Posts tagged Family Travel
Family Vacations: Where to take your kids ages 6-12.

This week, I'm focusing on the best locations to take your kids ages 6-12.  This age is the sweet spot.  They are old enough to take bigger and better trips while, at the same time, they still want to hang out with you.  This is a great age to start exposing kids to different cultures and ways of life.

Once children are at least 6 years old, they are ready for grander adventures.  When traveling with children of this age range, it is important to travel with a company focused on the needs of children.  If your kids aren’t having fun, you won’t have any fun.  

Abercrombie & Kent is one of the best for family travel.  Their Family Luxury Small Group Journeys are designed to let you make the most of every minute.  Created by A & K’s experts specifically for families, each journey is filled with enriching activities, child-friendly hotels and a range of exciting destinations.  For example, your family can have the adventure of a lifetime in China.  You can cruise on the Yangtze River and through the amazing Three Gorges on a three-night cruise; visit the ancient Great Wall of China, then ride a toboggan back down; see the Terra Cotta Warrior army and make your very own clay soldier; meet panda bears in person at a special sanctuary for the bears; see Shanghai from the tallest building in China.  Alternatively, your family can discover Russia: Cruise by boat to St. Petersburg, a city built on 42 islands; privately visit the collection at the State Armory in Moscow; take part in the re-creation of a traditional Russian wedding ceremony; pay a backstage visit to the Moscow Circus and watch the show from a private VIP box and attend a Faberge egg-painting class, taught by a famous St. Petersburg artist.  The more athletic family may wish to visit Australia and New Zealand.  You can journey into the Outback; snorkel and swim with clownfish, manta rays and sea turtles along the Great Barrier Reef; learn to surf at Bondi Beach, then boat through Sydney Harbor; zip line, ride a cable car and trundle by train through an Australian rainforest; take a “funyak” river safari on the Dart River; and journey to the real Middle Earth with a tour of Hobbiton.

Any child over the age of 6 loves a trip to the Galapagos Islands.  I highly recommend joining Lindblad’s National Geographic Endeavour.  These are truly expedition cruises made for children.  The expedition leaders get training from National Geographic Kids and are fantastic at teaching children about the wildlife, such as blue-footed boobies, sea turtles, giant tortoises, red frigate birds, iguanas and sea lions.Children get to learn how to drive a Zodiac craft, snorkel and hike the islands, take wildlife photography lessons and enjoy bridge visits with the captain.  If several kids are onboard, there may be an impromptu pizza and movie night.    If you have the time, you should add Machu Picchu in Peru to your trip.  You can explore the 15th Century Inca ruins and stunning views of the magnificent structures surrounded by green peaks.

Closer to home, this is a great age for your kids to experience our National Parks for the first time.  Backroads and Tauck have excellent tours for families.  Hike the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, visit a ranch with horseback riding, bike ride in the Tetons, take a whitewater rafting adventure down the Snake River, encounter grizzlies, wolves and elk as you explore the wilderness.  If you are looking for a most unique experience, nothing beats Amangiri, an ultra-luxurious resort located in a secluded canyon in the middle of the Grand Circle of National Parks and Monuments.  It offers customized outdoor adventure activities such as hiking, rock climbing, slot canyon tours, rafting, mountain biking, boating and hot air balloon flights.  It also has a 25,000 square foot Aman Spa for Mom and Dad.

Email or call me at 314-780-8845 to plan your next adventure with your kids.

FAMILY VACATIONS FOR THE ACTIVE FAMILY

When I picture my family on vacation, I often envision us relaxing on the beach with warm trade winds, clear blue water, a few magazines and young children playing in the sand for hours.  When your kids are young, there is no better or easier way to entertain them to exhaustion while also getting must needed rest and relaxation for yourself.

However, there comes a day when the beach starts to sound "boring" or "there's nothing to do at the beach."  When you get over the shock of hearing such ridiculous, whiny complaints, you start to realize that your kids have finally reached an age where they can travel more independently and would be a lot of fun to take on an adventure family vacation with exciting experiences in other parts of the World.  It doesn't matter if you take them to a neighboring state or to the other side of the World.  In fact, parents often give their children a voice in where to go and what to do on vacation.  

In response, the travel industry has made great strides in catering to the whole family.  There are now many tour companies that have developed itineraries that make the interests of both the parents and the children a priority.

