hours daily from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. now through March 1, 2015. Lessons, special skate nights, and holiday hours are available, too.

– Hilarey Wojtowicz

Universal CityWalk’s New Year’s Eve Movie Night

December 17th, 2014

Universal CityWalk's New Year's Eve Movie Night OutWatch a movie – or five – on New Year’s Eve this year at Universal CityWalk. The AMC Theatre at Universal Studios Hollywood is ringing in 2015, while honoring the area’s 50th Anniversary, with feature presentations of five iconic films that families will love.

Enjoy watching “Jurassic Park,” “E.T. the Extra Terrestrial,” “Back to the Future,” “Dracula,” and “Frankenstein.” All films are classic Universal Studios Hollywood movies.

In addition to the films, families will dine on all-you-can-eat popcorn and a New Year’s Eve goodie bag filled with treats. One complimentary soda per person is also included.

Tickets are $25 for adults and $15 for children. The Universal CityWalk’s New Year’s Eve Movie Night event begins at 9 p.m. on Dec. 31, 2014. A live DJ countdown party will also take place before midnight.

For more information and reservations, visit the CityWalk Hollywood website.

– Hilarey Wojtowicz

A Closer Look at the Grand Palladium Kantenah Resort & Spa

December 15th, 2014

Our 12 Days of Family Travel Giveaways 2014 contest just ended and our Grand Prize was a five-night, all-inclusive getaway to the Grand Palladium Kantenah Resort & Spa in Riviera Maya, Mexico! The resort has so much for families to do, like kids’ clubs, beach and water sports and spa services. For other families who are interested in visiting the resort, which was named to our 2014 Family Vacation Critic Favorites list, here’s a closer look into the property and all of its offerings.

The entrance to the Grand Palladium Kantenah Resort & Spa
The Grand Palladium Kantenah Resort & Spa is a tropical oasis for families.

The pool at the Grand Palladium Kantenah Resort & Spa
Families can spend time together at the pool, which features easy entry and lounge chairs in the water.

The Baby Club at the Grand Palladium Kantenah Resort & Spa
The Baby Club at the resort is for children between ages 12 months and 3 years, with indoor and outdoor activities supervised by highly trained staff.

The Mini Club at the Grand Palladium Kantenah Resort & Spa
The “El Ranchito” Mini Club at the resort is for children ages 4 to 12, with activities focused on flora, fauna and the culture of the Riviera Maya.

The Black & White Junior's Club at the Grand Palladium Kantenah Resort & Spa
The Black & White Junior’s Club at the resort is for teens ages 13 to 19. Teens can enjoy video games, Ping Pong, Foosball and even a dance party twice a week.

A family dining with Raggs at the Grand Palladium Kantenah Resort & Spa
The Baby Club and Mini Club offer fun activities with the loveable characters of Raggs and families can even sign up for breakfast with their new furry friends during their stay.

The Kabah Buffet Restaurant at the Grand Palladium Kantenah Resort & Spa
Additional dining is available at nine a la carte restaurants and five buffet restaurants, including the Kabah Buffet Restaurant, pictured above.

A Junior Suite at the Grand Palladium Kantenah Resort & Spa
Junior Suites at the resort offer room for up to five guests. Families can sleep comfortably, and enjoy amenities like mini bars, coffeemakers, in-room movies, sofa beds, and more. Junior Suites are close to the beach and pool, and are ideal for families.

Have you ever stayed at the Grand Palladium Kantenah Resort & Spa? Tell us in the comments below!

– Hilarey Wojtowicz

9 Kids Ski Free Deals in Colorado

December 13th, 2014

Family skiing on mountainSki season is upon us and when it comes to family mountain getaways, Colorado is definitely at the top. Whether your kids have been hitting the slopes since they began to walk or they’ve never stood on skis before, Colorado has ski resorts that are welcoming to all ages and skill levels. Plus, majority of them let kids ski for free! Here are nine Colorado ski resorts that offer kids ski free deals.

Arapahoe Basin
Children ages 14 and under ski for free for just six more days this season at Arapahoe Basin. However, kids ages 5 and under always ski for free. Regular full-day rates start from $42 for kids ages 6 to 14, $70 for kids ages 15 to 18, and $85 for adults ages 18 and older.

Aspen/Snowmass
Book a minimum three-night stay in March or April at Aspen/Snowmass and kids ages 7 to 12 will ski and stay for free! Kids will also receive free rental equipment with the purchase of adult rentals. Book by Feb. 19, 2015, for stays between March 15 and 31, 2015. Book by March 24, 2015, for stays between April 1 and 5, 2015. Regular full-day rates start from $70 for kids ages 7 to 12, $95 for teens ages 13 to 17, and $104 for adults ages 18 and older. Children ages 6 and under always ski for free.

