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The Best New Family Destinations in 2018

Jan. 11, 2018
5 min read
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Break free from your family-vacation rut and try one of these new resorts, ships and theme parks in 2018. Here’s a sneak peek of what’s on our spring-break, summer-vacation and fall-escape short list.

Toy Story Land, Disney's Hollywood Studios, Florida

Opening this summer at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Bay Lake, Florida, Toy Story Land builds on the crazy popularity of the Toy Story Midway Mania! ride with two more attractions from Andy’s house: the Slinky Dog Dash coaster and a rocketship ride called Alien Swirling Saucers (if you’re lucky, you might get chosen by the claw!).

If you stay at the Walt Disney World Swan or the Walt Disney World Dolphin (both Starwood properties), you get most of Disney's on-property perks (including extended park hours and free shuttles to all the parks) while still getting the option to pay with Starwood Preferred Guest points (rates start at 16,000 Starpoints or 6,000 Starpoints plus $110).

Artist rendering of Toy Story Land. Courtesy Disney Parks
Artist rendering of Toy Story Land. Courtesy of Disney Parks.

Westin Grand Cayman Seven Mile Beach Resort

With a just-completed top-to-bottom $50 million renovation, this resort is ready to host your next family getaway with newly designed guest rooms, a gorgeous location right on the sand (swim with stingrays!), the largest freshwater pool on the island and a great club for littles ages 4 to 12. (Pro tip: Take advantage of the night camp from 6:00pm to 9:00pm and schedule a date night.)

Rates start at 16,000 SPG points per night, and cash prices vary from $408 to $807. Since our valuation for SPG Starpoints is 2.7 cents per point, at a $807 nightly rate, points are a fantastic deal (5 cpp). Even at $408, Starpoints are only slightly below our valuations (2.55 cpp). Award availability is hit or miss, but there are still open 2018 dates.

Symphony of the Seas

This April, Royal Caribbean debuts a new mega-ship, Symphony of the Seas, making initial voyages in Europe and then moving to Miami in November to sail the Caribbean. Highlights of the cruise ship, which will be the largest in the world when it launches, include massive, two-floor family suites, where kids can ride a slide down from their bedroom to the living room; a 10-story water slide; onboard ice skating; and glow-in-the-dark laser tag.

On cruise lengths over five days, use the American Express Platinum and get $100 to $300 shipboard credit and a premium bottle of wine or champagne. Make sure to pore over all the ways to leverage points and miles on a cruise before you book, though.

Symphony of the Seas
Image courtesy of Symphony of the Seas.

Norwegian Bliss

Norwegian Cruise Lines is also launching a great new family ship, Norwegian Bliss, in May, with Alaska and Miami as home ports. Bliss will feature a huge electric-car racetrack, a waterslide where kids (and their grown-ups) can race side by side and a huge viewing deck with 180-degree opportunities to ogle the scenery.

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On Norwegian, your American Express Platinum gets you $100 to $300 shipboard credit and a free dinner for two on trips of five nights or longer.

Beaches Turks and Caicos

Recently re-opened after a post-hurricane Irma renovation, Beaches Turks and Caicos (the nicest Beaches outpost, IMHO), situated on the loveliest stretch of Grace Bay, has introduced a bunch of new dining options (food trucks!) to its already awesome all-inclusive lineup of water parks, free scuba diving and all-ages kids club. Plus, their partnership with Sesame Street means that you — I mean the kids — can hang with their forever idols Grover and Big Bird.

Check Beaches.com for seasonal promotions and use your Citi Prestige card to get your fourth night free.

Pool and slides at Beaches in Turks and Caicos. Courtesy Beaches
Image courtesy of Beaches.

Solaz, Los Cabos, Mexico

Currently slated to open March 31, Solaz is a high-design, 120-room, beachfront Luxury Collection SPG resort that also happens to have a great kids club with daily programming. Sign up for the SPG Kids Pass, which offers kids 12 and under all-inclusive dining with perfect-for-them menu options. Contact the concierge to arrange in-room babysitting on request.

Awards for Solaz are 20,000 SPG points per night, cash-and-points rates are 10,000 points plus $180, and nightly cash rates vary from $397 to $560. At $560, it's a good deal to pay with points (2.8 cpp) or cash and points (3.8 cpp), while at $397 you should pay cash (1.9 cpp). At $397, points and cash are a little below average, but most nights should make this a great choice, and there's currently tons of availability.

Julian Kheel contributed to this story.

Featured image by Nelson Jacome

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Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
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TPG featured card

Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

2 - 10X points
10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day

Intro offer

75,000 bonus miles
Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

Annual Fee

$395

Recommended Credit

740-850
Excellent
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023
Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

    75,000 bonus miles
  • Annual Fee

    $395
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023