I think one of the stand-out tour companies for families is Adventures by Disney.  They really know how to make kids happy, thus, make their parents happy.  They have trips you can take with your family all over the World-places you would never have considered taking your children.  There are oftentimes separate tour guides for both the adults and the children.  While you are viewing the Mona Lisa, your kids may be on a scavenger hunt in another part of the Louvre.  I can't think of a better way for the whole family to visit the Louvre and leave with everyone saying they had a great time!  Now, I strongly believe there is a sweetspot age of children who will most enjoy an Adventures by Disney trip.  I also think it is best for a small family.  It creates a better environment for all the kids on the trip to get to know each other and make lasting friendships.

Another wonderful family vacation is a biking tour either in the United States or Europe.  Backroads is a wonderful family-centered company.  You can take a biking, hiking, walking or multi-sport tour just about anywhere in the World with Backroads.  It is a great way for families to bond and truly have a trip of a lifetime to always remember.

For the truly adventurous family, nothing will compare with a trip to the Galapagos Islands with National Geographic/Lindblad Expeditions.  Your family will hike, kayak and zodiac cruise around the islands making new discoveries everyday.  Africa has also become increasingly popular with families.  Children used to be unwelcome at safari camps.  Increasingly, tours are being designed specifically with families in mind.  Micato Safaris is owned by a warm, friendly three generation family.  They often cater to families.  Unique to Micato, they pay for and send an African child to school for every safari booked with them.

There is so much of the World that your children would enjoy seeing while also learning and growing from the experience.  While the beach is wonderful, every now and then, try something new.  You will gain lifetime memories for your family.  Contact TopFlight Travels to explore these and many more options for truly unforgettable family vacations.

FOUR SEASONS PUNTA MITA IS PERFECTION
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As I sit on the runway in Puerto Vallarta waiting to take off after a quick three night getaway to the Four Seasons Punta Mita with my husband, I can't stop thinking about how beautiful, serene and relaxing this resort is and how I want to return as soon as possible.  My stay at this Four Seasons far exceeded my expectations, which is saying a lot considering the high expectations anyone has when staying at a Four Seasons Resort.

Punta Mita, Mexico is actually a gated community located 45 minutes North of the airport.  In addition to the Four Seasons, you will find the St. Regis Punta Mita, two Jack Nicklaus designed golf courses and private homes.  These are not your average vacation homes.  Many have in excess of 15,000 square feet, and four of them have been featured in Architectural Digest.  This community is considered very safe.  I felt quite at ease leaving the resort grounds to explore the jungle-like environment on the two miles of walking trails.  The beach is free of vendors, and we took many long walks on it where the only people we encountered were a few surfers.

Four Seasons Punta Mita is beautiful and immaculate.  The resort itself sits high, elevated above an amazing stretch of the Pacific Ocean.  A beautiful view of the ocean welcomes you wherever you are on the grounds of the resort.  The beach is expansive with very soft sand and very few people.  The sunset every evening is simply breathtaking.

However, the service is what really sets this Four Seasons apart from other resorts.  Every single employee is eager to please, friendly and excellent at his or her job.  When we arrived, we were given a tour of the resort on a golf cart before arriving at our room where margaritas were waiting for us.  At the pool or beach, our chairs were set for us, and water bottles were provided and replaced immediately.  Small glasses of smoothies, margaritas and popcicles were passed around all day.  The waiter got into the pool to come to you to take your order or deliver drinks.  There was someone present at all times to take care of you.  The great thing was they never hovered over you, and I never really felt their presence until I needed something.  That takes talent!  When a fruit fly got into my smoothie, a waiter heard me tell my husband and brought over a fresh drink.  When I dropped my sunglasses, another gentleman picked them up before I could even bend down to get them.  He then pulled out a little kit and started tightening the screws and wiping every speck of dust off them.  The service is truly over the top.

We stayed in a water view room with an expansive balcony directly overlooking the water.  It sits on a hill above another building but our view of the water was not blocked by it at all.  The rooms are quite large and very comfortable.

The main infinity pool sits high above the ocean and has breathtaking views.  Giant bean bag chairs float in the water and are incredibly comfortable.  There is also an adult pool, which is actually an hidden oasis with private cabanas, hot tub and large bar with its own lunch selections.  It is very serene.  A third pool is actually a lazy river.  There was just one other couple with a baby at this pool when we were there.  It feels like you are in a jungle with all the fauna surrounding you on both sides.  This pool also has it's own bar and a large selection of slushies for the kids.

While Four Seasons Punta Mita is perfect for a romantic getaway, it would also be a great place for a family vacation.  There are beach toys on the beach, fishing, kayaks, the lazy river, a sport court and a kids club.  Older kids would have a blast learning how to surf at their highly acclaimed surfing school Tropicsurf.  They call it luxury surfing.  I'm not sure how you make surfing luxurious, but it would be fun finding out.  We did not have time to golf, but I saw a few holes during my walks on the beach, and they are, of course, beautiful.  One green is located on a rock formation out in the water.  I was able able to walk out to it as it was closed while the golf cart path was being cleared of coral gravel.

