What’s New at Atlantis, Paradise Island

July 10th, 2014 by Guest Blogger No comments »

During a recent trip to Atlantis, we discovered the mega-resort had added a few new family features since our last visit, just over a year ago. Here’s the latest and greatest on Paradise Island:

Marriott Autograph Collection
Marriott International, Inc. recently announced Atlantis, Paradise Island will become part of the chain’s Autograph Collection. In a nutshell, this means members of Marriott Hotel Rewards and Ritz-Carlton Rewards can use points at Atlantis, as of October, 2014. Since Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer to Marriott and Ritz-Carlton, these points can be used at Atlantis, too. For more information, read our news story.

Cartoon Network Obstacle Course Addition
Though the Cartoon Network Obstacle Course was introduced in 2013, it’s been updated with two towers and an extra slide that serves as an easy exit route for those who aren’t up for the whole challenge. For those who are (and are 48 inches are taller), be prepared to slide, swing, and jump your way through the course, which reminds everyone of ABC’s “Wipeout.”

Paradise Music Festival
For the first time, Atlantis is introducing a three-day music festival. The event, to be held over Labor Day Weekend, will feature Rascal Flatts, The Band Perry and Dierks Bentley. Packages, which combine concert tickets and overnight accommodations, are available.

Junior Ultimate Trainer for a Day
Launched in November, 2013, this program caters to children, ages 6 to 10, who are curious about marine life. The four-hour offering, available for an additional fee, includes a behind-the-scenes tour of the resort; animal care and feeding lessons; interaction with turtles, dolphins, sea lions and birds; a private lunch with marine specialists; and a special memento.

Additionally, Atlantis Resort is offering rates from just $99 per night – book by July 14!

– Amanda Geronikos

New Kid-Friendly Activities for Summer at the Chatham Bars Inn

July 9th, 2014 by Guest Blogger No comments »

Located on the white-sand beaches of Chatham, Massachusetts, the Chatham Bars Inn is a luxurious property with classic seaside charm and a quiet environment removed from the crowds. Renowned for its kids programs, the Inn offers families a perfect place for a summer getaway to Cape Cod. Parents can enjoy the waterfront pools, boat rentals, whale watching excursions or the spa, while kids take part in daily scheduled activities that will challenge and excite.

This summer, after celebrating its 100th Anniversary on June 9, 2014, the Chatham Bars Inn announced new additions to the Beach Buddies and Clam Diggers Kids’ Clubs. If your family is headed to New England this summer, be sure to stay at the Inn overnight and let the kids take part in one of these new activities that will be both fun and educational.

Beach Buddies Activities
For children ages 4 to 7, the Beach Buddies Club offers annual activities such as swim and tennis lessons, a Pirate and Princess Hunt and IN-Tents Camping. New to the program this summer is KABOOM, Eco-Chefs and a Halloween House Party.

KABOOM allows children interested in science to experiment with pop-rock volcanoes and elephant toothpaste. Kids will use the candy to create a colorful explosion or will bubble with excitement as the “toothpaste” rushes out of the bottle (good for elephants, but not humans!). Eco-Chefs teaches children how to prepare a meal using fresh ingredients straight from the Inn’s own Brewster farm. And when all the kids are done, they can come together to celebrate Halloween a little earlier with a party that includes trick-or-treating and costumes.

Clam Diggers Activities
For older children and tweens between 8 and 12 years, the Clam Diggers Club schedules pool parties and sports lessons, and hosts the annual Cardboard Boat Regatta. But this year, kids can also take part in the iScavenge — an interactive media scavenger hunt that will have everyone completing wacky tasks and challenges. Baseball with the Chatham A’s is another new activity for the sports fan in your family. Kids can meet and discuss America’s favorite pastime with the Chatham A’s baseball team. Other events include a Trip to Tween Beach — a private boat ride and trip to North Beach Island for the Clam Diggers — and the Crack the Case mystery dinner where everyone’s a suspect.

Beach Buddies and Clam Diggers Kids’ Clubs are open seasonally from late-June to mid-September for morning (9 to 11 a.m.) and afternoon (2 to 4 p.m.) sessions starting from $25 per child, per session, and evening (5:30 to 9 p.m.) sessions, which include dinner, starting from $60 per child, per session. More activities will be available to both kids’ programs throughout the summer and for more information on the Chatham Bars Inn, read our hotel review.

