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Child’s Play

Resorts Can Spike Summer Sales By Offering Innovative Programs For Kids

Tuesday, May 16, 2017
Steve Pike
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It’s true that summer is for kids. It’s equally as true that summer is the best time for many resorts and hotels to show off some of their more innovative programs aimed at those kids. Successful kids’ programs, activities and camps each are great marketing tools to help drive current and future business.

Programs for kids these days are more than just playing a few games in a colorful room or maybe some time at the pool. Today’s kids’ programs and camps must be as interactive as the video games they like to play.

“We have many families that come just because of our kids’ programs,” said Amy Robison, director of guest experience at South Seas Island Resort on Captiva Island, FL. “I believe this is more and more a trend for families. Parents search resorts and hotels based on how family friendly the destination is—they do not want to have bored kids while on vacation.”

To that end, one of the programs at South Seas Island Resort—Skully's Imagineer Kids Club—offers half-day or full-day programs, boasting a different theme each day. Kids from ages three to 11 have access to activities ranging from "Mad Science Experiments" and "Under Sea Exploration" to "Wacky Sports.”

“Through educationally fun, hands-on learning, we make all our activities fun, exciting and unique,” Robison said. “Some activities include hermit crab racing, coconut painting, fishing programs and golf cart scavenger hunts. We aim to keep all kids engaged and involved in the activities by showcasing things that they do not typically do back home.”

One of South Seas Resort’s more popular activities is its “ScoutAbout” program, which is offered at only a handful of resorts around the world. The program includes 15 different points of interest around the resort.

“Kids and families hunt for these locations to learn about the island, including birds, sea life, plants, and history,” Robison said. “They collect different colored bands at each location; once collected, they get to recycle those bands for a keepsake South Seas Island Resort band and place their name on the Wall of Fame.”

All that plays into Catherine Warren’s belief that children and parents want camps to be fun, educational and include physical activity. Warren is spa and leisure director at Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa in Manalapan, FL.

“We have so many options for them to choose from here, including DJ lessons, a dress-up booth, pool tables, video games and lawn parties with ocean view bounce castles,” Warren said. “We are offering ‘The School of Rock’ this year, and we are very excited about that. Children will be able to learn fun songs that they enjoy and know, and then perform them for their parents.”

TradeWinds Island Grand Resort in St. Petersburg Beach, FL, has the KONK (Kids Only, No Kidding) Club for kids from ages four to 11. KONK Club is a supervised program in the mornings and evenings that offers a range of activities, including eco-camp, a hunt for RedBeard’s treasure, an art studio and creative crafts. Day and evening theme parties include “Mad Science Camp” and “Marine Bio Camp.”

In addition, the TradeWinds Island Resorts have been named an autism-friendly business by the Center for Autism & Related Disabilities (C.A.R.D.) Special sensory activities are offered in KONK that include hands in the sand, finger puppets, an array of percussion instruments, bean bags and board games.

Hilton Sandestin (FL) Beach’s Kids Krew is a supervised program that takes place in the mornings and evenings and offers a range of activities for kids, including safari hunts, a camping adventure, karaoke and creative crafts. Late night Kids Krew takes place from 6 p.m. to 12 a.m. and hosts themed parties such as “Pirate Pandemonium” and “Pajama Party.”

The Ritz Kids program at The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island, FL, includes half- and full-day programs that introduce kids to the natural wonders of the historic island through a variety of hands-on adventures. Designed for children from ages five to 12, the supervised program entertains kids with educational games and activities featuring different themes throughout the week.

The Acquamarine Children’s Program at Acqualina Resort & Spa in Sunny Isles Beach, FL, “is a key cornerstone of the (resort’s) success” and has evolved throughout the years, according to resort General Manager Christof Pignet.

“AcquaMarine is designed and inspired with our ocean and all the sea life within,” Pignet said. “Children who sign-up for the Acquamarine program become campers and have fun with learning and discovering a new appreciation, love and respect for the sea through educational hands on activities.”

Campers utilize computers and iPads to customize their learning experience within each theme, from sizing up whales on the beach to creating an edible coral polyp.

“In addition to the marine biology based program (that includes seven themes: Arctic Fish and Friends; the Colorful World of Reefs; Gentle Giants; Pinniped Pals; Predators of the Sea; Save the Sea; and Sea Turtles) campers also participate in activities such as sports, art adventures, team building and pool play,” Pignet said.

“We are well-aware that often it is not the parents, but their children who are the key decision makers when it comes to planning their next vacation. And while the kids are predominantly looking for activities and fun, parents always bear in mind the educational factor of any programs or activities, as well as the safety and security of their children.”

El Conquistador Resort in Fajardo, Puerto Rico, has Camp Coqui, named after the island’s beloved Coqui frog. It’s a daily themed camp for kids ages four to 12 with themes such "Coqui Kids in the Kitchen," "Nature Day," "Sports Day" and "Fun in the Sun."

“The kids’ program also works very well with corporate events as well as we can offer customized evening camp experiences for the children while the parents can participate in their evening speaking engagements and receptions,” said Elizabeth Rivera, guest activities manager at the El Conquistador. “The key here is to let the child choose the new activity. Once they choose and begin an activity or physically involved challenges, let them know they will have some ‘free time’ to spend in video games afterwards.”
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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