I took so many pictures, but of course, none of them can really catch the beauty of Four Seasons Punta Mita. It should really be on everyone's list of places they need to visit to personally experience it's beauty and, dare I say, perfection.  I have posted a few of my favorites from our trip to give you a flavor of this wonderful resort.

Four Seasons Punta Mita

Colorado in the Summer
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Most people think of Colorado first when planning a ski trip.  For summer vacations though, Colorado is all too often forgotten.  That needs to change.  My family just returned from our annual summer vacation in Colorado and had a blast!

The first week of June gave us absolutely perfect weather.  I never tire of that azure blue Colorado sky on a beautiful summer day.  We often visit the ski towns such as Winter Park, Breckenridge, Vail or Aspen.  They are all beautiful and unique in their summer offerings.  There is always hiking, biking, trips up the mountain in the ski lifts just to enjoy the view, alpine slides and miniature golf for the kids.  We gravitate towards Breckenridge, because the drive from Denver International Airport is the easiest and the town of Breckenridge has the most to offer in terms of shopping and restaurants.  If you ever visit over Fourth of July, the Breckenridge parade and Fourth of July party makes you feel like you are in a Norman Rockwell painting.  It is a really great time to visit Breckenridge.

This year, we traveled to Colorado Springs and stayed at The Broadmoor.  Philip Penrose and his wife Julie built The Broadmoor in the late 1800s in the elegant and opulent style of European hotels during that era.  it is very close to Pike's Peak, the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, the US Air Force Academy, ghost towns from the gold mining era and many other fun summer family activities.  It has remained open since that time as a retreat loved by presidents, politicians, celebrities, athletes and families.  I love the story that President George W. Bush had his last drop of alcohol during an evening at The Broadmoor.  It must have been some night.

The Broadmoor is a Five-Diamond hotel set in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains that is truly spectacular.  If you love golf, The Broadmoor has 3 courses that are ranked as some of the best in the world.   Their tennis program is always highly ranked by TENNIS magazine.  If you just love to lounge by the pool and drink fruity drinks, like me, The Broadmoor has one of the best pools I have visited.  The service is wonderful, the food is wonderful and everyone loves the huge infinity pool overlooking a lake and Cheyenne Mountain.  They have a first-rate playground near the pool for the kids and two pool slides that my kids love.  The slides are off to the side, partially hidden by the landscaping so other guests do not feel like they are at a waterpark.  The Broadmoor is also home to the Penrose Room, the only Five-Star and Five-Diamond restaurant in all of Colorado.

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Last year, Philip Anschutz bought The Broadmoor and is renovating the entire facility.  He spends much of his time at the hotel, and the updates show his love of The Broadmoor.  Mr. Anschutz has added a bowling alley called Play that is like no other bowling alley you have ever seen.  It has enormous television screens that cover entire walls with sporting events.  There are multiple video gaming systems for the kids.  It has a full-service restaurant with outstanding food.  Of course, you will find six lanes for bowling.  The shoes are all brand new and brought to you on a tray.  The balls are clean.  The service is outstanding, and you sit on beautiful leather couches while waiting your turn.   

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The Broadmoor has cottages that can be rented by large families.  There is even a mountain retreat with its own staff for those who want a more rustic holiday.  The Broadmoor offers so much more for its guests that I could write a book.  My family loves The Broadmoor.  We could return every summer.

 

Disney Cruises!

Disney cruises are great for the whole family!  Disney does a great job of having fun activities for all kids, from teens to toddlers.  They will never complain of being bored on a Disney Cruise.  Disney also provides childcare for babies - included in the cost of the cruise!  That means Mom, Dad, the grandparents and any other adults can actually grab moments to relax and have a fabulous vacation.  For example, you can enjoy a delightful dinner with your children at the time kids like to eat.  After they finish their meal, counselors arrive to escort the children to the youth clubs where there is a plethora of fun, age appropriate activities for the toddlers through the teens.  The adults are then able to enjoy a leisurely meal with adult conversation.  There are also top-rated spas, nightclubs and live shows to entertain the adults in the evening.  

In 2014, Disney is expanding its Mediterranean cruises to include Venice.  These cruises are a perfect example of how to make sure that every member of the family has the vacation of their dreams.  The adults and older children can experience the most fabulous ports in Europe, while the younger children have the time of their lives on the ship when they tire of the tours on land.

Check out the video below to see how awesome a Disney Cruise can be for families!