– Hilarey Wojtowicz

Get Lost in Lancaster: The Amazing Maize Maze at Cherry Crest Adventure Farm

July 8th, 2014 by Guest Blogger No comments »


You don’t have to wait until autumn to get lost in a corn maze; at Cherry Crest Adventure Farm in Ronks, Pa., just outside of Lancaster, the fun begins each July. The Amazing Maize Maze encompasses two and a half miles of pathways, bridges and plenty of clues. Perfect for families, it also offers three levels: Easy, Intermediate and Difficult. The Easy Path takes 20 minutes, while the Difficult Path might require an hour (or more) of time. Maze Masters are also available to assist visitors along the way.

Maze Masters are on hand to spin tunes, as well, perfect for this year’s theme, “Music Through the Ages.” The maze actually resembles a guitar – you’ll get a bird’s-eye view atop one of the bridges!

Flashlight Mazes are also offered, as is a plethora of other family-friendly fun in The Courtyard and The Barnyard, where you’ll find wagon rides, a petting zoo, giant sliding boards and more.

Cherry Crest Adventure Farm is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesdays through Fridays, and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturdays, through Nov. 8. Admission is $15 (children under 2 are free to enter the farm).

– Amanda Geronikos

5 Sailing Schools for Kids in Rhode Island

July 7th, 2014 by Guest Blogger No comments »

Sail along the coast of Rhode Island this summer with your children and let them do all the work. With sailing schools throughout the state, kids will learn to hoist sails, bear away and come about (and what those terms mean). While visiting the Ocean State this summer, sign your kids up for one of these five sailing schools.

Community Boating Center
Located in Providence, the Community Boating Center is a not-for-profit organization that offers sailing lessons for children and teens between 8 and 17. Kids will gradually progress from beginner to racer at a speed perfect for them. Four, nine-day sessions run Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., from June to mid-August. Course rates start from $510 per child. For more information visit CommunityBoating.com.

Edgewood Sailing School
Visit Cranston, Rhode Island this summer and sign the kids up for lessons at the Edgewood Sailing School. Whether your child has no experience or a lot, the school offers different courses for all levels. By the end of the session, children will have a new love for sailing and an appreciation for Narragansett Bay. Ten-day classes run Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., from June to August and rates start from $295 per child with a $25 registration fee. For more information visit EdgewoodSailing.org.

The Herreshoff Seamanship Camp
Kids can learn problem-solving and sailing skills, along with confidence on the water, at Bristol’s Herreshoff Seamanship Camp. Children between 7 and 17 can sign up for full- or half-day courses aboard a 16-foot Herreshoff sloop. Ten-day sessions run Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. (noon for half-day sessions), from June to August. Rates start from $310 per child for the half-day program and from $540 per child for the full-day program. For more information, visit Herreshoff.org.

Sail Newport
Located in Newport, Sail Newport is a not-for-profit sailing school that teaches kids and teens to really enjoy the sea sport. Kids 5 to 17 can take part in the lessons that are focused on the fun and safety of sailing. Courses run from June to August, with sessions lasting between four and 10 days (depending on age of child) and 2.5 to six hours. Rates start from $125 per child, but vary by age. For more information, visit SailNewport.org.

URI Sailing Center
Send your kids to a college this summer for sailing lessons — the University of Rhode Island Sailing Center will take them from beginner to racer in no time. Children between 10 and 16 will sail the Great Salt Pond in Wakefield and will learn how to sail, dock, steer and take care of a boat. Courses run for four weeks, from May to August and offer various three-hour time slots each day for beginner, youth and intermediate level sailors. Rates start from $350 per child. For more information, visit web.uri.edu/campusrec/sailing/.

– Hilarey Wojtowicz

5 Places for Kids to Get Pampered this Summer

July 6th, 2014 by Guest Blogger No comments »

A relaxing getaway with the family could be even more rejuvenating with a trip to the resort or hotel spa! Stay at one of these five hotels and take advantage of the spa services designed specifically for kids. And while enjoying the sweet treatments, take advantage of the sweet deals they are offering, too!

1. The James Chicago
The James Chicago is already known for its renowned Lil’ James Program, which offers kids special amenities and activities, but the hotel in the center of the Windy City has new spa treatments for children. The Spa by ASHA at the James Chicago is offering two new KidSpa treatments, including Pure-Fume Aroma where children can select scents perfect for a signature smell all their own ($45) and a Banana Split Facial with banana, strawberry, chocolate and vanilla flavors infused in the mask ($85).

Allow your child to enjoy one of these treatments and more with The Lil’ James Family Adventurer Package, too.

