Luxury resorts used to be childfree but more parents are asking for a little glamour with their getaways.
Best for… all ages.
What’s the feel? Intimate, tropical retreat.
Best rooms for families: Interconnecting rooms or private houses. Children under three stay in their parents’ room for free (maximum two kids per villa).
Just for parents: Be dropped on Vomo Lailai island with a hamper and a two-way radio for pick-up. Babysitting costs $FJD15 (about $9) per hour for two children.
Although Fiji has a reputation for being family-friendly, Vomo Island is one of only a handful of luxury resorts that accepts children all year round. (Others open their doors to under-18s during the school holiday peak.) More importantly, the 87-hectare property in the Mamanucas is unspoilt, with turquoise-tinted water, coral-strewn beaches and hedges dotted with red hibiscus.
The 28 renovated villas work well for families, as they feature segregated sleeping spaces for babies and small children and interconnecting rooms for bigger families. Two houses – more like expansive compounds; one with a 24-hour butler – are perfect for intergenerational family groups.
Younger children might wake and go to the Kids Village, which has a cubbyhouse, dress-ups and outdoor play equipment (under-fours need to be accompanied by a parent or “baby butler”). Older kids will enjoy hand-feeding baby turtles that are part of the island’s breeding program, while teens could try the nine-hole ‘‘chip and putt’’ golf course.
Vomo says it encourages family togetherness, although there are some adult-only zones, such as the remarkable Rocks Bar at the western end of the island.
Best for… babies and children over five. Unfenced pools in the villas make it tricky with toddlers but barriers can be arranged.
What’s the feel? Remote beachside paradise.
Best rooms for families: The two-bedroom Ocean Front Pool Villas.
Just for parents: Book a barbecue on your pool deck with a personal chef after the kids are in bed. Or babysitting is $THB350 (about $14) per child for the first hour.
Far from the bustle of Patong, Trisara – which means “third garden in heaven” in Sanskrit – is on Phuket’s less-developed north-west coast. Set on a hillside blanketed with bamboo and banana trees, the 59-villa, 40-hectare resort spills down to a private beach on the edge of the Andaman Sea.
The spacious villas are adorned with teak furniture, have their own infinity pools and feel secluded. Or book one of several private houses with a swimming pool, chef and housekeeper (some even have cinemas and billiard rooms).
The small but well-formed kids’ club organises kite flying, jungle exploration and swimming lessons, as well as uniquely Thai activities such as traditional fan painting and Muay Thai boxing. And if monsoonal rains sweep in, there’s a well-stocked library with kids’ DVDs.
Food is a focus (Neil Perry has been a guest chef) so it’s no surprise the menu is topnotch. Children can order dumplings and pumpkin gratin accompanied by a coconut juice, and the high staff-to-guest ratio means there is plenty of help for parents during messy mealtimes.
Best for… tweens and teens. There is no kids’ club.
What’s the feel? Chic farmhouse by the sea.
Best rooms for families: One of two Deluxe Family Suites.
Just for parents: During “cocktail hour” in summer, the sommelier uncorks premium drops in the wine room. Babysitting is $NZ25 (about $24) per hour (minimum three hours).
When you say “family friendly”, a stately lodge set on a cliff may not spring to mind. And yet, four hours’ drive from Auckland in the subtropical north, Kauri Cliffs is ideal for parents with active older children.
It’s set on 2428 hectares of farmland, with a world-class golf course, and the focus is on outdoor activities. Three beaches are located near the lodge – including the exquisite Pink Beach, made up of tiny pink shells – and tracks crisscross native totara and kauri forest.
Budding botanists will find native flora on one of the lodge’s organised tours, while the more adventurous might take an excursion to the mostly uninhabited Cavalli Islands just off the coast. There’s also horseriding, fishing, tennis and scuba diving, as well as two pools (indoor and outdoor).
The plantation-style lodge, with its dark oak and European antiques, might seem formal but, as is so often the case with Kiwi lodges, it’s actually quite relaxed. In summer, barbecue dinners are served at rustic wooden tables by the beach and the chefs will happily attempt to oblige fussy eaters.
Best for… kids aged up to 10.
What’s the feel? Slick seaside sanctuary.
Best rooms for families: Two- and three-bedroom villas with private pools. There are no interconnecting rooms.
Just for parents: Try the heavenly Sanur Signature massage that combines Indonesian, Thai, Breema, Shiatsu and Swedish techniques. Babysitting costs IDR 125,000 an hour (about $12).
One of the traps new parents fall into is booking a hotel room that is literally that – one room. Not so at the Fairmont in Bali (formerly the Regent), where every villa is a minimum of 94 square metres and has its own generous, lattice-screened balcony. That means it’s possible to spend balmy evenings with a drink in hand, overlooking lush gardens and a serene water feature while your small people sleep in an adjoining bedroom.
This two-year-old resort is the most stylish place to stay in Sanur on the quieter, south-east side of the Indonesian island. Set on four hectares, with a total of 120 suites and villas, it opens onto a beautiful beach.
The suites have plenty of dark timber and Balinese touches, as well as large marble bathrooms with deep baths. With a boat- shaped cubbyhouse and bridge, the kids’ club has something of a nautical theme. There’s also a “mini cinema”, Lego and a roster of fun activities.
Children are welcome in the 50-metre infinity pool but there are also two shallow pools for tots. And, of course, Bali’s vibrant street culture and temples are just beyond the hotel gates.
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