Sure, free drinks and complimentary Wi-Fi rank high on the lists of most desirable hotel perks among travelers, but when it comes to visiting with kids in tow, which hotel amenities are most revered by families? From teddy bear teas to kid concierges, consider these specialized and streamlined services, designed to earn family loyalties, along with kid-friendly clout.
Written by Jackie Perrin
Teen and Kid Concierges
For younger children, the Boston Marriott Long Wharf's Kids Concierge provides one-on-one lemonade consultations, along with custom maps and family-friendly itineraries for a day of exploring. LEGOLAND Hotel California presents its own staff of six "Junior Concierges," ages 8 to 12, who, on one weekend each year, provide local tips and insider theme park information.
Turndown Services and Sweet Deliveries
Want to take your stay to the next delicious level? Order up a "house call" by the Hot Chocolate Doc or the Ice Cream Man at The Four Seasons Hotel Chicago; you'll also find an Ice Cream Man (and a Top Secret Ice Cream Club, open on Fridays and Saturdays) at the The Four Seasons Hotel Boston. At The Ritz-Carlton Chicago, A Four Seasons Hotel and Four Seasons Hotel New York, The Candy Man delivers chocolate bars, gummy bears and more, via a traveling candy cart.
Meanwhile, at the upscale Four Seasons Hotel Boston, family visitors can enjoy some old-fashioned fun when they check out kid-friendly indoor and outdoor "Play Packs" containing entertaining activities like snowman-making kits, soccer balls, sidewalk chalk, jump ropes, yo-yos and Frisbees. At Fairmont Copley Plaza, kids who pine for their pooches while on vacation can sign up to walk Catie Copley, the hotel's canine ambassador. For those desiring less hands-on effort, the "Guppy Love" program at Kimpton hotels throughout the U.S. invites guests to borrow a goldfish for the night -- no walking, feeding or clean-up required.
Special Kids' Activities
If you're looking to keep the kids occupied for an extended period of time, resort kids' clubs can provide worry-free entertainment along with value. Luxury leader Four Seasons Resorts offers complimentary care and all-day programming for children through its Kids for All Seasons Program, while a number of independent properties join in on the free-flowing, free-of-charge fun. Among the front runners are Mountain View Grand Resort and Spa (ages 4 to 12), Naples Beach Hotel and Golf Club (ages 5 to 12), The Sagamore (ages 4 to 12; seasonal) and Winnetu Oceanside Resort (ages 3 to 12; seasonal).
Trump Hotels spoil young visitors with a stylish "Trump Kids" bag of goodies like a T-shirt, crayons, a coloring book and a stuffed animal. Young "apprentices" even receive their own personalized Trump Kids "Biz" cards. At Ritz-Carlton properties, "Very Important Kids" are presented with directions for a prize-bearing scavenger hunt and the opportunity to "check-in" at a special pint-sized desk. Fairmont properties in North America dote on babies and toddlers with bubble bath, lotion, shampoo and a sweet stuffed animal.
And teens aren't left out at Loews -- upon check-in at many locations, 'tween and teen guests receive cards for downloadable music singles.
Free and Instant Food
Looking for something a bit more adventurous? Check into the Four Seasons Hotel Boston, where on Saturday nights, kids are invited to join staff in a free "Raid the Fridge" late-night, snack-finding mission.
If you're planning an extended stay, you might appreciate the complimentary grocery-shopping and provisioning services offered by a number of chains, which feature accommodations with cooking facilities, like Residence Inn and Homewood Suites. In the luxury category, Trump hotels feature a personal "Attache" who will shop and stock your kitchen for you. Though standard rooms lack cooking facilities, the Walt Disney World Swan and Walt Disney World Dolphin resorts feature a novel service called "Personal Pantry," delivering value-priced beverages and snacks directly to your in-room refrigerator.
Be sure to inquire in advance about travel fees, minimum bookings, and sitter and agency qualifications. Offering services in the Orlando area, Tampa, Vero Beach and California, Kids Nite Out is a well-established and often recommended provider of in-room sitting services. For those visiting Disneyland, Fullerton Child Care Agency is a reliable option.
Rocking Chairs and Rooms for Baby
Through a "Baby Attache" program, the Trump Collection's seven luxury hotels set parents minds at ease by stocking their room in advance with everything they need for the baby, from a crib, diapers and a baby monitor to a rocking chair and a stylish Trump logo bib. Four Seasons properties provide star treatment to their youngest guests, too, with comfortably outfitted cribs and a range of baby care essentials, from shampoo and baby wipes to step stools, monitors and baby bathtubs. Upon request, some locations can even furnish a toddler bed.