2. Grand Wailea – A Waldorf Astoria Resort
The resort’s children’s program, Camp Grande, helps forge life-long friendships between little ones and its no wonder because kids between 6 and 12 can take part in cool activities, like spa treatments together. The Grand Wailea – A Waldorf Astoria Resort in Maui offers the Keiki (Kids) Spa Packages, with everything from chocolate coconut massages ($98) to chocolate-coconut manicures and pedicures ($38).

Plus, with a $100 resort credit to use at the spa with the Best of Waldorf Astoria Package, families will be able to relax and rejuvenate all together.

3. Nemacolin Woodlands Resort
Set amidst Pennsylvania’s Laurel Highlands, the Nemacolin Woodlands Resort allows families to get close to nature – and to experience it in new ways, too. The Grove, Kidz Spa offers kids and teens between 5 and 15 a chance to experience services with natural ingredients for rejuvenating the body and mind. Enjoy Sweet Streams mini-services for kids 5 to 8, or Waterfall Wonders for those between 10 and 15. From facials ($45 to $90) to reflexology massages ($45) kids will be pampered and will learn to love the skin they’re in.

And save while spending at the spa with a three-, four- or five-night package at the resort that offers up to $1,500 in resort credit during your vacation!

4. Cape Codder Resort and Spa
With activities for parents and kids galore in Hyannis, it’s no wonder the Cape Codder Resort and Spa also offers kids spa services that are sweet. Children can enjoy the Kids’ Corner, with services for those under 18 years of age, including a Strawberry or Chocolate Ice Cream Manicure ($23) or a Chocolate Milkshake Pedicure ($45). Plus, parents and children can enjoy bonding during a Parent & Child Massage ($190).

And with the Family Vacation Package, you’ll be able to save on meals for the whole family while enjoying the spa and all the activities at the resort.

5. Wintergreen Resort
The Wintergreen Resort in Wintergreen, Va., knows what your teen wants on vacation and spa treatments are just the start. After ziplining and tubing, teens can relax with spa services just for them. Enjoy a facial ($80), a back and foot massage ($65) or a Footloose Pedicure ($35). And if you want to get close to your teen, enjoy a Diva Day with Mom package with two massages and two pedicures ($225).

And with a deal for up to two free nights at the resort this summer, the money you save can be spent at the spa!

For more information on resorts with spa treatments for children, read about the 11 Best Kids’ Spa Resorts. And for more family-friendly savings, see all of our deals.

– Hilarey Wojtowicz

Tips for Planning Multigenerational Trips

July 5th, 2014 by Guest Blogger No comments »

It’s a big enough challenge to plan a vacation for your own family of four. When your group also includes Grandma, Uncle Joe and Joe Jr., it’s even harder to please everyone. But multi- or intergenerational travel is a growing trend, and a great way for families who live far apart to come together for quality time.

When you’re planning a trip for your extended family, your main considerations should be: Will there be a variety of activities to please everyone? Are there opportunities for everyone to spend time all together? Will there be someone on staff to help iron out details?

Here are some tips I’ve learned along the way, having planned both short getaways with my parents, and large family reunions for 50-plus people.

Find a mutually convenient location. Search online for a destination within driving distance of the majority of your group. If some family members have to fly, think about places near major airports with convenient car rental services.

Consider lodging options. For relatives who want to stick together, look at renting a multi-bedroom condo. Having a full kitchen will allow you save money by cooking your own meals. On a cruise, you can book travel for the entire group through a travel agent or directly with the cruise line, and arrange for everyone to stay on the same deck.

Pick a resort or cruise that offers activities for all age groups. This option saves time and money, especially because the entertainment is usually included in the price. If you choose to cruise, the larger ships offer greater choices. For adults, there are typically spas, casinos, shows, and classes, which can be enjoyed alone while the children participate in supervised, age-appropriate programs including crafts, games, talent shows, scavenger hunts, themed parties, and sports competitions.

Ask for help from the staff. Resorts and cruises which specifically cater to family groups will often assign a dedicated staffer to help organize private group meals, on-site activities and excursions. When I helped plan a family reunion based at Walt Disney World in Orlando, I utilized the services of its group travel department. A dedicated “cast member” helped facilitate package pricing, including accommodations and theme park tickets.

Pre-payment is optimal. You want to be able to relax, and not quibble each time the check comes at the end of a meal. All-inclusive resorts and cruises come with the convenience of having all your costs paid upfront. Always ask for a group discount. In some cases, the group’s travel planner is entitled to perks. For example, if you book a block of 20 rooms, your room may be free!

– Traci L. Suppa

Traci L. Suppa drags her small-town family to see a quirky array of the world’s largest, longest, or tallest things, and blogs about it at Go BIG or Go Home.