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Family Matters

Hotels/Resorts Can Seize The Summer With Full Slate Of Kids Activities

Tuesday, June 14, 2016
Steve Pike
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Summer time is made for kids. Having been cooped up in classrooms for the better part of nine months, kids are anxious to let off some steam on summer family vacations. Summer, however, also is a time for mom and dad, making its essential for resorts and hotels to help families balance their schedules, while enjoying the amenities at a property.

That balance–and a well-rounded menu of camps and activities for kids generally up to 18 years of age--can be the difference between a family booking a vacation at a specific resort or looking elsewhere.

“The most important aspect of a vacation is having the opportunity to enjoy it with safety, peace and security. Having a resort that thinks in all those aspects is worth millions,” said Keishla Y. Zenón Febo, Camp Coquí Supervisor at El Conquistador Resort & Las Casitas Village, A Waldorf Astoria Resort in Puerto Rico. “We believe that guests always look to their children to have a unique experience and take an unforgettable memory back home.”

Those memories can be plentiful and varied–everything from painting to playacting. Kids’ camps and activities are great ways to keep children occupied, keep parents happy and create additional revenue. “Summer is the only time of year that local and resort guests are able to drop off their children and leave the property,” said Catherine Warren, director of Eau Spa (includes AquaNuts kids programs) at Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa in Manalapan, FL.

She added, “We try to plan activities even on the weekends that the children are able to enjoy that are staying at the resort such as lawn carnivals, art projects and beach and pool games. Children love the water sports that we offer at our property that include the pools and ocean, and those who prefer to be indoors can enjoy crafts, theater, DJ-ing and art classes.” The resort also has six Apple computers for kids to use, but the real fun is offline.

The Quest Club Summer Camp at Boca Raton Resort & Club in Florida, A Waldorf Astoria Resort, this summer features educational weekly themes kids’ camps with titles such as Galactic Gurus; Get Your Game Face On; Wacky Weather Wonderland; Animal Adventures; The Great Outdoors; and Wet ‘N’ Wild. In addition, each week includes a field trip and guest entertainment corresponding with that week’s theme.

“Parents on vacation always seek a few precious hours of adult-time,” said Emily Holtby, youth program manager at Boca Raton Resort & Club, Waldorf Astoria Resorts. “A clean and vibrant kids’ camp facility with professional staff gives parents the sense of security to leave their children supervised for a short time. Often times, the kids program can incorporate local culture or destination heritage, creating an experience that’s entertaining and educational.

“Our counselors are less like babysitters and more like facilitators—constantly engaging with the children. Counselors help to make the time go by quickly for the kids, keeping them active with a variety of indoor and outdoor activities.”

Even if families don't utilize the service, Holtby said, “It’s a great option to have and an integral part of the value proposition of a family vacation.”

At the Ponte Vedra Inn & Club in Florida, in addition to traditional summer camps, each day will have a special activity showcasing that week’s theme. For example, the Animal Lovers week includes a birdhouse making activity on Monday; sea turtle tutorial with a sea turtle rescue on Tuesday; Jacksonville Zoo field trip on Wednesday; make your own aquarium activity on Thursday; and ocean animals on Friday.

At the Fairmont Kea Lani, Maui, children learn how to dance hula and string orchid lei, as well as learn the basics of playing a ukulele. At the resort’s Keiki Lani Kids Club, children ages five to 13 also can participate in activities such as building erupting volcanoes; crafting sandcastles; feeding koi fish; painting coconuts; exploring tide pools; and learning Hawaiian words and phrases.

At South Seas Island Resort on Captiva Island, FL, activities cover all ages, from toddlers to adults. The resort has family programs and options for drop-off programs for ages three to 11. The Recreation Department hosts activities at Skully's Family Interactive Center and in other areas of the resort.

Skully's Family Interactive Center gets rated on four categories through surveys that the guests receive after their visit at South Seas. These include availability of activities, friendliness of staff, cleanliness of the facility and safety of environment. “These four categories give us the foundation of the operation as a whole and strive to have all ratings as ‘better than expected,’” said Rachele Noce, Director of Recreation & Special Events at South Seas Island Resort. “We are the memory makers of the resort and take great pride in it and our Recreation Department operation.”

Skully's Imagineer Club has a different theme every day, such as Pirates & Princesses, Mad Scientists, and Junior Explorers. Each session is filled with themed crafts, games, and outdoor activities. The average time a child spends at a camp depends on the guest's agenda.

“We have a specific schedule that we follow which is on our Activities Calendar/Resort Map that is handed out at the Front Desk at check in,” said Noce. “Children may be signed up for our morning session from 10AM - 1:30PM then break, which will then lead into our afternoon craft and family programs during the afternoon. On selected days, there is Kids' Night Out from 5:30 p.m. - 9:00 p.m. followed by a Teen program. So potentially, one could be busy from the morning to the evening.”

The use of effective strategies when dealing with the differences of ages and learning styles or needs of the children, said Zenón Febo, is crucial for a healthy and productive business. It’s important to have the right resources, including careful selection of the staff as well as educational, fun and interactive games that will nurture, teach and entertain the children. Careful selection of staff includes the proper safety training.

El Conquistador, said Zenón Febo, provides CPR training and first aid for emergencies with children “We take good care of each families’ needs so that we build loyalty and trust with our customers,” she said.

Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa also requires its staff to be CPR certified and to know First Aid. “Safety is of the utmost importance,” said Warren. “This is followed by vigorous training in five-star customer service in general, as well as attending to children in particular. We want all of the staff to be aware of children’s allergies, swimming abilities and any special accommodations that each individual child may require.”
Steve Pike
Hotel Interactive® Editorial Division

Bio: Steve Pike is an award-winning golf writer and author who helped define golf business reporting in the early 1990s as the first Golf Business Editor for Golfweek magazine and later at Golf World and Golf Shop Operations magazines for Golf Digest. Pike further pioneered this genre at the PGA of America and Time Warner as the golf business writer and editor for PGA.com. He started in newspapers more than ...
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