These Luxe Hotels Have Incredible Activities for Children — and Parents, Too

High-end hotels are unveiling ever-more-ambitious programs aimed at pleasing their most important guests: your kids.

<p>Courtesy of Sani Resort</p> Vibing at Sani Resort in Greece.

Courtesy of Sani Resort

Vibing at Sani Resort in Greece.

The south of France doesn’t lack for stunning vacation homes. But one particular escape, a 5,400-square-foot villa with a private movie theater and a swimming pool located at the Airelles Saint-Tropez, stands apart from the rest in an intriguing way: every summer, this prime piece of Côte d’Azur real estate becomes HQ of the resort’s summer camp.

Throughout the season, Airelles hosts Lego-building challenges, cooking classes that teach aspiring bakers how to make tarte tropézienne, and age-appropriate massages and facials using products from Bonpoint, the Parisian children’s-wear brand. The villa is even served by an electric mini train that ferries kids back and forth — further proof that when it comes to keeping little ones engaged on vacation, no bell or whistle is too much for hotels of a certain caliber.

<p>Courtesy of Sani Resort</p> The gardens and kid's club at Sani Resort in Greece.

Courtesy of Sani Resort

The gardens and kid's club at Sani Resort in Greece.

“Parents are now looking to give their children more purposeful experiences,” explains Jonathan Goldsmith, of the luxury tour operator Cazenove & Loyd. Today, Goldsmith adds, the race is on to win over not just young guests but also their parents, who are often aiming to outdo last year’s trip. At Mexico’s One&Only Mandarina, that meant turning to production designer Brigitte Broch, who worked with director Baz Luhrmann on Moulin Rouge and Romeo & Juliet. With its butterfly sanctuary and play areas set amid jungle, her 42,000-square-foot kids club is an artistic achievement in its own right.

The brand’s forthcoming resort in Greece, One&Only Kéa Island, will also channel some drama with its kids’ club when it opens in the Cyclades later this year. It’s inspired by the shipwrecks that surround the island, including the Britannic, one of the Titanic’s sibling vessels. The below-the-waves concept was dreamed up by Megan Wilson of the consultancy Worldwide Kids, which has also collaborated with Soneva resorts in the Maldives and Dubai’s Atlantis, The Palm. “When kids can actually go outside and point to where a shipwreck they’ve learned about is, that brings the whole thing to life,” Wilson says.

Other high-end hotels are putting an emphasis on learning, too. The Sani Resort, in northern Greece, has a partnership with Chelsea F.C. to offer soccer coaching and, for teens who want to test their limits, outdoors-skills courses designed by the Bear Grylls Survival Academy.

Many safari camps across Africa can tailor programs to younger guests — but few can rival what they’ve got at Cottar’s 1920s Camp, in Kenya. Its Maasai Warrior School gives children a taste of wildlife tracking and traditional beading — and also teaches entomology by way of a search for the “Little Five,” a group of notable insects.

Most clever of all may be Risonare Osaka, in Japan, which has turned one of every parent’s greatest fears into a selling point: its Atelier category of family rooms actively encourages kids to draw on the walls, which can be easily wiped clean before the next budding artist checks in.

A version of this story first appeared in the May 2024 issue of Travel + Leisure under the headline "Tiny Luxuries."

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