A generation ago, parents travelling with children might have reluctantly stayed at all-inclusive resorts with kids’ clubs or—more often than not—needed a vacation after their vacation. Fortunately, family travel is evolving into an experience that’s rewarding for everyone involved.
“We don’t believe in kids’ clubs,” says Joss Kent, founder of the safari company &Beyond and a father of three. “Children should experience what their parents are experiencing.” Most &Beyond properties include location-specific programming called WildChild. At its Vira Vira lodge, situated on an organic farm in the Chilean Lake District, teens learn to be conservationists and rangers in training. That includes visiting the local Mapuche people to learn traditional cooking and music.
Immersive journeys to remote locales can be transportive for kids and parents alike and well worth the schlep. From its cliff-top location in Costa Rica’s Arenal rainforest, Nayara Tented Camp appears to float above the canopy. Its luxuriously appointed tents can accommodate large families and are equipped with their own hot-spring pools and boasts of thoughtful touches like mini robes and slippers for the little ones. Nayara does not market its custom excursions for kids, but many are, including nighttime frog scouting with in-house naturalists and zip-lining. At Cap Karoso, which opens this winter on the Indonesian island of Sumba, children can learn about the stars using the resort’s Celestron telescopes. In India, resorts like Evolve Back and The LaLiT Resort & Spa Bekal are helming the immersive travel experiences with something not just for kids and adults, but something for everyone.
Airstream resorts, where guests stay in upscale trailers, have massive kid appeal thanks to their novelty, while adults appreciate their self-contained nature (no one to hear the tantrums!) and modern decor. Caravan Outpost in Ojai, California, and El Cosmico in Marfa, Texas, were pioneers of the trend. Now a new crop of stylish properties offering activities like roasting marshmallows around a communal campfire and classes in concocting herbal medicine is popping up in surreal desert landscapes in Saudi Arabia at Caravan AlUla and at AutoCamp in Joshua Tree.
A less adventurous but equally enriching option: accommodations that lean into the arts. At Wanås, a boutique hotel located on a sweeping estate with a 16th-century castle and sculpture park in southern Sweden, children can wander along paths in the park that lead to artworks such as Jenny Holzer’s Wanås Wall, an 18th-century stone wall carved with her truisms (like “All Things Are Delicately Interconnected”). Art-world insiders love the Hotel Castell near St. Moritz in Switzerland, which offers an art-making kids’ room, an ice rink, a supervised dining table, and dozens of incredible contemporary sculptures inside and outside the establishment, including a James Turrell Skyspace.
This piece originally appeared in Harper's Bazaar US.