8 of the Coolest Hotel Perks for Kids
Once upon a time, kids were afterthoughts to hotels that, instead, targeted business travelers and the grown-ups who were carrying the credit cards (or travelers checks as the case used to be). But as more and more families began traveling, hotels soon discovered that making kids happy while on a trip meant making parents happy. From providing amenities like cribs, in-room tents and tot-friendly toiletries to children’s programs in fancy kid clubs at large resorts, you can find hotels catering to you, as a parent, by offering more for your kids. A number of hotels are really upping the game. Here are eight cool features for yours, mine and ours that are blowing away the competition.
Personal Ice Cream Cart
The Four Seasons Hotel Chicago, with city view rooms ranging from around $350 to $675 per night, will spoil you rotten with a visit from its very own ice cream man. Arriving with a cart stocked with ice cream, awesome toppings and sweat treats, you can request whatever you can dream to create. The hotel also offers pizza-making classes for teens, “chillax” spa treatments and video games, board games and toys available to borrow. Of course, when the hotel is this kid-friendly, you can expect your room to be stocked with gear to make traveling with your children even easier: pint-sized bathrobes, free baby and kids’ toiletries, complimentary diapers and baby equipment, a library of videos and games, and free coloring books and crayons.
Candy Man Delivery
Not to be outdone by its Chicago rival, The Ritz-Carlton in the Windy City skips the sundaes and provides visits to your room from its very own Candy Man. Just one call and a cart full of candy will arrive to delight the kids with a selection of sweet and savory treats. During the holidays, kids even get candy canes at turndown, complete with a lovely Ritz stocking. There is also hot cocoa and a chance to decorate holiday cookies. No matter the time of year you visit, kids get spoiled the first moment they walk in the door with the hotel’s Red Wagon Warm Welcome, where kids can select a toy from a toy wagon filled with a fun selection. Deluxe city view rooms start around $230 per night but can reach nearly $500 during the busy summer months.
Be it summer or a snow-covered winter, Park Hyatt Beaver Creek beckons families to “glamp” — indoors. From the comfort of a room or suite at the slope-side resort, you can request the in-room camping experience, where a teepee, sleeping bag and even a comfy faux firepit await. While you can’t roast marshmallows at this firepit, you will receive a s’mores kit with milk chocolate, graham crackers and homemade marshmallows from room service to make ooey-gooey treats. (The resort also offers outdoor firepits and a s’mores happy hour to enjoy the real thing.) Oh yes, and the kids get a pair of cozy PJs to complete the experience. Rates during ski season can be as high as $900–$1,000 per night (so use 30k World of Hyatt points per night), but the hotel can be had for value pricing (sometimes less than $300 per night) during the warmer summer months.
Of course, you can also elect to enjoy the real deal and combine the ultimate in glamping with s’mores featured as a delectable art form at Montana’s Resort at Paws Up. The glamorous resort offers glamping tents from May through October (hotel rooms and cabin rentals are available year-round) with hardwood floors, A/C and heat, en suite baths with claw-foot bathtubs and plush beds -- yes, beds! -- with fine linens. Camping butlers prepare breakfast, keep firepits stocked, play with kids, serve up a five-course, family-style dinner and teach s’mores-loving kids how to make the perfect combination of marshmallow and chocolate. The resort takes its s’mores so seriously; it even has a "s’moreology" program and serve up gourmet options at its restaurant. The hotel's 2019 spring break package starts around $600 per person and is inclusive of accommodations, meals, nonalcoholic and alcoholic beverages and an activity credit of $500 per person per stay.
In-Room Kid Forts
Not all cool amenities are restricted to luxury resorts. Just outside Mesa Verde, away from the RV campgrounds available to visitors of the national park, is the Holiday Inn Express (from 25,000 IHG Rewards Club points per night). Most rooms at this modest-priced hotel are comfortable, but request the Family Suite and your kids will spend the night in a fort. Kids won’t need to strip the blankets off the beds to enjoy their privacy; Fort Holiday is an in-room fort with bunk beds that can sleep four kids, a library of kids’ books, a desk with crayons and a TV just for the kids. While kids enjoy their fort, mom and dad have their own TV, king-sized bed and sitting area to enjoy, especially after a long day in a car hearing, "Are we there yet?"
Record Players and Vinyl Libraries
California’s cool vibe can be found along its SoCal coastline, where Woodies topped with surfboards are a staple. At Kimpton: The Goodland (from 50,000 IHG Rewards Club points per night), just outside of Santa Barbara, kids can get into the surfer groove with surf lessons and retro tunes via in-room record players and a selection of vinyl. The record players are portable, and the hotel welcomes you to bring them with you on picnics at the beach. The boutique hotel’s love for music extends into live music events at the property, and the entire family can enjoy the music while relaxing by the pool, not to mention special events like s’mores on Monday nights and trivia nights. And, don't forget about the secret password that will score your kids a free gift at Kimpton hotels.
Kid-Sized Private Art Studios
America has not cornered the kid-friendly amenities market. Head south of the border to San Miguel de Allende and you’ll find a Rosewood Hotel keeping up with its rivals. The Central Mexico town is known for inspiring artists, and the hotel hopes you’ll find it so inspiring, you’ll take advantage of their Inspirational Art Amenity. Kids can enjoy a basic painting kit with brushes, sponges and paint, along with a kid-sized easel and bare canvas, ready for your little Picasso’s creations. Adults can have their own grown-up kit to make it a family affair. Spacious rooms, 570 square feet, can be had for around $375 per night.
Omni Hotels & Resorts’ Omni Kids Crew, at hotels across the country, welcome children to the hotel with a keepsake backpack filled with fun. Kids will find crayons, activity books, stickers, candy, games and more inside, along with milk and cookies delivered to your room during turndown -- at no additional charge. (What's better for parents than free things that make kids happy?) Omni resorts in destinations that truly cater to families often offer additional special experiences for kids, such as Omni Orlando Resort at ChampionsGate’s Elf Tuck-ins during the holidays. Besides the milk and cookies, kids get a bedtime appearance by one of Santa’s elves to read “’Twas the Night Before Christmas,” and then present your dreamy tot with a Christmas stocking filled with goodies. Rates for a deluxe room range from $149 to $289 per night, depending on season.
Hotels are really upping the ante when it comes to fun amenities for kids. The next time you make a reservation for a family getaway, inquire about what the hotel may offer to the younger set. You may be surprised to learn about some pretty neat — and free — perks.
What's the best amenity your child has ever received during a hotel stay?