Kids Today are Lucky! This weekend, I spent time with my niece Aubrey, the lucky kid who got to visit Paris & London with me a few years ago. She was telling me of her spring break trip to Fort Lauderdale with her dad, her upcoming school trip to Virginia, a family wedding in Boston all before her summer camp is set to begin. I was a bit jealous of all of her travels and then joked with my sister about how we either played on the sidewalk in the summer with chalk or memories of my parents putting us on the Greyhound bus to visit my uncle down the shore (i.e. – South Jersey shore). My sister and I were maybe 9 and 12 and traveling alone on the bus to Atlantic City in the early 80’s (back when you could do stuff like that to kids raised without seatbelts).
My family went on two vacations that I can remember as a child – the 1983 Disney World visit when Epcot first opened and a beach vacation in Wildwood that my sister and I did with my dad when mom was working. That’s it – mom was afraid of water, dad was afraid to fly and my Uncle Bill lived near Ocean City, NJ so the annual bus trip (until I could drive us) was it. We never did road trips because my dad drove a truck for a living so the last thing he wanted to do was drive on vacation. Today, my nieces are very fortunate as are many kids today to be able to travel so much more than we did as kids (or at least my family and friends did).
So now that I’m planning travel with my Arden Road Travel site, I’ve been meeting many reps of luxury properties around the world and learning so much. Now I feel that to fully enjoy the offerings, I might need to bring a few kids with me (my nieces were definitely game to do research and sad when I asked about their piggy bank balances) or join your family as Aunt Sue. My nieces are now working on my sister (who might be a bit annoyed that I introduced my nieces to these glamourous travel spots) and hopefully I get to experience the properties first hand. But for now, I can only share them with you and maybe you’ll be my client to go enjoy the family luxury and report back.
Luxury Family Vacations #1 – Glamping in Montana at Paws Up!
My sister said the only way to get her to sleep in a tent was glamping at the Resort at Paws Up! Let’s be real, these are not the little tents you pitch in the woods or in Botswana, there are over the top luxury tents and villas in Montana (on par with my Elephant Camp tent). I’ve always wanted to go to Montana and with or without the kids, this is the place to get initiated in the West. Saddle up with a horse ride, learn to fly fish or stay behind at the spa camp for a body treatment, it’s all very custom and luxurious. Pick a glamping tent option or a villa. Bring your family or invite a few friends and other families – there are many pick and choose ways to build out your own bespoke Western adventure at Paws Up. They offer the Kids a range of activities in the age appropriate discovery programs. One niece liked the rope swing at the lake and horseback riding, while the teenager thought the paintball and river rafting seemed adventurous. My sister and I were looking at spa and food/wine options (priorities of course!).
With 30 luxury tents and 28 vacation homes this is a luxury escape for a memorable vacation.
With a plethora of activities year round, there are also a range of special events such as Montana Master Chefs 2016: James Beard All-Stars (Sept 29 – Oct 2), many BBQ events, Cowgirl Spring Roundup, Knit Graffiti (a week of yarn bombing art Aug 14-20) and the Canine Classic (Sept. 25) for you and your dog to walk/run/hike to support the Human Society of Western Montana.
Virtuoso Benefits: $300 Activity Credit per room/tent, bottle of wine upon arrival and roundtrip airport transfers from Missoula Airport (MSO)
Luxury Family Vacations #2 – The Four Seasons Orlando at Disney World
If you are like me and love Disney World, then you’ve stayed at a variety of properties over the years from International Drive Orlando to Disney Resorts. It seems like a right of childhood now to go to Disney World. I’ve done Disney World in Orlando in a variety of combinations – the family trip as a child, high school graduation as a teenager with my BFFs, a grown up girls week of sun, wine and fun and also as a multi-generational visit. Over the years, I’ve found the property that most closely aligns with my inner hotel snob is the Wilderness Lodge, but now after seeing the sales presentation for the Four Seasons Orlando at Disney World, my Spidey senses tell me, it’s time to up my hotel game and go five star Four Seasons luxury to experience Disney World in a new way.
With a view of the Magic Kingdom fireworks each night and a desk of Disney cast members to assist you, it’s the best of both worlds of luxury service. Breakfast with Goofy is offered twice a week at Ravello Restaurant and they offer a kid’s camp plus movies by the pool all without a resort fee. The outdoor water park has a lazy river on five acres and is enough to make you forget there’s a world of amusement parks and entertainment off property to visit. Worst decision after the presentation was visiting their website because now I want to go to Disney, stay at the Four Seasons Orlando and watch the fireworks from the Capa Steakhouse – red meat, red wine, chocolate cake and fireworks?! Happy Place indeed.
Virtuoso Benefits: $100 spa credit, once per stay
Four Seasons Benefits: Email me your dates and I can let you know as they vary
Luxury Family Vacations #3 – The Galapagos Trip, Nature in Action
When my friend and I were chatting about family vacations, she remarked “I feel like every upper middle class family must take a Galapagos vacation or we’ve failed our kids”. I laughed and said that’s a bit crazy until I started seeing all of the new family offerings from National Geographic in partnership with G Adventures in my email and brochures in the mail. The Galapagos trips are now being marketed to families who want more –to go beyond the zoo experience, beyond swimming with the dolphins at Atlantis Bahamas and becoming more immersive to do a land and sea adventure with the kids. The Galapagos offers a plethora of active vacation options as well as easy to charter private boats (and yachts) for a family or a group gathering of a few families or a multi-generation trip with the grandparents. The Galapagos are still on my list of places to go because as a solo traveler there is the much hated single supplement on the cruises I’m interested in. But the more research I do into the combo land and sea options, the more I’m excited to do a photography tour or active vacation with a side of sea viewing.
Most trips to the Galapagos start at $5k per person, not including airfare so this is definitely a luxury excursion for a select few at this time. G Adventures starts at $1,999 pp ($1,799 per child minimum age of 6 y.o.) There are many benefits that I have access to when planning a trip to the Galapagos, so contact me for more information.
So am I jealous of the kids today? Somedays, I think yes, other days, I consider myself lucky to have had the backyard pool and playing freedom with the neighborhood kids without the distraction of the internet (we would eventually get Atari to compete with the pavement hopscotch).
What’s your favorite family vacation memory? Do you take your kids on luxury vacations or would you?