THERE WAS A TIME when taking the little ones in tow for a holiday meant looking for family-friendly hotels or resorts where the idea of screaming kids is not a complete anathema.
But if you are a luxury traveller who is used to first-class amenities, those days are a thing of the past, especially given that an increasing number of hospitality players are turning their attention to jet-setting parents and their equally well-travelled tots.
Over at The Berkeley Hotel in London, beyond the usual organic baby amenities, personalised welcome treats, bathrobes and bed linen, the hotel goes the extra mile with game consoles, fully-trained first aider and doctor on call, and even dedicated family hours at the swimming pool.
“Children encourage hoteliers to think outside the box. When parents know that their children are well entertained, they are then able to relax a little more,” explains The Berkeley’s general manager Knut Wylde. “Luxury travel should be about creating a bespoke experience, taking the time to be aware of your guests’ desires and going above and beyond so as to exceed them.”
To that end, the hotel has even entered into a partnership with renowned children’s adventure planners, Sharky & George, who are the go-to guys for A-list parents looking for creative and imaginative ways to keep their children entertained. Together, they have created a catalogue of specially designed experiences — from a filmmaking afternoon, to treasure hunts in the British Museum — guaranteed to inspire and delight the mini-VIPs.
Harnessing a child’s sense of adventure is likewise key at Hong Kong’s grande dame of hotels, The Peninsula, where young guests (and their parents) can choose to take part in a training session with one of the Shaolin masters at Tai O’s Shaolin Wushu Culture Centre or enter the hotel’s kitchen to embark on a Candy Wonderland-themed baking class.
“It is passé to hold a belief of being mutually exclusive, the concept of luxury and family-friendly. They can certainly co-exist and reconcile. The Peninsula Hong Kong is proof that we can combine these two together,” says a spokesperson.
Education is likewise a running theme when it comes to activities. The St. Regis Family Tradition programme in China for example includes a Junior Reading Journey where children staying with their parents will receive a booklist in their guestrooms and can borrow the listed books through their St. Regis Butler Service.
The 2017 list is curated in partnership with publishing house Guomai Press and includes newly added illustrated books for children aged between two to five by authors such as Hans Christian Andersen Award nominee Xiong Liang, and award-winning American artist Wanda Gag.
“Today, families recognise the importance of extracurricular education more than ever before, and increasingly, parents are regarding travel as an opportunity to help expand their children’s horizons,” reveals Yeoh Fay Linn, Senior Director of Brand Management and Marketing, St. Regis and The Ritz-Carlton and EDITION Hotels, Asia Pacific, Marriott International.
“Since its launch, the St. Regis Children’s Booklist has been well received by guests, with more than 80 per cent of the families staying at St. Regis hotels in Greater China eager to take advantage of this expertly tailored offering.”
Luxury family travel is a trend and even high-end travel agencies are jumping on the bandwagon. Just ask travel consultant Victoria Hogg from Scott Dunn. “At Scott Dunn, we believe that a family holiday shouldn’t mean that parents have to miss out on staying at a luxury hotel but planning a family holiday takes time and there is a lot of research that goes into these holidays, which is where we come in,” she concludes.
“All of Scott Dunn’s holidays are bespoke tailor-made itineraries created around each individual family’s needs and requirements. After all, everyone knows that family holidays aren’t always stress-free. Keeping children entertained can be hard work and who wants to work on holiday?”