Copper Mountain
Stay two nights at Copper Mountain and receive your third night free, plus a third day of lessons for free. Additionally, kids ages 12 and under ski for free. Families also receive a 33-percent discount on tubing and freestyle lessons. Offer valid now through Dec. 22, 2015. Regular full-day rates start from $58 for children and $100 for adults. Children 5 and under always ski for free.

Crested Butte
Now through Dec. 18, 2014, kids ages 12 and under ski for free at Crested Butte Mountain Resort. During the rest of the season, kids ages 6 and under always ski for free. Regular full-day rates start from $57 for kids ages 7 to 12, $93 for teens ages 13 to 17, and $103 for adults ages 18 and older.

Durango Mountain Resort
Book the Kids Ski Free package at the Durango Mountain Resort and enjoy 25 percent off four nights of lodging, three days of lift tickets for two adults and free skiing for kids ages 12 and under. Offer valid now through March 2015, though blackout dates may apply. Regular full-day rates start from $43 for children ages 6 to 12, $57 for teens ages 13 to 17, and $74 for adults ages 18 and older. Children ages 5 and under always ski for free.

Loveland Ski Area
Children ages 5 and under always ski for free at Loveland Ski Area in Georgetown, Colorado, but additional packages can be purchased that also offer free season passes. The 3-Class Pass for Kids offers skiers and boarders between ages 4 and 14 three full-day lessons, rentals, lift access and lunch. With the 3-Class Pass, kids also receive a free, unrestricted season pass that is valid through the rest of the season. The 3-Class Pass starts from $321 per child. Regular full-day rates start from $28 for kids ages 6 to 14 and $63 for adults ages 15 and older.

Steamboat Springs
Kids ages 12 and under ski for free in Steamboat Springs for the same number of days as adults when adults purchase a five-or-more-day list ticket, and they also receive free rentals when adults rent equipment for five or more days. Additionally, kids ages 12 and under can receive a free season pass when an adult purchases a season pass. Regular full-day rates start from $71 for children ages 6 to 12, $98 for teens ages 13 to 17 and $119 for adults ages 18 and older. Children ages 5 and under always ski for free.

Sunlight Mountain Resort
Book the Ski, Swim, Stay package at the Sunlight Mountain Resort and kids ages 12 and under will ski for free. The package also offers free shuttle service for families who stay at select hotels. Regular full-day rates start from $45 for kids ages 6 to 12 and $60 for adults ages 13 and older. Children ages 5 and under always ski for free.

Telluride Ski Resort
Book a ski getaway to Telluride Ski Resort for the first week of February and save. Between Jan. 31 and Feb. 7, 2015, kids ages 5 to 14 ski for free, stay for free and receive free lessons. Regular full-day rates start from $52 for children ages 6 to 12 and $96 for adults ages 13 and older. Children 5 and under always ski for free.

Offers based on availability. Additional restrictions and blackout dates may apply.

– Hilarey Wojtowicz

Celebrate Christmas in Sunny Coronado

December 11th, 2014

Hotel del Coronado ice skating rinkEscape the cold winter weather and head to sunny Coronado this Christmas for holiday happenings at the Hotel del Coronado. Enjoy festive activities, special bedtime routines and brunch with the man in red himself.

Brunch With Santa
Dine with the man in red on Sunday Dec. 14 or 21, and indulge in delicious and festive foods. Families can also take photos with Santa and kids can tell him what they want to see under their tree on Christmas morning.

Elf Tuck Ins
Get a little help from Santa’s elves when tucking your little ones into bed at the Hotel del Coronado this year. The Elf Tuck Ins bedtime routine includes a special reading of “The Night Before Christmas” from Santa’s helpers before kids go to sleep.

Jingle S’mores
Hit the beach for a bonfire complete with S’mores that are extra special. Toast marshmallows and then create your sweet sandwich treat with cinnamon graham crackers and Ghiradelli mint chocolate. Families will even get holiday hats to wear during the fun!

Kidtopia
Children ages 4 to 12 will really go wild for the seasonal fun at the activity center, Kidtopia, at the Hotel del Coronado. Activities include beach Olympics, safari adventures, arts and crafts, and more. Kids also receive an adventure pack at check-in that includes a treasure map and compass, which leads them to a special surprise.

Skating by the Sea
Celebrating its 10th anniversary, the Hotel del Coronado’s outdoor ice skating rink offers oceanfront fun. In honor of the rink’s birthday, the hotel expanded the rink so that it now accommodates up to 200 skaters. Skating is $25 per person for 90 minutes on the ice.

For more information and nightly rates, read our review of the Hotel del Coronado.

– Hilarey Wojtowicz