Traveling with a toddler can be both a pleasure and a pain (c’mon, admit it — tantrums, nap schedules, spills and messes resulting in multiple clothing changes aren”t any fun). Luckily, some resorts make it easier to travel with a toddler, offering kids” programs, special in-room amenities, and even personal nannies. These are our favorite resorts to make your dream of a stress-free toddler vacation a reality.
The beautiful island of Martha's Vineyard boasts the family-friendly Winnetu Oceanside Resort. A complimentary children's program is offered to kids as young as 3 years old, 9 a.m. to noon, and the program employs one counselor for every five children. Counselors take kids to the beach, working farms or the pond in search of turtles. Katama Farm Institute hosts a day of hayrides, animal meet-and-greets and farm fun for the kids. Fun activities are also offered daily onsite at Winnetu, such as tie-dye painting and scavenger hunts.
A Parent/Toddler Activity program is offered during the summer for infants and pre-schoolers. The free club gives parents and kids access to the play room, chock-full of toys and games for you to enjoy together. Make sure to sign up at the front desk for this program. A baby pool is onsite and dive-in movies are provided. Monday through Friday mornings between 8 and 8:30 a.m., toddlers can also participate in a Pee-Wee Tennis Clinic.
At the Tyler Place Family Resort, there are -- count them -- 10 programs for children from 2 and a half years old and up, and additional morning and full-time childcare services for infants to younger toddlers. Groups are split by ages of no more than two years difference, negating the discomfort of a 3-year-old trying to play amid 10-year-olds. Toddlers can participate in programs with 2 and a half, 3, 4, or 5 year olds. The small groups also allow for a more personalized experience.
Various play centers overflow with kids' toys, books, games and play equipment. Parents' Helpers are available for infants and toddlers, in one-to-one and two-to-one ratios, throughout the summer. Individual, personalized attention guarantees consistency with nap times, feeding schedules, and down time.
With kids' programs that start kids at only 4 months old (and a policy that allows kids under age 4 to stay free), the Club Med Sandpiper Bay is a winner for families with small children. Petit Club Med operates for kids between 2 and 3 years old, providing outdoor walks, stimulating play and creative activities. Outside, kids can play in an onsite water park or playground. Zumbatomic lessons are provided for kids ages 4 and up. Mini Club talent shows are often put on and an arts studio is open all day. A toddler club room features toys, mats and art tables.
Naps and quiet time are included in the program, too. Afternoon snacks and full, balanced lunches are provided, as well. After feeding the kids, parents can drop them off at the evening program starting at 6 p.m. and go have themselves a romantic dinner. Late-night childcare is also provided for kids at the Pyjamas Club.
Just east of Ocho Rios, Beaches Ocho Rios Resort & Golf Club offers families a camp for toddlers ages 3 to 5. Certified Nannies run this camp, open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., offering supervised games, pool time, shell collecting, facepainting, treasure hunts and costume parties. Children also watch magic and puppet shows. The only requirement is that kids be potty-trained.
Themed activities are also put on by the characters of Sesame Street. Kids get to be tucked in by Abby Cadabby, listen to stories by Elmo, eat cookies with Cookie Monster or dance with Zoe. Character breakfasts, parades and stage shows entertain children in the evenings.
Yet another toddler-friendly resort in Vermont has made our list. Smugglers' Notch's TREASURES Child Care Center caters to young children from 6 weeks to 3 years old. Located slopeside in the Resort Village (so you can check in on your little ones throughout the day if you please), the Center is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. with lunches and snacks included in the rate. Kids are split into three groups by age: the Fireflies group is for ages 6 weeks to 16 months, the Little Dippers group is for ages 17 months to 2 and a half years, and the Little Rascals and Little Rascals on Snow group is for ages 2 and a half to 3 years.
The cost for a full day at TREASURES is $85. Half-day care is available between 9:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. only, and is $60 per child. Hourly care is provided between 8:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. only. The cost is $20 per hour for up to four hours.
Escape to Atlantis, Paradise Island Resort in the Bahamas for a few days with the family, where everyone in your family -- toddlers included -- will have an abundance of fun things to do. Programs include Sea Squirts, in which those ages 3 through 6 can feed the onsite marine animals and learn more about them; Atlantis Pals, in which toddlers are invited to create their very own stuffed animal from start to finish; and Atlantis Theatre, where toddlers can watch movies and snack on yummy treats (located in the Convention Center Rotunda).
Melia Vacation Club Puerto Vallarta is a hot spot for families traveling with toddlers. Kids ages 5 to 11 can kick back and relax in the Bam Bam Club and playroom, which features arcade games and the ultra-popular Wii console. Other activities include water balloon fights, arts and crafts, pirate treasure hunts and meet and greets with the one-and-only Flintstones characters!
This all-inclusive resort also offers babysitting services for little ones ages 4 months to 4 years. The entire staff is certified and even has Red Cross First-Aid training.
Note: Private babysitting services with the same certified staff are available for a fee if you're looking for a day or night to yourself.
The Ritz-Carlton Cancun features a plethora of activities for toddlers and kids ages 4 through 12 to engage in during their stay, otherwise known as Ritz Kids. They are invited to participate in activities based on the four pillars of the program, inspired by Jean-Michel Cousteau -- water, land, environmental responsibility and culture. Such activities include traditional Mexican games and the baby turtle release, in which kids can help escort newborn turtles to their new home -- the ocean. A playground is located onsite, too. All-day camp is held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and includes lunch ($68 per child). Half-day camp is held from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., or 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. ($47 per child and does not include lunch). Kids can also attend the camp by the hour and see how they like it, which is $16 per child.
Families traveling with infants are encouraged to book a stay in one of the Itzy Bitzy Baby Rooms. Each of these rooms features all of the baby essentials, including a crib, a changing table, a telephone set to light up instead of ring, and a "shh, baby sleeping" sign to be hung on the door.
Great childcare can also be found at The Breakers Palm Beach. At this resort, a children's camp caters to toddlers ages 3 to 5 (that are fully potty-trained). Camp sessions are held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. or 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., including lunch. Kids can also attend the camp at night from 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., including dinner.
Activities include scavenger hunts, treasure hunts, nature walks, and pool time. Kids can enjoy kicking the ball around in a game of soccer, or dribbling the basketball in a game of basketball.
It is recommended (and expected) that parents send their little ones off with a change of clothes, sneakers and a bathing suit in tow. Don't forget a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen, as well!